Why do some people seem to easily build wealth while others seem destined for a life of struggle with money?
Before I start talking about the tools – the technical stuff a financial adviser assists with – I want to talk about the toolbox, which is your inner game of money.
If your subconscious ‘money blueprint’ is not set for success, nothing you know, learn and invest in will make much of a difference.
Sam is an oncologist in his 50’s, who has been making over $500,000 a year for the last ten years. However, he has a very low net worth, still has high debts for his residential property, and any investment he bought dropped like a rock after he purchased it.
He also has bad spending habits and expensive hobbies. Hence, he is struggling to save and invest for his retirement. He would like to slow down at work but it seems impossible based on the financial resources he has now.
In the work I do, I clearly see that the amount of money people make is not the key element in their financial wellbeing.
You must dig deeper for the root of your money problems. If your life is like a tree, the fruits on the tree are your results. If you want to change the fruits, you need to change your roots.
Your money blueprint is your pre-set program – or the way you think about the money. It typically operates outside of your conscious awareness, yet it drives your financial behaviours. The subconscious mind comprises of ideas and beliefs that were formed primarily in your early childhood.
We are programmed in three primary ways around money – the things you heard, the things you saw and the events you experienced when you were young.
First influence – the things you heard when you were young
What did Dr. Sam’s parents tell him when he was a child?
Sam’s mum used to say that ‘rich people are greedy’, and his dad’s favorite saying was, ‘Do you think money grows on trees?’ His dad believed that people with a low level of education could not make much money, so he encouraged his son to pursue higher education. Sam followed his dad’s advice and finished university—but he still struggles with money.
If your subconscious mind believes that ‘money is hard to get’ or there is some virtue in poverty, then you will encounter problems when acquiring wealth. Your financial success will be limited because you have a poor mindset.
Second influence – the things you saw when you were young
In general, as adults we tend to be very similar to one or both of our parents when it comes to money.
However, some of us can be exactly the opposite of them.
Sam’s dad was a law firm partner and Sam became a doctor after he graduated from medical school. Despite their high level of education, financial literacy was not a part of his parents’ curricula. They spent most of their earnings on lifestyle and kept acquiring liabilities they thought were assets. They used to reward Sam materially for academic achievement or good behaviour.
As you can imagine, Sam became a spender when he grew up. He has spent money impulsively on things from quality camera gear to expensive cars, especially when he has felt his life to be lacking in some areas. When he divorced in his late 40s, he had nothing but depreciating assets.
Sara is Sam’s ex-wife and she is the opposite to her parents when it comes to money. Sara’s mum is very frugal and old-fashioned. Sara has two older sisters and she mainly wore their hand-me-downs when she was a child. One day, she went to school in her sister’s clothes which were too big for her and heard the girls’ laughter behind her back: ‘What is she wearing? Her grandma’s clothes? Haha.’
To compensate for her childhood resentment, once she had began to make her own money, Sara spent most of her income on shopping sprees for better clothes, better cars, and a better lifestyle than all the old school friends.
Third influence – The events you experienced when you were young
Kim’s parents had a very lavish lifestyle when they had a successful business. During the global financial crisis in 2008-2009, her parents’ business partner withdrew a large sum of money from the company and disappeared. Her parents declared bankruptcy and Kim dropped out of high school at that time. She has been running her own successful marketing company in the last few years and makes a decent income.
But Kim has an excessive wariness and anxiety around money and saves most of her income for “rainy days”. She said: ‘I still remember how my life changed in a day. We moved out from our big house and lived on my dad’s minimal income. I lost all my friends as I didn’t belong in their world anymore.’
If your motivation for acquiring money or assets comes from negative emotions such as fear, jealousy, or anger, your money will never bring you happiness.
What do you feel your money blueprint is set on, after examining each of your influences?
Most of us are not always consciously aware of our behaviours and feelings about money. Like many other parts of our lives, we think that it is just the way we are. Advisers who help their clients understand their money attitude, habits and dispositions—and who rescript self-limiting money blueprint—can help you grow and protect your wealth more effectively.
Eker, T.Harv 2005, Secrets of Millionaire Ming, HarperCollins Publishers, New York