This will give you the background of how I became involved in researching the psychology of money and creating Money Habitudes cards.
About ten years ago, women began telling me stories about being deep in debt. They would come up when I did presentations on life transitions and preparing for the future and sometimes just at a party. It was a strange phenomenon and I’m not sure what I was doing to create it. I am quite conservative and responsible about money. I was intrigued (and disturbed) by their situations and wanted to learn more, so I invited six women to my house to help me understand how they had gotten into debt and why. It was quite an education. These women were smart, well meaning and knew they were getting into debt–and they had options! They were not destitute, but for some reason they were unable to choose other options. What’s more, those who were married were keeping their debt a secret and were petrified that their spouses would find out. Those who were not married were ashamed of their debt.
After listening to them, I was wondering why this happened and began reading the academic research and popular press in finance, psychology and behavioral economics. This resulted in identifying the six most common patterns of behavior related to managing money and the origin of messages in the brain that subconsciously influence our attitudes (automatic thoughts) and habits (automatic reactions) related to money. That research became the basis of Money Habitudes, a simple toolkit designed as a deck of cards to help people discover and understand the strong subconscious messages that influence their money behaviors. The cards are used with equal success by people with no money and very little education to those that are well-educated and wealthy. It’s also interesting that many woman who are incredibly responsible, assertive and articulate at work seem to lose that confidence when it comes to addressing their own financial behavior. Conversely, some of the most confident and financially savvy people I’ve met are women who have little or no education and earn a minimal salary. Again, it reinforces that our relationship with money is not dependent on our means but our mind.