I do this experiment whenever I’m at an expo, it’s called “Penny For Your Thoughts” and I provide pennies for passersby to put into whichever cup most represents what they feel money “means.” This helps me to engage them in conversation, because everyone knows you must avoid eye contact with a financial planner.
Typically the two cups that gather the most pennies are “security” and “freedom” (which are, really, two sides of the same coin, pun intended) and interestingly, women typically choose the “security” cup whereas entrepreneurs of both sexes choose the “freedom” cup. But occasionally I do get several in the “greed” and “complexity” cups, especially if I’m at a holistic health event.
It’s endlessly interesting to me what money means to people. As a financial planner, not only do I have to guide my clients towards a “good” financial decision, I need to know if and when they’d recognize a “good” financial decision if they saw it…and that’s a matter of each person’s unique values and what financial planner Rick Kahler and psychologists Ted and Brad Klontz term “money scripts:” what we believe and continually tell ourselves about money.
Money doesn’t have a meaning per se; we assign meaning to both the money we have and the money we would like to have. We create stories around money, and stories are very, very powerful. I’m reading through Dr. David Krueger’s “New Money Story” Mentor Training Manual right now. His book, “The Secret Language of Money” reaffirmed many of my philosophies about money and challenged others. It was, in a word, remarkable.
What does money mean to you?
What is money’s story in your life?
Are these definitions and stories helping or hurting you?