This week’s post is a condensed version of a newsletter that Anne Lieberman, a Certified Lefkoe Method Facilitator, wrote a few years ago.  She talks about the relationship between money and The Lefkoe Method based on her experience as one of the top 100 Financial Advisors in the U.S. before she retired.

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Anne Lieberman 073013Background. As a financial advisor, I spent two decades teaching people tools and techniques for managing their money in ways that would take the worry out of it and meet important financial goals like educating children and retiring comfortably.

People Get Stuck. I noticed there were clients who couldn’t follow the custom financial plans I created for them. They had the knowledge and motivation to move forward. But for some reason, they were unable to right their financial ship and sail it to their destination. I wanted to help them get in gear and steam ahead. Doing so was clearly beyond my skill.  They had money habits, behaviors or issues that were beyond what I could resolve with an advisor’s tool kit. I cast about for someone else who could help them and identified two people. I sent some clients to a financial counselor who worked from a framework of addiction and began at the level of detailed monthly spending. I sent others to a PhD. psychologist who specialized in money issues.  Once these two professionals had worked their magic, my clients were able to move forward toward their financial goals.

Lefkoe Method (TLM) and Money Issues. Now that I’ve changed hats, it is my job to work with clients to identify and resolve money issues.  It’s interesting to note that TLM incorporates an addiction model and also alters the client’s relationship to money by shedding light on unworkable patterns of financial behavior.  Finally, TLM has techniques for finding and eliminating the beliefs that keep those problem patterns in place.

A Sampling of Money Beliefs.  The Lefkoe Institute recently did an Internet survey asking people what money beliefs they would most like to eliminate. A self-selected sample voted on 16 money beliefs from a list drawn from Certified Lefkoe Method Facilitators’ experience with clients. Here are a few of the beliefs that most bedeviled the participants:

I’ll never have enough money.
Money is a struggle.
I’m not deserving.
Money just comes to some people and I’m not one of them.

Where do financial patterns show up?

Three Realms. Many people do not have a workable relationship with money. When they don’t, it shows up in one or more of three realms: earning, spending and saving/investing.

Earning. One of my clients was an under-earner. Her pattern showed up in lower earnings when compared to others in her profession with similar education and experience. I have worked with other clients who find themselves unable to ask for raises or unable to present a case to the boss that demonstrates their value and contributions. Many go unnoticed in the workplace because they have beliefs like, “It’s not OK to blow your own horn” or “It’s not OK to brag.”  Finally, it is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to under charge for their services. This is especially true of female entrepreneurs. What typically drives patterns like these are beliefs about our unworthiness or about not deserving things or our fears about being singled out or receiving recognition. These beliefs are usually rooted in early childhood.

Spending. When clients have spending issues, it is almost always overspending. It shows up in one of two ways. Either the client maintains — almost perpetually — levels of debt that cause discomfort; or the client has not been able to save and recognizes the vulnerability associated with having nothing set aside for emergencies or for the future. In extreme cases, there may be one or more bankruptcies.

Overspending has so many drivers I hesitate to attempt to outline them in a paragraph. Here are just a few to give you the flavor. Some overspending is driven by the need to keep up with the Joneses and feel socially acceptable or good about oneself in some other way. Another driver is the need to spend on others, to nurture others. People with this pattern are often looking for love or they were rewarded in childhood for assuming a caretaking role in the family. Still others spend for a sense of power. They may have experienced feelings of powerlessness in childhood.

These drivers may be mild or extreme or any place in between.  Compulsive spenders represent one extreme of the spectrum.  They are driven to experience the “hit” they get from spending–whether it be a feeling of power, of happiness, of momentary relief from wanting or a dozen other things.

Keep in mind that it’s not a bad thing to enjoy material things, to spend money on others, to enjoy one’s economic power or to enjoy other pleasures that may come from buying a new outfit or a new car. We’re talking now about having so much of those kinds of behaviors that they undermine our financial well-being.

Before we leave spending, it’s important to note that some people have difficulty spending and it causes just as much pain and discomfort in their lives as overspending does. This is a rarer money issue and I have not worked with anyone who has it. However, I attended a Debtors Anonymous meeting when preparing for a radio program on money behaviors. I interviewed a non-spender after the meeting. She owned just one pair of earrings and had lost one of the pair. A replacement pair would have cost about five dollars. She couldn’t bear to spend the money and instead moved the remaining earring from one ear to the other, each day, so that the holes in her ears would not close. At the root of her pattern: feelings of unworthiness and fear of not having money.

Saving and Investing.  The most common patterns in this realm are the inability to save and the inability to take enough investment risk to get ahead financially. The inability to save stems primarily from overspending. But it can also be rooted in a distaste for “having” money. In my family of origin, for example, I was taught that the good people are poor people and that rich people (meaning middle class or more) sell their souls to get money.  It would be a challenge save and invest with those kinds of beliefs!

The inability to take prudent investment risk is more likely to come from experience as an investor or from having lived through (or had parents who lived through) a time like the Great Depression. Beliefs that sustain this pattern may be formed in childhood–or later in life–when people generalize from an experience and expect the future to be like the past, ignoring the possibility that changes in circumstances or tactics might produce a different outcome.

Anne M. Lieberman is a Certified Lefkoe Method Facilitator. 


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