Recently I’ve been reading Rachel Cruze’s book “Know Yourself Know Your Money.” If you’re not familiar with her, she’s money guru Dave Ramsay’s daughter. Plus she’s a finance professional in her own right with tons of great advice and information. At the beginning of the book, she discusses your money mindset as established by your childhood home. I’m loving this information so much!
Emotional vs. Verbal Communication
Basically, there are two types of money communication: emotional and verbal.
Emotional money communication is the feeling you got in your household regarding money. It runs from a spectrum of calm to stressed. Regardless of your family’s objective financial stability, you received messages about the emotional content of money. Some households have an “it will be all right” attitude. Others are constantly expressing stress about money. This isn’t so much about what’s said. And it’s not necessarily about how much money you have. It’s about the way the adults in your household felt, and made you feel, about money.
Then there’s the verbal communication. What did your parents say to each other and to you about money? This ranges from open to closed. Some households discuss all money topics very openly. Others don’t talk about them at all. Being open doesn’t necessarily mean that you speak kindly, though. If you live in a stressed emotional household that’s open about money, then it might just mean that there are a lot of intense money arguments.
The Four Quadrants or “Major Money Classrooms”
Cruze places these two forms of communication on an intersecting axis. This creates four money mindsets or what she calls “money classrooms.”
- The Anxious Classroom: Emotionally stressed, verbally closed
- The Unstable Classroom: Emotionally stressed, verbally open
- The Unaware Classroom: Emotionally calm, but verbally closed
- The Secure Classroom: Emotionally calm and verbally open
Ideally, of course, you want to create The Secure Classroom for your own children. This means that you talk calmly, openly, honestly about money. You might involve children in some age-appropriate financial decisions. If instead you present as calm but don’t talk about money to your kids (or partner) then you end up “unaware.” While that might feel comfortable for a time, it can leave you ignorant and confused about your actual financial situation.
Money Classrooms and Attachment Styles
As soon as I read this breakdown of money classrooms, I immediately thought of attachment styles in psychology. Cruze doesn’t draw that line herself so just to be clear this is my own correlation. Basically, though, there are four childhood attachment styles. They have to do with how your primary caregiver treated you in earliest childhood. This continues to affect you all the way through adulthood. The four styles sometimes go by slightly different names but in brief they are:
- Anxious attachment, which develops as a result of inconsistent care
- Avoidant attachment, which develops when some needs are met but others are not
- Fearful avoidant attachment, which typically stems from abuse / neglect
- Secure attachment, when needs are appropriately met
In psychology, you want to learn how to develop secure attachment with your adult partners. You can move from any of the other attachment styles into secure attachment with education and practice. Likewise, as an adult you want to move into The Secure Classroom of money mindsets. And I believe that with practice and education, you can do so.
My Childhood Money Style
I’m still working on better understanding this aspect of my life. However, I believe I grew up in a mixture of the Anxious and Unstable classrooms. I would argue that the emotional content of money at home was always stressed. Most of the time it was closed verbally, hence the anxious side. However, there were times, varying depending upon parent and situations, when it became explosively open. That’s the unstable side. Armed with this information, I’m going to dig deeper into Cruze’s book to see how I can better apply this information to developing an even more secure money style in my own life as an adult today. I’ll keep you posted!
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