Many people don’t realize that when it comes to money matters we might be speaking a different language. Heck, sometimes we are speaking a dialect for that matter! Just as in life, there are verbal and non-verbal components to the money language we speak. We often feel alienated and misunderstood, and these differences aggravate when we have a partner who speak a different money language than us. I have noticed that having a common language might not mean success all the time either when the language spoken is part of the “money slang”. However, understanding our money language and that one of our partner opens doors to devise a successful plan to win with money.
Language is a matter of cultivating a means of communication. It is often like a filter that let us know what is relevant or not to the other person that we are speaking to. The difficulty with this is that more often than not we are not clear on what our money language is. When it relates to money matters most of us don’t have a clue how to “speak well”. This is no fault of our own as our society treats money like taboo and we are more likely to learn about our friend’s sex life than about how much money they made last year. There’s also a non-verbal component of our money language. This one is greatly influenced by peers and our desire to keep up with the Joneses. This part of non-verbal communication is determined by our actions on where we decide to spend the money that we have and sometimes the money that we don’t have.
We learn by association, even when others are not trying to teach us. We get tidbits of our money language from the relationship our parents had with money. We also learn from our teachers in schools, from our peers, TV, the press, the internet and unfortunately from hearsay. Unless one seeks for more information, the general knowledge of our money language will extend to currency and basic math if we are lucky.
I have compiled a list of 6 of the main money languages to help you identify your own. Please note that you might identify yourself, or your significant other, in one or more of these. Your money language can be one or a combination of the following:
1. Elementary – Those who speak elementary are a big majority of the population. This language often has an understanding of currency and basic math (addition and subtraction), however they have not been instructed to understand how accounts works, how to spend or save. When you speak elementary, you are wary of financial words; usually feeling inadequate or left out if other people are talking about finances. Pros: Opportunity for Growth
2. Nerd – When you speak nerd you are analytic. You probably are well structured in your accounts. The balance of your portfolio in your language is a gauge equivalent to your winnings and success. You have a good handle of your money and keep tabs of where you spend, save and invest. The person that speak this language often uses software or ledgers to keep their accounts organized. Nerds are usually anal retentive and like to push their language to non-nerd speakers. Pros: Organized and analytic
3. Free Spirit – When you speak free spirit, you are friendly, loving and most likely driven by a sense of contribution. Speaking free spirits are usually poor money managers. The free spirit language often is guided by “intuition” and feeling and is impulsive. Most likely you are disconnected from money matters, as an example not knowing your debt or savings balances. Pros: Charitable, loving
4. Spender – Although a speaking spender might or might not know how much money is available to spend, they still find a way to acquire what they want now. For this language, there’s no waiting. This language is fluent on instant gratification no matter the consequences. Spenders are shopaholics. Spenders are big in non-verbal actions as their high comes from acquiring material goods and flaunting. For spenders money means the ability to relate to “certain” groups or strata of people. Their highs are brief and soon enough they find themselves shopping for their next hit. Pros: Seekers of value and satisfaction
5. Accumulator – Speaking Accumulators are Nerds on steroids. Not only they possess the qualities of the nerds but they also lack the ability to spend their money for themselves and for others. People who are fluent accumulators lack trust of financial institutions and usually hoard large amounts of money where they can get their hands to them quickly. Not spending, even in necessities, becomes the goal and it gives them a sense of security and satisfaction. Pros: Innate Savers
6. Denier – Speaking deniers are those who don’t want to talk or think about money as well as those who believe that money is bad. Usually those fluent in denier have the mentality that the little man can get ahead, that those damn 1% people are exploiting the world and we can’t do anything about it. Pros: Challenge the Status Quo
The fact that we can speak a different money language is usually what makes our financial interpersonal relationships difficult. As I said before, even when speaking the same language, if for example, your partner and you are both deniers, there’s little hope “to get ahead”. Or if you’re both nerds, then the overwhelming task to be planners and have everything organized before proceeding can cause “financial paralysis”. The goal is at least to become bilingual in our money language. All languages have their pros and that’s where we should concentrate on.
Now let’s talk about “money slang”. Often, couples believe that because they are committed, their partner is agreement with them in their money language, however communication between the partners has never been established. As an example we can have the 20 year marriage in which the man has a career and the lady works at home. He believes that since he “earns” the money, he can make all the household financial decisions, while the wife feels that her needs are not met since she doesn’t feel like an equal partner. What is missing here is a translator that can get them on the same page by making them both understand their money language. This couple has to sort out their “money slang” and become bilingual in each other’s language in order to have a successful money language. Another “money slang” some people run into is the ignoring of their actual financial situation. They believe that somehow by not looking into their reality things will “work out”. This attitude creates a tension and stressful situation when it comes to money and often triggers insecurities and health issues. To these individuals money becomes a mystery, complicated. They often don’t feel adequate enough to handle their own finances and are drowned in debt and obligations. These people are in need of guidance, a teacher that will help them sort out what money is and help demystify their situation.
There are important strengths and weaknesses when it comes to money languages. My challenge to you is to start the money conversation in your life. If you are married or in a relationship, start communicating with your partner about what things are important to you when it comes to money. Inquire and listen to their concerns and fears and be open to learn their language. If you are single, find an accountability partner that can help you identify what your pros and cons are in your life with regards to your money language and beliefs.
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Feel free to book a 90-minute session in person or by phone to talk about your money language and strategies to speak a better financial language!