What is Your Money Operating System?
Everyone has a system of money use. Knowing the system is essential to understanding personal finance.
- By: Lu Bauer
Money is a big deal in our lives. We work for it, worry about it, and sometimes win it. Money is involved when we're born, married and pass on. Being good with money is valued in our society. Having more is part of the American dream. Our economic system is based on growth and development, more and more. And the "more" usually means money.
Is being good with money something we are born with, or without? Perhaps our families taught us how to "do it" while other families simply didn't talk about money. Maybe some folks started with more than we did, and that's why they're doing so well?
Were you taught in school how to save or how to use credit wisely? Did you learn about the time value of money? About borrowing and interest expense, or how compound interest makes your money work for you?
As children we actually learned about money by watching our families handle it. We either accepted or rejected what we saw. We also adopted beliefs about money from comic books, stories, teachers, church, our friends, family legends, radio or television shows and advertising.
Consider what you learned as a child! Were you told, loud and clear, that money is `none of your business?' Did you learn that the man earns the money and the wife spends it? If you grew up poor, your family likely valued each other more than material things. If your family was better off than others, you learned not to show it.
Double messages were confusing. Wasn't the purpose of life to acquire as much money as possible, so you would appear better off and gain more respect? Yet, it was not okay to talk about how much you had! More confusing was two parents with differing money styles. One might have been thrifty, even a hoarder, while the other might have been blissfully spending and acquiring. Such families experience tension around money.
Each person's money story is unique - some more confusing, some more self-limiting. Your judgment of these experiences forms a personal belief system about money that I call your Money Operating System, or MOS. Like a computer operating system, it is the core of your relationship with money.
Throughout life, your mind automatically refers to your MOS as you deal with money. It tells you when to worry that you won't have enough, when to save, when you need to buy, buy, and buy! It tells you how to use money to gain and use power in relationships. It tells you how good you can feel about yourself in this world of achievement and success.
Your MOS was formed subconsciously. This belief system is firmly established in most children by the age of 14. After that, because you were not supposed to talk about money, your MOS rules have been pretty much accepted without question.
Later in life, you may realize that you have money problems. You discover that dealing with money is uncomfortable in some ways or that your approach to money is self-defeating. You may find you are tired of always worrying about money or being chronically in debt. When you take a closer look at your life, you may find that some of your MOS rules no longer serve you.
It's good in these turbulent times to examine your MOS - as you never have before. Try to start talking about your relationship with money. Can you begin some discussion in therapy or support groups, or with friends or family? Explore your money history to discover what the really operative beliefs are. You may find help in books and classes about money issues or money management.
Perhaps most helpful would be finding a money mentor, someone you trust who seems to "do money" comfortably and who can be open with you. Frank discussions with them will take some of the mystery out of wise money management. You may then begin to replace the old rules with newer, more helpful beliefs through the use of affirmations and visualization techniques. You know your own personal tools that enable you to create and support change.
Now, envision what your life will be like with your new MOS. I recommend you actually create a description, or even draw a picture, of the new you dealing with money in a positive, healthy way. Keep it in front of you as you continue this journey.
You are ready for change and have a vision you believe in. You can do it!
It is time to begin.
LU BAUER, CPA is a money counselor and financial advisor in Brunswick, Maine. She is available for consultations (207-729-0531) with those who want to improve their relationship with money and better understand their business. Visit www.moneybalancingact.com for other articles helpful to individuals, families and owners of small businesses.
- By: Lu Bauer