Helping Clients Explore Their Money History

Attitudes and beliefs about money have their roots in value-laden messages picked up along life’s journey.  These money messages are not only clothed in the words of others, but in their behaviors as well.  Family and cultural messages have a profound influence on our money beliefs.  Intellectually we can disagree, but subconsciously the messages can affect how we feel about money.  Therefore, true financial freedom is more than having a lot of money; it is being free of money myths and notions that influence our money attitudes and behaviors.  A money history review can give your clients tremendous insight into the money messages that consciously and subconsciously influence how they feel about money and deal with their financial issues on a day to day basis.

Recognition is a fundamental component of your client’s exploration of their money history and requires introspection and honesty regarding the elements that have shaped their current relationship with money.  Recognition is the first step toward positive change and serves as a powerful catalyst for personal growth in your clients “money maturity.”  These revelations are not intended to give clients the opportunity to place blame, but rather to help them recognize potential obstacles to their financial well-being.

Help your clients look for clues in their past that will help them to understand their current financial life.  Ask your clients to reflect on the following questions:

  • Starting with your childhood, what experiences have shaped your underlying beliefs and attitudes about money?
  • What do your patterns of earning, saving, investing, and giving say about you?
  • What were you taught about money when you were growing up?
  • In your family, was money an issue, a source of conflict, a reward, or a tool for achieving goals?
  • When did you first start earning money?  How did that make you feel?
  • In your past, has money been a source of conflict in your important relationships?
  • As an adult, what was the most important lesson you learned about money?
  • What money habits have been obstacles to reaching your life goals?
  • What money habits brought you closer to your life goals?

In addition to the questions above, Money Quotient’s Money Memories tool provides a structured framework for exploring money history.  The open-ended questions on the Money Memories tool are designed to stimulate in-depth thought and reflection.

After clients have explored the areas above and/or completed the Money Memories tool, facilitate a discussion by asking:  “What did you learn about yourself?”  “Did you gain insights as to the source of your money attitudes and behaviors?”  “Will this exercise change how you think about your financial life in the future?”  If you are meeting with a couple, ask them to share their insights regarding the differences and similarities in their money histories.  How have those differences and similarities affected their relationship and how they communicate about money?

Guiding your clients through an exploration of their money history will provide valuable insight to how they think and feel about their finances and spending habits, increase self-awareness, and assist you in providing customized financial advice and guidance.

Editor’s Note: The Money Memories tool is available to Level 4 Licensees.  For information about becoming an M.Q. Licensee, please email

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