Understand why you handle money the way that you do

The Positive Affects of a Money Gram

by Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil

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When you begin to take a look at how your family deals or dealt with money, you can often help a relationship that is caught in a money-based power struggle. Instances of unhealthy habits related to finances while you were growing up can create similar habits as an adult. Think about some of these scenarios from your childhood:

Were you aware of a lack of money? Were you told that your family couldn't afford things? Were you given items or money as a reward? I call these types of questions and the ensuing answers your "money gram."

The questions around this money gram will give you a window into why you react the way you do to money-related issues, and it will help you understand your partner better as well. Sitting down and answering these questions together can be crucial in moving to the next stage of a relationship or getting through a difficult struggle. The money legacy most people leave is subconscious, a reaction to characteristics and traits they probably got from their families but aren't necessarily aware of. By asking yourself some seemingly simple questions, you'll be able to turn your legacy from unconscious to conscious, and hand down a different set of values and decisions.

Some of these questions go far back into your family history, and may require help from your parents or other relatives. Begin by asking and answering these questions about yourself and any siblings you have:

  • Do you/they have successful careers?
  • Are you/they married?
  • Has anyone been divorced? Remarried?
  • Are you aware of any financial infidelities?
  • Has anyone claimed bankruptcy?
  • Are they savers? Spenders?
  • Are they risk takers or are they cautious?
  • Do any financial arrangements exist such as prenups or trust funds?
  • How was money handled in the family? Do feelings of fear, shame, blame, guilt or abandonment arise when talking/thinking about money?
  • Did your family lose money during the Great Depression? While immigrating to America?

Like I said, you may not know the answers off-hand, and this will definitely require a time commitment, and a commitment to honesty from you and your family! Of course, don't press too hard as you don't want to alienate people, but it's likely that your family members will be willing to help you uncover a more prosperous future, and they may even learn something about themselves in the process! Do try to make it clear that you're only doing this for your success and well-being, and the well-being of future family members.

The answers to this "money gram" will help you discover money behaviors and relationship dynamics within your family. This analysis will allow you to predict, prevent, overcome and solve money behaviors you face now and in the future.

Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil has been an internationally acclaimed relationship therapist for thirty years. New York magazine named her one of the city's top therapists. Her most recent book, Financial Infidelity (now available in paper back) is available on Amazon, as is Make up, Don't Breakup, where she gives couples important tools for making their relationship work through various circumstances. You can also find and her books on Facebook.

Take the Next Step:

  • Keep your finances on track by visiting our money section where you'll find tools and resources to help you with your finances.
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  • Begin asking and answering the above questions about yourself and your siblings. This will allow you to predict, prevent, overcome and solve money behaviors you face now and in the future.

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