The Secret Language of Money

The Secret Language of Money

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How to Make Smarter Financial Decisions and Live a Richer Life



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Book Details
 289 p
 File Size 
 1,059 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 2009 by David Krueger 

Awell-known therapist once observed, “Money questions will be
treated by cultured people in the same manner as sexual matters,
with the same inconsistency, prudishness and hypocrisy.” The year was
1913. The therapist was Sigmund Freud, early explorer of the secretive,
unspoken side of the human psyche.1
Today, nearly a century since Freud wrote those words, most of us
have come to speak far more openly about sex, yet we remain embarrassed
and conflicted when it comes to talking about our money. If you
doubt this, ask the hosts of your next dinner party what their annual
income is. You probably won’t be on the guest list for their next event.
Ask how much debt they have, and you may not see dessert. That’s the
nature of our relationship with money: silent, forbidden—and unexamined.
It may be true (as Freud himself is alleged to have said) that
sometimes a cigar is just a cigar—but even Freud might have agreed
that a $500 cigar is something else altogether.
Our relationship with money is strange, to say the least. It certainly
goes well beyond the simple numbers it takes to tally up what we earn
and what we owe. If money were about math, none of us would be carrying
any debt. The numbers are simple. What’s complex is what we do
with money: we give it meaning. We breathe life into money and give it
emotional value. We make it bigger than it is. We use money to do things
money isn’t designed to do, and that’s where things get complicated.
Money is a magnifier. Like adversity, it reveals and exaggerates character.
For a problem drinker, money creates more drunkenness. For the
habitually insecure, money can make them paranoid. In the hands of the
caring and generous, it engenders philanthropy. But it doesn’t simply
magnify who we are: it also amplifies who we hope to be, fear we might
have become, or regret that we may never be. It gives form to our fantasies
and shape to our compulsions. We don’t simply earn, save and
spend money: we woo it, flirt with it, crave it and scorn it, punish and
reward ourselves with it.
We invest money with a totemic power it doesn’t truly possess and
then live our lives under the thumb of that dictatorial rule. Like the
master of a runaway band of mad marionettes, money runs us in circles
and beckons us down dead-end paths, inflates our dreams and dashes
our hopes—and all the while it is we ourselves who hold the strings that
make the puppets move!
It is not money but the love of money that Saint Paul identified as
the root of evil. It is not wealth and possessions or even the chase after
these that creates problems in our lives: it is when we lose ourselves in
the chase. And when do we lose ourselves? When we imbue money
with meaning it doesn’t really have, and then keep that meaning a secret
even from ourselves—thus holding ourselves hostage to our own money
story without even realizing we were the ones who made it up it in the
first place.
For three decades—two as a psychoanalyst, one as an executive
coach—much of my work has been focused on exploring the hidden
side of money and helping people successfully change their money stories.
Whether top CEOs and the ultra-rich or the average middle-class
family, the clients I’ve helped over the years have all shared one thing
in common: their problems with money are not about the money.
They’re about the story they try to tell with it.
What follows is a journey to understand the architecture of your
money story: how you use money to shape the world around you, and
how it shapes you back.
One thing we’ll discover is that the brain and mind are not always in
agreement. While one part of us says, “We should be planning for retirement,”
another says, “Hey, let’s have that second cognac and order the
plasma TV!” Each part struggles over the same dollar, and unless we
understand the secret language of money, the results can be disastrous.
In these pages we’ll explore both the brain and the mind, looking
through the lens of leading-edge scientific research from such fields as
psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics, along with case
studies from my thirty years in the trenches of psychoanalysis and executive
coaching. We will apply these insights to help you strategically
rewire your brain, reprogram your mind and reshape your habits, so that
you can begin using money to say what you want it to say, and create
the life you want to be living.
The Secret Language of Money is not really about your income,
expenses, assets and investments, although it will change how you view
and manage all of these. It is about your relationship with money and
how it affects everything in your life, including your financial success.
It is an unblinking examination of the running dialogue inside your
head about money—about how much you think you’re worth, and how
much you feel you deserve; about what you believe your money says
about you, and how much of it is enough. This book is a rare glimpse
into the secret conversation you hold with yourself about the meaning
of money in your life—and therefore, about your life itself.
Money does talk—but what is it really saying? Or more accurately,
what are you saying through money? This book is about finding the
answer to that question.

Table of Contents

Introduction v
Part I
Your Money Story
one Money Talks—But What Is It Saying? 3
two What Money Means 15
three The Cost of Money 37
four Your Life Is a Story 51
five Your Money Story 63
Part II
Plot Twists
six Your Brain on Money 83
seven Bubbles and Bubble Baths 103
eight Spend, Baby, Spend! 129
nine Into Thin Air: The Secret Language of Debt 147
ten Incredible Deals and Unbelievable Opportunities:
The Secret Language of Scams 169
Part III
Writing a New Money Story
eleven How Much Is Enough? 195
twelve The Heart of the Matter 211
thirteen Writing a New Money Story 229
fourteen Living a New Money Story 253
Index 273

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The material in this eBook also appears in the print version of this title: ISBN: 978-0-07-162339-1,
MHID: 0-07-162339-6.