Excerpt: 'The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge'

How to improve your relationship with money.

Oct. 6, 2008 — -- Through the process they've used successfully with their clients, Ted Klontz, Brad Klontz and Rick Kahler have penned "The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge: 5 Principles to Transform Your Relationship With Money" to help with your financial woes.

Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "an innovative effort that combines experiential therapy with nuts-and-bolts financial planning," the book provides a practical plan for achieving financial wellness.

While Scrooge may seem to be an odd source of financial wisdom, the book focuses on your relationship with money and how to improve your money behaviors by using the five essentials of financial prosperity.

Read an excerpt of the book below.

As warped as Scrooge's behavior may seem, his actions make perfect sense when viewed in the context of his beliefs about money. Several hidden beliefs are at the root of Scrooge's misery. For example, Scrooge believed "You can't trust anyone with your money." He didn't even trust his loyal clerk, Bob Cratchit. We can see this clearly in the first chapter of A Christmas Carol:

Money Scripts

Very early in life, people begin to internalize messages about money's purpose—how it works, what it promises, its overall significance—and develop their relationship to it. Since children can't fully grasp adult reality, they translate what they see and hear into unconscious rules about life, including any internalized messages about money. These messages about money, or money scripts, don't necessarily reflect reality from the adult perspective. Instead, they may represent only a distorted or partial truth as seen through the eyes of a child. As children grow into adulthood, they often behave as though these partial truths are absolute truths. They may find themselves unable to change destructive behaviors that, at a very basic level, somehow feel right and make perfect sense. Think of a money script like the script for a play with several roles in it. The script is written by one person, and a specific role in the script is memorized by another person—an actor who plays one character in that particular play. If the actor memorizes the script and executes his lines well, the result will be exactly what the playwright intended. However, if the actor attempts to use the same script for any other role, or in any other play, the results will be disastrous. It is the same with money scripts. To learn their lines, actors must repeat them over and over. Few actors, no matter how talented, can read a script once and then deliver a flawless performance. They must practice frequently. In a similar way, the depth of any money script depends on the frequency and intensity of the original event or financial trauma. A child who hears his mother voice concern once about how the family business may fail and that they may not have money for food will probably not internalize a damaging money script. However, if the child hears his mother voice that fear monthly, weekly or daily, the result could be a deeply held belief that will influence the child's behavior well into adulthood. Our deepest, most ingrained money scripts are often formed by such examples of financial trauma. For example, when Brenda was eight years old, she, unlike the rest of her siblings, saved her money. When the rest of the family needed money, they robbed her piggy bank. Sounds sad but innocent enough, right? But little Brenda internalized the same message that Scrooge internalized: "You can't trust anyone with your money." This worked for both Scrooge and Brenda as children. However, as adults, the results of this money script didn't work for either of them—although the results for Brenda were very different from Scrooge's. As an adult, Brenda earns $250,000 a year. She needs only $100,000 to support her preferred lifestyle, but she spends the entire amount each year. She doesn't use many of the things she buys. She spends all of her money rather than saves or invests it because of an unconscious fear that others will take it away. This old belief is reinforced when her parents and siblings frequently call and want her to bail them out of some financial dilemma. By never having any money in the bank, she can say no when her siblings ask her for money. Unfortunately, spending money as quickly as she gets it makes her just like them—always broke.

Why Money Scripts Are So Powerful

Money Scripts Are Generational

Knowledge Is Power

Scrooge Chose to Be Poor

• 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's money scripts:

• You can't trust anyone with your money.

• People only want you for your money.

• You must work hard for money.

• You can never have enough money.

• Don't spend money on yourself or others.

• Money will give you meaning in life.

• The more money you have, the happier you will be.

• You can never be happy if you are poor.

• Giving to the poor encourages laziness.

• If you had more money, things would be better.

Scrooge was living in harmony with what he believed to be true. Unfortunately, many of his beliefs about money were distorted half-truths. As a result, he was living a life full of pain and loneliness and devoid of love.

Cratchit Chose to Be Poor

Cratchit's Money Scripts


• There will never be enough money.

• Money is to be spent, not saved.

• You'll be paid what you are worth.

• You can never be happy if you are rich.

• If you are good, the universe will supply your needs.

• You don't deserve money.

It's easy to see how Cratchit's unconscious money scripts, as we have defined them, keep him stuck in the role of a victim, trapped in poverty. His family supports this belief by reinforcing that Scrooge was the problem, not Bob.

Money Scripts and the Truth

Common Money Scripts