My Five Money Challenges

money problems

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you what I was learning about My Childhood Money Classrooms from Rachel Cruze’s book “Know Yourself Know Your Money.” I revealed that the way I grew up was a combination of her Anxious and Unstable classrooms. If you read that post, you’ll know that means that the emotional communication around money was stressed in my family. Sometimes it was verbally open, sometimes verbally closed, but always emotionally stressed. I promised that I’d keep learning more about what this means for me now. And so here I am, to report back on what I’ve learned. Thanks to her book, I’ve discovered my 5 money challenges.

Each Quadrant Has Money Challenges

There are four quadrants in her format. Each of them has typical challenges that adults face as a result of their childhood money lessons. That’s right, even the secure classroom – with verbally and emotionally open money talks – has challenges for adults. Therefore, it’s important to realize that no matter how you grew up, there’s nothing wrong with you. This is just information. You can use the information to make changes that improve the way you handle money today, regardless of your current age.

My 5 Money Challenges

Some people can probably identify a single quadrant that they fall into. However, due to my specific childhood situation, I fall squarely into two quadrants: Anxious and Unstable. Chapter 2 of Cruze’s book covers these two quadrants in depth. At the end of each section, she explains what your likely money challenges are. She was spot on with mine. Here are my 5 big money challenges, based on the combination of both of those quadrants:

1. Talking About Money Is Hard For Me

I have worked really hard to overcome this challenge. I’m a lot better about it than I used to be. Right now I’m thinking about my twenties when I was responsible for paying the rent to the landlord. Each month, when it came time to ask my roommates for their share, I struggled. I was passive aggressive. Sometimes I just paid the rent myself to avoid dealing with it. I could not talk about money. Like I said, I’ve done a lot of work on myself to overcome this. But because of lessons learned in childhood that “we don’t talk about money,” learning to talk about it openly has been really hard for me.

2. I Have Money Fears

Cruze points out that people with stressed non-communicative money childhoods end up with a lot of fear around money. Again, I’ve worked hard to address this in my life, mostly by educating myself about personal finance. However, there are still underlying money fears that crop up time and again. Cruze gives the example that many people have a fear of lack of money. She suggests a budget as a great starting point for addressing this fear. I do have some scarcity fears about money. More than that, though, my big fear is that I’ll have to do work I hate in order to have enough money. I work on this fear consistently.

3. Extending Grace

Cruze’s point here is that it’s easy to blame your parents for the bad feelings that you have about money today. She suggests instead that you recognize that they did the best that they could. I actually don’t consider this one of my money problems. I did plenty of therapy around this topic not just as it relates to money but as it relates to all aspects of their raising money. However, my parents are older adults now. And when we have to have adult conversations about money together, that’s still really hard. So I could work more to extend grace in those conversations. It’s an area of growth potential.

4. Expectations of Conflict

As I was reading this book, I told my partner about it. I said that there’s nothing specifically challenging me about our money lives together, but that I’d like to practice more money conversations to get the hang of it. And I said that I realized thanks to this book that I tend to expect any conversation about money to end up in conflict. He responded, “is that why your voice just got really high pitched when you brought this up?” WHAT? I hadn’t noticed. I really do have this expectation and it’s buried so deeply that I didn’t even realize it. So practicing lots of money conversations with lots of people in neutral settings is one of my major areas for growth.

5. Apathy

Cruze explains that the high tension of the Unstable Childhood Money Classroom can lead some people to “throw in the towel” or strike “an ostrich pose with your head buried deep in the sand.” This can mean apathy to talking about money. Alternatively, it can mean apathy to money itself I’m still puzzling over this aspect of my life. Because on the one hand it feels like I think consciously about money all of the time. But on the other hand when money overwhelms me, it’s totally true that I just go into avoidance mode. For example, when times got tough for me in 2019, I wasn’t earning enough to cover my expenses. And instead of dealing with it, I just took out a bunch of loans and decided to worry about it later. Not a good solution.

As you can see, I’m learning tons about my money psychology from this book. And I’m only on Chapter 3!

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