Money and me
Money and me, money and you
This month’s we start to explore our relationship with money.
We will return to this many times and this is just a brief introduction
centred on the concept of ‘money maturity’ as developed by George Kinder,
the US financial planner often referred to as the ‘Father of Life Planning’
Start by watching my introductory video below (click on the bar under the video to read the full text).
Then spend some time on self reflection and further reading.
Money and me, money and you
Welcome, Living Money members. Its Jeremy here to introduce this month’s topic which is about money and me and money and you. In other words, our relationship with money.
Its also December and Christmas time, so let me take the opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a happy and wealthy (see Sep17!) new year.
So, what do you make of Christmas? Is it a time for family, renewal, rejoicing? Or is it a time of strain, anxiety even loneliness?
And what about money? Personally, I never cease to be amazed at the irony of celebrating the birth of a baby to a family in such poverty that they had to make do with a stable and a manger by going on the biggest spending spree of the year, a spending spree that starts months before Christmas and is fuelled by tremendous consumer and commercial pressures.
How do you deal with this pressure? Do you rejoice in it, and give yourself permission to see Christmas as a time to get away from the long autumn grind that started after the August Bank Holiday and the dreary winter weather.
Or do you do your best to ignore the pressures and risk being called a Scrooge?
How do you deal with the endless calls on your charity, often from organisations you know little about and from causes that are not part of your agenda?
And how do you deal with January’s bank and credit card statements? Are you feeling guilty because you realise that maybe you could (or should) have spent a bit more on your family and friends, or do you get on a terrible post Christmas downer as you realise how much you have overspent?
Or maybe, just maybe, you got it just right. You are at peace with yourself, feeling that the money you spent was driven solely by the love you felt for your family and friends and by a sound understanding of your financial position.
The answer lies in our relationship with money and Christmas, because of the pressures, is a time when that relationship is tested, often to the limit.
I mentioned Lynn Twist’s book The Soul of Money in September’s post. In the first paragraph of her introduction Twist describes the book – which is about our relationship with money – as a route to finding a new freedom, truth and joy in our relationship with money. She goes on to call it the pathway to personal and financial freedom.
As I said before, I found that so powerful that I adapted the phrase as my tag line, in spite of the debasement of the word ‘freedom’ by the financial services industry.
And this begs the question, what do we mean by our relationship with money?
Cut to 13 July 2004 and my first meeting with George Kinder. With a handful of other far sighted financial planners we attended his first workshop held in the UK. It was at this workshop that I first started to appreciate there is a far greater depth to money than the shallow numbers game that, personally and professionally, I had previously ascribed to money.
Imagine that money is a member of your household, a fellow human being with whom you have contact every day. As with other human relationships, our relationship with money is founded in our emotions, in our love or dislike of money, in how much or how little we see of money, whether we want more of it, or are content with what we have.
And as with our relationship with our fellow human beings, the more mature our relationship with them, the better the relationship.
Which brings me back to George Kinder. The title of his workshop was the Seven Stages of Money Maturity, based on his book of the same name which is subtitled ‘Understanding the spirit and value of money in your life’. Kinder believes that, rather like children growing into adults then moving into old age, there is a scale of money maturity with a childhood innocence at one end and an adult wisdom at the other end.
Our money maturity increases as we learn to deal with the pain around money. Indeed in between the two extremes is ‘Understanding’, where we begin to see that pushing away the pain we often feel around money does little good. However, walking into the fire and being at ease with the pain provides the route to dealing with it.
Now we are going to spend much of our time in this community dealing with our relationship with money, and this is just a brief introduction. There are not that many authorities in this field. However, we will explore writers such as Kinder, Twist and Needleman who all provide deep insights into our relationship with money.
However, I believe that the best route to wisdom is through our your stories and my stories. We have much to learn from each other and the sharing of our experiences to develop wisdom is one of the prime purposes of this community.
I’ve provided just one short and easy exercise for you to do this month, which is all about assessing your current levels of money maturity. It will only take you a couple of minutes to complete it and should provide you with some useful insights, which you can explore through the usual self-reflection
There is one short video to watch, a five minute TED talk by Tania Luna called ‘How a penny made me feel like a millionaire’. It doesn’t need any explanation from me. Just watch it.
I’ve also given some more details of Kinder’s book below, and a link to a review of the most important money books around at the moment.
Next month I am going to reflect on the concept of the journey, the journey we have taken so far, and the journey we will take as part of the Living Money community.
Thats it for this month.
Take care and go well.
How a penny made me feel like a millionaire?
Get a little bit of perspective on your relationship with money in this short, moving TED talk from Tania Luna
Assess Your Money Maturity
Self-reflection and a new take on the role of money in your life
(Download paper version here)
Although the outcome of this assessment is a score, its real purpose is to set you thinking about your relationship with money and the wider aspects of money that you may not necessarily be aware of in your day-to-day life.
It will also introduce you to the concept of Money Maturity as developed by George Kinder, the US financial planner who took conventional financial planning into the realms of life planning
Score yourself on the truth of each statement. ‘Very true’: 5; ‘Somewhat true’: 4; ‘Undecided’: 3; ‘Somewhat false’: 2; ‘Very false’: 1.
- Innocence: I no longer live by childhood beliefs, thoughts, stories etc, recognising that they are invalid and misleading.
- Pain: I don’t feel recurrent pain around money, or envy of others with greater wealth than me, or anger at having to work for a living.
- Knowledge: I have identified my financial goals, assessed my financial resources and planned my finances; I review frequently.
- Understanding: I know that issues around money need to be dealt with within me and that successfully understanding myself will lead to a personal transformation.
- Vigour: My life is deeply purposeful and energetic. I have passions and goals in life and the energy to act on them.
- Vision: My life is not centred on myself alone; I have a keen interest in the wider community to which I offer my resources and talents.
- Aloha or grace: I give out of kindness or compassion, not out of self-interest or in the expectation something will be returned to me.
Add up your score (a higher score indicates greater maturity). Don’t concentrate too much on your total score. Rather, look at the areas in which you scored well and celebrate these. Ask yourself how you can use your skills in these areas to improve those areas in which you scored less well.
Under the bonnet
This exercise is based on George Kinder’s concept of money maturity. Kinder identifies seven stages to money maturity ranging from childhood innocence to ‘aloha’ or the ability to give and receive unconditionally and with grace.
Kinder developed his seven stages whilst a practicing tax adviser and financial planner. His model of financial maturity is founded in psychological research as well as the literary works and influence of Blake, Dante and Shakespeare (whom Kinder regards as the outstanding commentators on human nature). He has also built the model on the asian concept of the chakras – each of the seven stages corresponds to one of these physical energy centres used in meditation and acupuncture.
The seven stages are also heavily influenced by the Tibetan Buddhist sage Shantideva who wrote of the darkness we find in the world, and the insight that suffering lies as much within ourselves as in the world, and therefore that everything we need to become free can be found within us.
Taking it further
Reflect on this.
- Ask yourself what happened as you did the exercise and describe (in a non-judgemental, truthful and self-compassionate way) the effect it had on you
- Ask yourself so what (what have you learned).
- Finally ask yourself what happens next, what next steps (if any) are you going to take
Read Kinder, George. 1999. The Seven Stages of Money Maturity, New York, Dell Publishing.
I developed this questionnaire for my clients from George Kinder’s model of the seven stages of money maturity, as set out in his book of the same name and acknowledge and celebrate his work in making us all more aware of the fun impact of money on our lives.
(Download paper version here)
The Seven Stages of Money Maturity
I declare an interest here. I have known Kinder for many years and trained under him in the US to become the UK’s first Kinder Institute Registered Financial Planner.
Seven Stages is all about life and our relationship with money. For Kinder, our emotions are at the heart of our relationship with money and his seven stages take us from emotional and financial immaturity to a place where we are utterly at ease with our money and life.
The book is illustrated with three developing case studies that introduce each chapter and numerous stories from the author’s life and elsewhere within the chapters. Kinder is extremely well read and has explored ancient and contemporary philosophers and their teachings, which provide the foundations for his thesis.
A bit heavy going in places, it is nonetheless a valuable and highly insightful book, well worth reading (and following up with Kinder’s 2014 book Life Planning for You)
Favourite quote: ‘The bearing of suffering becomes noble when it prompts us to pursue freedom’
The best books about our relationship with money
If you go into the big Waterstone’s bookshop in London you will find stack upon stack of books on how to make money (quickly), how to make money on the stock markets, investment methodologies and other GRQs (Get Rich Quick Schemes). If you are lucky you will find the one stack on personal financial planning and maybe 15 books only on the deeper aspects of money.
You will find these books listed and reviewed on Jeremy Deedes’ personal website at https://jeremy.deedes.com/books/