Excerpt: 'The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge'

Another parent told of his distress in realizing that his seven-year-old had no idea where money comes from or what is involved in acquiring it. He learned this when he told her she could not have something she wanted because there was no money for it. Her response was, "Daddy, just go to the wall and get some." She had learned that money comes from "the wall," better known to adults as an ATM. In fact, we have worked with a number of clients who tell us that one of their beliefs is that "Money is not real." Since it is not real, then there is nothing to deal with.

Money scripts and their consequences, such as the ones we have mentioned, are much more of a potential problem than ever. Two generations ago, if you got a good job, worked hard and were a loyal employee, at the end of twenty-five, thirty or forty years of service, you received an adequate guaranteed retirement. That, along with Social Security, would pretty much guarantee you would have sufficient funds for the rest of your life. Now, however, both corporate America and the Social Security system have changed radically. Fewer companies offer defined benefits retirement plans. Fewer employees choose or even have the option of lifetime employment. And the Social Security system is bending and threatening to collapse under the weight of too many recipients, too few contributors and the extended life spans of the beneficiaries. Given this reality, old money scripts and their resulting behaviors can be disastrous.

Knowledge Is Power

The following sections examine the money scripts driving Scrooge, Cratchit and many people today. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be ready to begin recognizing at least some of your own money scripts. In some cases, awareness, along with a commitment to change, is enough to change behavior that is being driven by an unconscious belief and can help clear the way for conscious beliefs to move into the driver's seat.

Scrooge Chose to Be Poor

As we've mentioned, despite his great wealth, Ebenezer Scrooge unconsciously chose to be poor. Of course, if the definition of poor were measured solely by one's bank account, Scrooge would certainly not fit that definition. On the other hand, if you define poor as a measure of the quality of one's physical environment, emotional health, relationship quality and lifestyle, then Scrooge would certainly qualify as poor. Scrooge's excessive hoarding created an impoverishment as real as any caused by financial distress. Ironically, Scrooge's money scripts created the very poverty and isolation that Young Scrooge had so desperately tried to avoid.

• As an apprentice under Fezziwig, Young Scrooge had to sleep under a counter at the warehouse. As an adult, Scrooge lives in a dreary old apartment that was as cold and sparse as a warehouse.
• As a child, Scrooge spent the holidays alone at the warehouse. As an adult, Scrooge spends the holidays alone in his rooms.
• As a child, Scrooge was poor. As an adult, Scrooge lives a meager existence, eating sparingly and barely heating or lighting his tiny dwelling.

Scrooge lived in a poverty created by his own beliefs and behaviors around money.
Scrooge's Money Scripts As we observe Scrooge's behaviors, we can begin to see the money scripts that drove them. These are just a few of

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