Today on Real Money, Real Experts, co-hosts Rebecca Wiggins and Dr. Mary Bell Carlson are joined by Dr. Brad Klontz, a financial planner, financial psychologist, and coauthor of six books on the psychology of money.
In this episode, Dr. Klontz dives into the world of financial therapy, exploring its similarities and differences with financial coaching and counseling, and sharing the incredible impact it can have on our personal relationship with money. We learn about our individual, deep-rooted beliefs around money called “money scripts,” how they affect us, and how we can change them.
Don’t forget, Dr. Klontz will be delivering keynote remarks at our upcoming 2021 AFCPE symposium. This episode is a must-listen, especially if you’ll be joining us in November!
00:52 Brad introduction
01:45 Brad’s introduction to the Field of Finance
04:29 How Financial Therapy Differs from Counseling & Coaching
08:51 Identifying and Working Through Money Scripts with your Clients
15:48 Importance of Talking About Money with Children
21:17 Intersectionality of Money Scripts
26:18 It’s Unromantic, but Important – Talking about Money with your Partner Early
34:47 Brad’s Two Cents
Show Note links:
Connect with Brad!
AFCPE Member Discounts
Welcome to Real Money, Real Experts, a podcast where leading financial counseling and coaching experts share their stories, their challenges, and their advice for helping people manage money in the real world. I'm your host, Rebecca Wiggins, Executive Director of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® or AFCPE®. And I'm your cohost, Dr. Mary Bell Carlson. I'm an Accredited Financial Counselor®, or AFC®, and the CEO of Chief Financial Mom. Every episode, we're taking a deep dive into the topics that the personal finance professionals care about: helping clients, building community and your professional growth.
Rebecca Wiggins (00:45):
Welcome everyone to the Real Money, Real Experts podcast. I'm Rebecca.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (00:49):
This is Mary. Thanks for taking the time to join us today.
Rebecca Wiggins (00:52):
Today on the show we are talking with Dr. Brad Klontz. Brad is a financial planner and financial psychologist. He is Managing Principal of Your Mental Wealth Advisors and is Associate Professor of Practice in Financial Psychology and Behavior Finance at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. He is also a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and Former President of the Hawaii Psychological Association. Dr. Klontz co-founded the Financial Psychology Institute and has co-authored six books on the psychology of money. His work has been featured on ABC’s 20/20, Good Morning America, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, NPR and many many more. He will also be delivering keynote remarks at the upcoming 2021 AFCPE Symposium! Welcome to the podcast, Brad. We are really excited to talk with you today.
Dr. Brad Klontz (01:43):
Rebecca and Mary, I'm honored to be here with you.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (01:45):
Brad, we know that your financial therapy is a family business for both you and your father. So tell us a little bit more about your background and how you actually got into this field.
Dr. Brad Klontz (01:54):
Sure. So I accidentally got into this field. I got my doctorate in clinical psychology along the way I had to borrow money to get there. I don't know if anyone can relate to that; student loans. But I owed a hundred thousand dollars in student loans and I was raised lower income working class. I mean, it depended on my age and what was happening in my family. My parents divorced when I was two and they were teachers, so we weren't flushed with cash. So it was the only way for me to get through school was borrowing money. But I was also raised to be afraid of debt and be really skiddish about it. And so when I saw that first year, and back then, it was like 8% was the interest rate, I saw that I paid $8,000 in interest. I was like, oh my goodness, I, I got really anxious about it. I saw a friend of mine, actually, a lot of people, make $100,000 in one year trading stocks. And the great thing about it was my friend knew nothing about stocks. And I thought, I know nothing about stocks. I can make a hundred thousand dollars trading. And so, literally this is what I did. I sold what had a value, which for me at the time was a pickup truck. And I put all the money I had into day trading and swing trading. And I had a fabulous three months and then the tech bubble burst. And the.com party ended. And I watched my money melting away and I was like, a big slap on the forehead. And the question I asked myself is how could a reasonably intelligent person do something so stupid with his money? And that's really what got me interested in financial psychology. And so for me, I did what a good recent grad from clinical psych would do or any PhD program. And I started doing lit reviews. All right, I'm going to find about, find out about my psychology around money. I'm going to set it right. And then I'm going to move forward in my life. And I really couldn't find anything. And I realized that the field of psychology at that point had totally ignored money as an area of interest. And I got even more interested at that point. And so that's really what sent me on my journey. I went home, I started interviewing my mother, my poor mother. I had done this term many times in my training as a psychologist. I put a tape recorder in front of her and I started interviewing her. What was it like for you growing up around money Mom? What, what was it like for grandma and grandpa? How did you feel about it? And these stories started to emerge from my family system, that all of a sudden, my like crazy boneheaded financial mistake made perfect sense. It made perfect sense when I saw these stories. Instantly my shame dissipated. I'm like, of course I did something so stupid around money when I understood my family history and my own psychology around money.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (04:29):
It's interesting too, as you say that, just by looking at your mistake or your decision that you were able to look at it really holistically and not as a shaming thing. And I think that's part of this is communicating about money and being able to talk about money. And so tell us how financial therapy varies from counseling or coaching. What are the similarities? What are the differences between the two?
Dr. Brad Klontz (04:54):
Yeah, so there's there's room for interpretation around this. And I just want to say that other people might be looking at it slightly different than I, how I'm going to frame it. And I think by the way, there's room for everyone to look at it in their own way, but I'll just share with you how, I've written about it, how I think about it. And, you know, so what I see is I see coaching is sort of in between financial planning and psychotherapy. And essentially coaches are equipped with knowledge around personal finance. So they have some of what financial planners would have in that regard. But they're also equipped with a set of skills that have been drawn from the therapy, the psychology world on how to help people change their behavior. So it's more than just, here's the advice, here's the information you need to know, you know, from my perspective, everybody already knows what they need to know. You know, I mean the problems we have with money aren't because people don't know the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA that that's not where we're really in trouble as a country. It's not saving for the future and spending more than we make. I've yet to find someone who doesn't already know better in those regards. And obviously we need help around it. And so that's where I see coaching coming in, is helping people facilitate change and understand themselves and Institute new behaviors and maintain those behaviors. And I see therapy in the traditional definition as treating a disorder and those disorders around money do exist. You know, compulsive buying gambling disorder, hoarding disorder, these things are medical conditions, is how we look at it in the psychotherapy world. You can bill insurance to treat these. And I just feel like when it comes to coaching and planning, you need to know what those are so that you can know when to refer someone for help and not try to tackle that in your role as a coach.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (06:47):
Absolutely. And so what I hear you saying too, is that if you are a coach and you come across something that's maybe more in a diagnosis area that you really should hand that off and not try to treat that issue. Correct?
Dr. Brad Klontz (07:01):
I absolutely believe that to be true. And that is for me too. So as a licensed clinical psychologist, who can treat all of that, if I'm in the role of, of a coach or a planner, I refer out because that is, for me, that is not the role that, first of all, it's, it's like a conflict of interest, a dual relationship in the therapy world. Like we don't even do that anyway. But I think it's also something we need to be really careful about. It's an entirely different skill set. And, yeah, I'd be looking to refer to someone else.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (07:30):
So as a financial counselor coach, how do we find those financial therapists that do work in this? What is a good area to find them? Or how do we do it?
Dr. Brad Klontz (07:38):
Yeah. So the great news is there is something called the Financial Therapy Association and Financial Psychology Institute. We have a list of people tOo, but I'd be looking to find somebody who is a licensed therapist and specializes in money. Now you can call around in your local area. I think what you're getting, which you might find is what I found. And that is that up until like a decade ago, therapy, psychology totally ignored the topic of money. And unfortunately, we did a study where we looked at the psychology of therapists and mental health providers and psychologists, and as a group, they tend to be more, money avoidance and have a negative association with money, which, you know, coming from my training, I heard it directly. I heard it like, Hey, we're here in psychology to help people not to make money and there's this aversion to it. And so that's what can make it challenging quite honestly, to find a therapist who's really skilled and open to working with people around money. I will say this though, I've noticed that couples therapists and family therapists, they are actually more accustomed to dealing with money because money is a common source of conflict in relationships.
Rebecca Wiggins (08:51):
So Brad, your work has focused a lot on money scripts, understanding our beliefs about money. And so I'm just interested in, if you could tell us a little bit more about what money scripts are and how they keep us and our clients from reaching our goals.
Dr. Brad Klontz (09:05):
So money scripts is the term I use to describe your beliefs around money. And the reason I say money script is because quite often these are scripts almost like for a play and they were written sometimes generations ago. And so you are operating in the world around a set of beliefs around money that may have been written for you two or three generations ago, which is a little bit creepy and also interesting. And, you know, just for example, that's what I found when I started interviewing my parents. I found these money scripts that went back for generations and I'll give you one that was really profound in my family system. And by the way, I had no idea this happened. So here I am bumbling around in life thinking I have an understanding around money. And in reality, two generations before me, my grandfather had a major trauma around money and all of a sudden I'm scared about being poor and everybody else's around me, which by the way we, we were, you know, and it, it was reinforcing in that sense too. So my grandfather went to the bank one day and it was closed and all the money was gone and it was the great depression. He was a young man. Traumatizing experience. I had no idea this happened to him, but I did know is that he was living in a trailer park, didn't have any money. And I didn't know this. He never put a dollar in the bank, the rest of his life. So he lived into his nineties. He kept his money in a lockbox, or he gave it away. He was very generous person. And, wow. I had no idea, but that was a traumatic experience that led to this money script. You can't trust banks. And so that's what money scripts are their beliefs to try to make sense of our experiences around money. It was really emotionally intense for him though, right? Like what an emotionally intense belief of course, based on a trauma and he couldn't shake it. And this is where these money scripts can become very dysfunctional- is he held onto it, despite the circumstances changing around him. So the federal government came in and started to guarantee bank accounts. And all of a sudden it became safe to put your money in a bank. But my grandfather was so traumatized. He never did it. And so all of a sudden, my mom's anxiety around money, her fear and mistrust of the stock market. She only put money in CDs, which is one step better, but terribly, terribly afraid of not having enough. And here I come and I, what all I know is I don't want to be poor like my family. And so I call it a dysfunctional pendulum swing. I'm like, I'm going to go do this. And it was like, it was the riskiest possible thing to do. And I realized too that if I hadn't done that dig in, in my family system, I probably would have landed where my grandfather landed. And I probably would have said to myself, you can't trust, you know, you can't trust financial institutions with your money. And what's so fascinating is I would have then repeat it three generations, the entire family script, I would have lost out on, you know, 20 years of stock market returns and growth. And so that's how these things play out in family. So for most of us, we're not conscious of these beliefs cause we really haven't thought about it and money is taboo topic. I think it's great. We're talking about money here to break that taboo. And so they're partially true and they drive our financial behaviors and the studies that we've been doing on this and more and more studies coming out, they predict things like your income, your net worth, your credit card behaviors and a whole host of other financial behaviors.
Rebecca Wiggins (12:16):
Wow gosh, I have so many follow-up questions for you. There were so many interesting things that you just shared and I'm thinking too, like, it seems obvious to me now, but I should be interviewing my parents. And you know, sometimes you think about the history of your family, but I've never really thought to ask them about their mindset around money and their beliefs. So that's given me a little bit of homework here, but I guess one of my questions is, you know, would you say, does everyone have a money script? And how do we determine what that is?
Dr. Brad Klontz (12:44):
Yes. So everybody absolutely does. We have beliefs around money very often they're developed in childhood. So we hadn't really thought about it much, you know? Just one funny story, and this is crazy. So I just told you about a very dramatic and traumatic story. I was working with another person, and, and Mary you'll love this. So everyone in his family went to K-State. So they'd all gone to Kansas State and, which is great. I was teaching at Kansas State at the time. I thought it was really interesting. And then he, he told me he didn't go to college at all. And I thought that was really curious. So his wife went, his siblings went even as parents went and I'm like, why didn't you go to college? And, he's like, I don't really know. I just, you know, became an entrepreneur. I'm like, hold on. Just, just let's think about it for a little bit, you know? And then a light bulb went on for him and he's like, oh my gosh, I, I was playing the game of life. Okay. So life was an old board game and he goes, and I realized that if I didn't go down the route of college, I could start making money sooner in the game of life. So he decided to go to college or not based on a board game. And he came to this conclusion as a child and he never thought about it. And so there's some danger in that, you know, right. It's like, wow, these childlike minds that can't see the entire context, we make assumptions about money. We never talk about money. And so they never have the opportunity to be challenged or changed.
Rebecca Wiggins (14:05):
How do we change them? Is that something that's even possible? Or is it just first, you obviously have to know that you have it and have that awareness, but what would you say about changing them?
Dr. Brad Klontz (14:14):
Yeah, so absolutely they can be changed. And we've seen this in studies where, you know, even an hour intervention can shift some beliefs around money. I mean, once we start talking about it, you know, as I'm talking about it, your listeners are probably thinking about their beliefs around money and their money history. And so there's so much value in doing that. And so having some awareness around it, like I loved your idea of, of going back and interviewing your family. Like, what was it like for you growing up, mom? What, what, how did you feel about your socioeconomic status or even to think about for yourself, you know, what three things did your mother teach you about money? What three things did your father teach you about money? And once you identify those beliefs and you're going to find them very quickly, then you ask yourself, you know, have these helped me? Have they hurt me? And what's a more accurate way of looking at this? Like how can I adapt this belief? And really that's, that's what I think health is, is being able to be adaptable and, and be able to shift our beliefs with changing times in our lives. I think that's health. I think the more rigidly we hold on to a belief, the more likely it will be dysfunctional over time. So you have to identify them first and then figure out where they came from. And there's something amazing about that process. And for me, it was very cathartic. It was like when I could blame my mother, that's my favorite psychology joke when I can, blame my family, you know, and put it into context, all of a sudden my shame melted away. It's like, you know, of course, of course I did this because shame keeps us stuck. So I actually think it can be somewhat therapeutic to blame your family system or your culture or the socioeconomic group that you grew up in for your beliefs, because your, your outcomes in life make perfect sense based on those beliefs.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (15:48):
This is fascinating. Brad, one of the things that I've even wondering if so many of these behaviors start in childhood, should we be talking about money more with our children or what are the thoughts there?
Dr. Brad Klontz (16:01):
I think we absolutely should because your kids are coming up with all these distorted beliefs around money based on your behaviors. And they're only partially true. And I'll give you an example. My wife and I moved to Colorado from Hawaii a couple of years ago. And I asked my son, I thought, I'd do this clever little, you know, question for my six year old. And I'm like, Hey, Ethan, if you had a million dollars, what would you do with it? You know, cause I wanna assess his financial literacy. And, and he goes, well, he goes, I would give it to you and mommy, so you could pay the movers. And I was like, oh yes. I mean, I'm like, whoa. So I'm like, whoa, where did he get that? And then I had to think about it and I'm like, oh my gosh, he probably heard his mom and I in, in somewhat perhaps of a heated debate over which moving company to go with based on the cost. And he walked away with this. My parents can't afford movers and just a really good example and we could afford movers. And I'm so glad that I asked him and followed up because he was walking away with, an erroneous belief that he's just trying to sort out what's happening in the family. So, you know, thank goodness I talked to him about that. And so I think having conversations. And so like we recently bought a house too, and I talked, you know, kids will have questions, Hey, we're buying a house. Oh, where are we getting the money? You know? And so there's your opportunity to explain to them about a mortgage and about a down payment. So look for those opportunities.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (17:23):
And so Brad, what I hear you saying is the fact that you should just be talking about money. You should be communicating openly, not just with your spouse or with your parents, but with your children as well. And the more conversations you have, the more you're able to work through some of these money scripts that have taken place.
Dr. Brad Klontz (17:41):
I think so. And I think a barrier to that for many of us is that we feel ashamed about our own relationship with money. And so I think it's, it's really important to just be aware of you do not have to have it all together to start having those conversations with your kids. You can talk about how you wish you had done things and you can talk about what we're doing right now. You know, I made mistakes in the past, you know, I got money and I spent it and I wasn't saving and investing it. That's a beautiful conversation to have with your kids because it's like, oh, okay. So you, you made a mistake and then you made it right. And you did something different. Even that in itself is an incredible lesson. So looking for those opportunities to just pass some of that literacy down and not only that, but how do you structure allowance? How are you, how are you teaching your kids? What you value, like do you value hard work? Do you value ambition initiative? So how are you teaching that with your kids?
Rebecca Wiggins (18:31):
That's what I was going to say. It seems like such a great opportunity to bring in values too, and really align that with the decisions you make with your money and talk about that with your kids at an early age.
Dr. Brad Klontz (18:40):
I'll give you a little hack to like what I don't think you should ever tell your kids is we can't afford that because that will lead to a money script of like, oh, money scarce, we're poor. We can't get what we want. I mean, there's a whole host of money scripts. What's better is saying, we, we choose not to spend our money that way. Ooh, okay. Well, what do you mean? Because here's my argument. You could sell everything you own right now and go to Disney world. Of course you could. So you're making a choice not to do that. You know, so it's not that you can't afford it. It's like you're choosing not to do that based on your values. And so that, that, that's a beautiful door opening for you to talk about why you're not doing that. Why aren't you sacrificing everything today, you know, for tomorrow to spend all your money today. You must have a good reason for that. So explain that to your children.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (19:23):
Brad you make this sound so simple. I mean, it just rolls off your tongue automatically because you've been researching this for so long, but for the rest of us that don't have this automatic research library in our brains, how do we have these conversations? Do you have any good tip sheets or points or where should we go to have these conversations to kind of help us out in knowing what to ask?
Dr. Brad Klontz (19:46):
Yeah. That, that's actually a really good question. I don't, I feel like when it comes to parenting too, like there's nothing more useless than somebody else telling you what you should do with your children. I hate to say that I'm a clinical psychologist who worked with kids for years and years and years. And I'll tell you what, I knew everything until I had a child and then I knew nothing. So I feel like it's just something we have to experiment with. Like the, the one tip I will give is don't dump your financial anxiety and stress on your kids. So talk about money, but make sure it's developmentally appropriate. Like don't involve them in conflicts, around divorce, around money. Don't have them answer the phone when the creditors are calling, all these things I've, I've seen happen by the way. So we want to be careful about not passing down anxiety to them, but just starting the conversation and even like, even all the books on talking to your kids about sex. I mean, it's, it's, I'm not sure if you've had that conversation with your own kids. It's like, you have to throw those out the door because your kid will start asking questions that aren't in the book and it's like, hold on a second, hold on a second. Let me find the manual And they're going to talk about it before you're ready. And so I think it's just having an open mind to these are conversations that are important and they're ones that I want to start having. And once your kids go to school, they're going to start to see, for example, you know, the disparities in income and either you're going to have more than someone else or they're going to have, you're going to have less than others and these conversations are going to materialize. And so just being prepared and open to having those and stumbling your way through them.
Rebecca Wiggins (21:17):
Okay. So let's talk about your research a bit in your work. You talk about how mindsets often vary across income levels. So someone with wealth may have a very different mindset than someone who has low income. Can you just tell us a little bit more about this research?
Dr. Brad Klontz (21:32):
So we've definitely seen beliefs differ according to socioeconomic status. So that's number one. There's, there's no question about this. Be people from different socioeconomic groups have different beliefs around money. I mean, it makes sense that they would, right. They're having different experiences around money. And also certain belief patterns will set you up to climb the socioeconomic economic ladder while other beliefs will keep you stuck. So, so that's sort of undebatable at this point. I think what's fascinating is thinking about somebody who wants to move into a different socioeconomic group. By the way, it doesn't really matter which way you go on the ladder, but for most people they're trying to climb the ladder. So we'll use that as an example. And it's really tough because we have beliefs around money. It's we call it our financial comfort zone, or, you know, essentially it's the group of people that you're hanging around your family, your friends, we cluster together around certain beliefs. This is why you love your friends because they're, they're so smart. They see the world exactly the way you do. Right. And the challenge though is if you start to break out of that mindset, what happens is your brain gets triggered on a survival level and it almost feels like it's a threat to your survival. So what I'm about to describe to you explains why lottery winners blow their money. Why people who come into inheritances blow their money and actually quite quickly, this is the average person. This is what they do. It's unusual that somebody will hold onto their money. And the only way that I can really understand this is to think about how we have evolved as a species. So 99.9% of our time on this planet has been us closely involved with a group of a hundred, to 150 people in a tribal like group. And so it always, so this is how we're wired. We're wired to vary to pay attention to what the Joneses are doing. I, I think it's always laughable when people say, oh, you shouldn't care about what other people think. It's like, you know, yeah. BS, like everybody cares about how other people think it's impossible not to care about what other people think about you. And so just understanding that we're all vulnerable to that because that is what allowed us to survive. If the people who don't care about what the other people in their group feel about them, those genes died out a long time ago. Cause you got booted out of the tribe or you got killed or, you know, I mean, we didn't want you around. And so what is so challenging is as you start to move and climb that socioeconomic ladder, what happens is it puts you a bunch of stress on those relationships and your brain fires off and said, oh no, I'm going to die. I'm leaving my tribe. I'm going to die. And so it takes a lot of mental fortitude. I tell people who come into large sums of money and I say it a bit tongue in cheek, but, and for some dramatic effect, but I tell them that you have two choices unless you work really, really hard. It's number one, get rid of all your money or to get rid of all your friends, because there's a lot of stress and strain that comes along with it. Nobody believes it until they've seen it firsthand. I can run through a bunch of scenarios that are stressful, but essentially people start to distance themselves from their family and friends. And most of them to be honest, because there's so much stress put on the relationship. And so that's one of the reasons why we stay where we are.
Rebecca Wiggins (24:42):
So how does race, culture or gender affect money beliefs?
Dr. Brad Klontz (24:47):
They have a profound impact on money beliefs. And, when you, when you talk about culture too, there's, and race is in there, you know, different ethnic groups have different beliefs around money. So for example, and this is, a lot of studies done on this, Latino Americans, African-Americans, they, they have very different beliefs around their relationship with their family and what's expected. And by the way, these studies have controlled for all the things that you might think about like, oh, income, proximity to family members, et cetera. There's a cultural belief and expectation that you are going to take care of your family in a way that isn't true for Caucasians as a group. I will say there are subgroups of Caucasians though, who have the same thing. And what comes to mind for me is Appalachian Americans and lower socioeconomic groups. So there's so many different ways to look at culture. The other thing is we are socializing boys and girls differently around money. So for example, women are more likely to report that they feel or okay, or more okay with being financially dependent than boys. We are interested in introducing boys to money earlier in families. We're expecting them to get jobs and be more financially independent. Again, this that's more of a Caucasian group. Latinos actually raised kids to be more equal around that, boys and girls. And so absolutely so huge impacts on gender huge impacts when it comes to, race and culture.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (26:18):
And Brad, How do you see these play out in relationships?
Dr. Brad Klontz (26:21):
Yeah, so relationships, oh my goodness. You've just made everything much more complicated, right? So here you are, you have your money scripts that you've inherited from your family. And then all of a sudden you're with somebody else and guess what? They have different money scripts. They do. Your you're going to find areas of contention. Absolutely. And I see these as opportunities for you to evolve your own money mindset. You know, like for example, my, I told you a little bit about my background and when I met my wife, I had a mattress on the floor. I had lawn chairs and I had a $500 car that I drove and I don't know why, what she saw in me that was attractive. It could be that I was very aggressively saving for my future. Right.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (27:01):
It's cuz you sold your truck, right,
Dr. Brad Klontz (27:04):
Exactly. I learned my lesson and I was like, okay, I'm going to pay off, I paid off my loans in three years, by the way, after that debacle, because I was living like that. So that's my hack for paying off your loans, just continue to live in abject poverty. You're used to it as a student, pay those things off in three years. So that's what I did, but my wife came along around this point and, you know, again, I, she probably was attracted to the fact that, you know, here's, here's somebody who seems driven to have some financial security. I was probably attracted to the fact that she, she liked couches and, you know, it's really funny, they're really comfortable. So this is one of the things that my wife brought into my life was, you know, the, the, the part of, of spending some money now to improve your life and to have a better experience of life. And I'll, I'll thank her for that, but there's been a bunch of conflict around that. And I'm like, what would you want us to buy a couch? Are you crazy? You spend thrift you. And so, you know, I had, you know, having her in my life helped me, frankly, become a more balanced person around money. And, that's not to say it's not easy, that it's easy because quite often what we do is will vilify the other person. And so people in that conflict will be like, I can't believe you're an over spender. I can't believe you're so cheap. And then what, what happens is when we fight like that, we become more entrenched and more ridiculous in our approach to money because we want to try to balance the other person out. And so, yeah, couples and money. Really, really interesting. Lots of conflict quite often. It's the number one reason couples divorce in the first three years of marriage. And so one of the things I like to do is have couples go back and have the conversation they should have had on date seven. We could debate which date, right. But the date where you start talking about, do you want to have kids? I think it's okay to talk about money at that point. Some people even think that that's too early, but like, you know, what was it like for you growing up? What are your biggest financial fears? What are your financial goals? What did your mom teach you about money? How did you feel about your socioeconomic status? What are you wanting in a relationship around money? Wouldn't it be incredible if we could have that conversation early in a relationship?
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (29:07):
Brad, I'm happy to tell you that my husband and I had this discussion on date number two, and I am shocked that we actually got married because I thought that would run him off.
Rebecca Wiggins (29:18):
Could be a good test though.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (29:19):
But I do have a follow-up question for you on that. So there's a lot of breadth and depth in terms of these mindsets and varying in relationships. So how did coaches and counselors help navigate these differences in these money scripts when working with couples?
Dr. Brad Klontz (29:34):
So what I like to do with couples in conflict is I like to take whatever it is they're arguing about. Like, I don't even really what that is. You know, it's a list of 10 things, right? We all know what it is. And I like to just set that aside and I like them to have the conversation they should have had on date two, congratulations. And quite literally, I trained them to sit there and be good listeners and reflectively listen to their partner. And it has a couple impacts, right? Number one, you're the partners never thought about any of this and neither of you, you know, so what did your mother teach you about money? And so I literally have them fill that out and then come to the table and listen to each other and talk to each other, because again, your partner's experience around money and their behaviors are going to make perfect sense to you if you understand where they're coming from and their money scripts. So I think it's a great opportunity. And then what I notice is once we do that and you really feel heard and understood, and you understand your partner on a much deeper level, whatever this little thing was, you were going to negotiate on. It becomes a lot easier to negotiate. And my father said this once Dr. Ted Klontz the senior, I thought this was incredibly unromantic, but he said that a successful relationship is a series of successful negotiations. Isn't that unromantic? I mean, it's true though. You know, there's not a lot of passion in that, dad, come on, where's the love. But really that's what it comes down to. So how do you, you're going to have to negotiate a whole list of things around money. Like I had to, I decided to save less and, and, my wife decided probably to save more than her comfort level and we met in the middle and I gotta tell you it's benefited me and I, and I think it's benefited her.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (31:13):
So Brad, let me ask you this. Would you recommend that couples navigate these discussions on their own, or is it better to work with a financial counselor coach or therapist when having these conversations?
Dr. Brad Klontz (31:24):
Well, I think everybody needs a coach and a therapist and, or a therapist. That's just my personal opinion, including me. And my wife and I have one and we use him on occasion. Absolutely. And so that's my bias. I'm not just saying that, you know, because you know, that's my profession and that's our profession. Right. But I truly believe that's the case. I also think it's fine to do it on your own. Try it on your own. You know, if, if you have success in being a good listener and reflect and, and all of that absolutely, go it alone. But I always think it's great to have that emergency response plan in place. So I think it's great for couples to have somebody in mind already that, that they've identified where if they keep butting heads around a certain issue, that they're not going to wait until this destroys their relationship, which by the way, it will, it will destroy your relationship. The average couple gets into therapy after, the average couple that goes to therapy has been fighting about this issue for seven years before they go into therapy. I just think that's tragic. It's just, you're going to be resentful. You're going to have all these negative experiences. Ugh, don't do that. Don't wait.
Rebecca Wiggins (32:30):
Yeah. And sometimes I think that kind of stuff can fester to the point where you may not even understand that that's a low level issue. And so even just the idea of normalizing, you know, seeking out somebody who can be that trusted, unbiased professional, who can help guide those discussions or bring to the surface what might be simmering and that you may not have language around. So I think this conversation is so helpful because it's reminding us of having these conversations with our kids, with our partners. But, you know, if, if you don't have that reminder or somebody who's kind of holding you accountable to do that, I think sometimes those things can fester. So I like the idea of normalizing, however, on whatever sort of regular cadence, it could be a quarterly check-in or, you know, twice a year, but having somebody, as you said, that emergency plan, I think makes so much sense. So Brad, I have a question for you then for our professionals, how can our counselors use your assessments in their practice or with their families?
Dr. Brad Klontz (33:25):
Yes. So I, I think you're referencing the client's money script inventory, and we have a, financial health scale and we have a client's behavior, financial behavior inventory. These are scales that, you know, remember how I mentioned psychology, hadn't done anything in this area. So I did not want to develop scales. You know, I mean, no offense to all the nerds out there, but we needed stuff to measure people's behaviors and their beliefs and their financial health, because we were trying to develop approaches to help people improve them. And so at the end of the day, we do have these assessments. I know a lot of people are using them. They find the academic papers they're published in. They, you know, have that list and they put it in a PDF and they give it to clients. Recently, I have, I'm super excited about this, teamed up with Data Points where, they, they were able with their technology to put it online for advisors. And so that's rolled out a couple of months ago. So it's been really exciting for me to see advisors be able to white label those and use those with their clients. And, and essentially it just emails out the questions. The client fills it out. You can get the report and go over it with them. That's usually what I recommend versus just sending them a report as part of your coaching session, you know, going over the results with them, as well as an action plan around it.
Rebecca Wiggins (34:38):
We actually have a partnership with Data Points. So we'll include in the show notes, the link to the membership discount to access that for anyone who's interested.
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (34:47):
This has been such an engaging interview, and we're really excited to see you at this year's Symposium. We do want to get your 2 cents or biggest takeaways for our listeners. If you had one piece of advice to offer our financial professionals, what would it be?
Dr. Brad Klontz (35:01):
It would be to look at your client as more than just someone who lacks financial literacy and your job is to educate them and tell them what to do. In my, I don't want to diminish financial literacy in any way. I mean, I'm an educator myself, right? Education's really important. But I do believe that the biggest sticking points for people have to do with what we're talking about right now, what they're, what, how they were raised around money, what their parents taught them. So I would just encourage people to look at their clients more holistically like that, and to not be afraid to those conversations, because it's incredibly freeing for people when they can put their financial mistakes in the context of this broader, like family history and just, I find it to be, for me, it was extremely de-shaming. Like I just shared everything with you and, and, you know, unabashedly like no shame because it's, it's my grandpa's fault. It's not my fault. And so, and so of course, you know, he got where he was based on his experiences. And so just understanding that I feel like just, just frees up so much energy. That for me, when I was aware of that, it, it, it just like I became unstoppable in terms of opening the door to becoming financially literate and learning everything I can because I no longer felt ashamed.
Rebecca Wiggins (36:22):
Well, I have some homework cut out for myself. I know I'm going to be scheduling some interviews with my husband and my parents. And so they're going to be thrilled about that, but Brad, thanks so much for joining us today. Will you just tell our listeners where they can connect with you?
Dr. Brad Klontz (36:36):
So I am @drbradklontz on all of your favorite social media, including Tik TOK, please, please get on Tik TOK and create some good financial literacy content. There's tons of young people on there, and they're just getting fed garbage. So anyway, not to go off on a tangent there, but I'm on Instagram and LinkedIn and my website is bradklontz.com
Rebecca Wiggins (36:59):
Thank you so much. This was wonderful.
Dr. Brad Klontz (37:01):
Thanks for having me,
Dr. Mary Bell Carlson (37:02):
Rebecca. Brad is one of my favorites in this industry. I just love not just reading his research and what he's done, but when you talk to him or if you follow him, and this is a shout out to any of you on any social media platform, you've got to follow Brad because you think he's this stuffy behind the desk professor. Yet you watch him on social media and you're like, there is no stuffiness about this guy he's really into Tik Tok and making all of this information accessible to everyone. And really like, kind of like he did with us today is helping it become normal, you know. For him to be able to share his stories and talk about some of those things that brought him shame for so many years and yet making it normalized. And I think that's something as professionals I'd love to see more and more is realizing the human aspect of all of us, of the mistakes we've made the lessons we've learned from those and how we've grown from that. And that's what I really appreciate about Brad is he kind of just tackles it and says, sure, this is the mistake I've had, but this is what's grown out of it. And I've been able to give back to the profession. I mean, there's so much that he's given our professionals and so many other professionals, financial planners included, of all these communication techniques to be able to talk to clients and have these discussions to get rid of the shame and embarrassment that goes along.
Rebecca Wiggins (38:23):
Yeah, absolutely. I could have talked with him for a long time and he's very engaging, as you said, it makes it really relatable and something you want to dig into and have conversation around. So yeah, I'm very excited to have him at the conference. I think that he's really gonna, you know, do a great job of engaging our professionals and really bringing this, you know, to the forefront in terms of mindsets and understanding your own mindset. And then of course, how that pertains to practice with clients. So today's conversation talked a lot about behavior change and the importance of addressing clients as an individual with a story. The AFC certification, uniquely prepares professionals to meet clients where they are. So if you're interested in becoming an AFC, we are currently offering individual certification scholarships and group capacity building scholarships. You can learn more by checking out our show notes or visiting our website afcpe.org. And if you want to hear more from Brad, please join us this November 15th through 19th for the 2021 AFCPE virtual symposium. We'll have more than 50 hours of content, both live and on demand. And there'll be lots of opportunities to learn and connect with other professionals doing important work in the field of financial counseling, planning, and education. Just make sure you register by our early bird deadline of October 15th to save.
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