Money Patterns … Life Patterns?

August 17, 2010

Growing up, I saw my stay-at-home mom handle all the day-to-day transactions involving money. My dad’s paycheck was deposited, some into savings, some into checking to pay the bills, and the rest placed in a paper envelope in the “important papers” drawer of their nightstand. From this paper envelope Mom would take money to grocery shop or to give to my sister and me if we were heading to the movies or needed cash for something at school.

She balanced the checkbook, a task she quickly turned over to me once my math aptitude became evident, and managed our daily finances. But Dad was the one who called all the shots when it came to investments. No input was sought or desired. As a service manager for a Mercedes dealership, he got his “investment tips” from his wealthy clients. After all, the lawyers, doctors, and surgeons who could afford those cars must know something about money, right? Where to vacation? My dad’s decision. Should we buy new furniture? Whatever for? New appliances? Why? He wasn’t the one preparing the meals. And really, three out of four working burners is enough for any cook!

Fast forward 20, 30 years, and I was handling the day-to-day transactions in my household. I paid the bills (albeit online), balanced the checkbook (couldn’t wait to pass it on to my daughter), and my husband handled the investments and authorized major purchases. Same pattern, but with one enormous difference: I had a degree in economics! Why was I deferring to my husband’s investment and spending decisions? Why did he get to decide if we remodeled the kitchen? Or cruised the Caribbean instead of the Danube? When had I become my mom?

I was recently sent a The Woman’s Book of Money and Spiritual Vision, by Rosemary Williams, director of Women’s Perspective, an organization that designs retreats and workshops on the subject of money and spirituality. Rosemary uses her background as a financial consultant to help readers learn and analyze their emotional history concerning money, examining patterned responses, unconscious motivations, and habitual behaviors. Once you understand why you do what you do, this “workshop–in-a-book” helps you assess where you are and move to where you want to be.

Why is “spiritual vision” involved in a book about finances? Because everything we do ultimately has an impact. Rosemary asks us to “follow the money” at one point. Start thinking about where your investment or expense will end up. Who benefits? What is the ultimate message of that money … or any money? And by spiritual, Rosemary doesn’t mean any particular religion, deity, or God, but rather a higher level or calling, a desire to better the world and the lives of those around us.

I found the Money Messages chapter extremely interesting, so I pose this question to you. Which of the following are money messages you’ve heard throughout your life?

Do you think we’re made of money?

Be grateful for what you have.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

Beware the almighty dollar.

Only buy things on sale.

Don’t tell people how much money you make!

We have to keep up with the Joneses.

Don’t be wasteful.

People with less money aren’t as good as us.

Do you know how much it costs to heat this house?

Save for a rainy day.

We can’t afford it.

We’re lucky.

Good health is true wealth.

What else can you add? What money messages still play an important role in your life?

This post is by Cordy Galligan, Director of Corporate Relations at AAUW.

By:   |   August 17, 2010


  1. “We’re blessed because we’re rich in family.” I agree wholeheartedly with this family mantra. That being said, I also think it has largely held my entire extended family back from acquiring wealth and financial security because money is a source of guilt and symbolizes time spent away (working) from the family unit. Being rich in family is a blessing, but so is having financial wealth, because the more money you make, the more choices you have for yourself, your family, and to make a difference in this world. Money is a magnifier of your personality. So if you’re a person who wants to serve and affect positive change in this world, earning money will help you with those goals.

  2. Sharon says:

    “If you don’t have it, don’t spend it!”

  3. clarkp says:

    Money doesn’t grow on trees.

    My son is convinced, though, that money is given away for free from ATMs.

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