Money, Finances, Small Business, Saving, Accounting, Self-Employed, Bookkeeping, EntrepreneurYou’ve got emotions, I’ve got emotions, we’ve all got EMO-TIONS…especially around money!

Yet, while we’re really good at FEELING all the things around money, we’re not quite sure where these thoughts, limiting beliefs, and impulses come from.  That can be hard when you’re trying to break a pattern with money and heal your relationship with it. In order to heal, we have to go back to the ROOTS.

This week on the Andi Smiles Show we’re talking about money shame, where money shame comes from, and (most importantly) how to map the roots of YOUR money shame.

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What is money shame?  (03:07)

Here’s my definition of money shame. It’s our negative feelings toward money. Those feelings get rolled up in our actions or inactions, our limiting beliefs, and our resistance to money. It’s negative patterns in our daily routine that feel gross and uncomfortable when it comes to money from a business and personal perspective.

It’s not called money shame because your actions or behaviors are shameful. It’s not called money shame because you should be embarrassed of the way that you’re acting around money. It’s called money shame because we’re often too ashamed of the status of our money to talk about it.

That’s really where this term money shame is coming from. We, especially as entrepreneurs and business owners, don’t talk about what’s tough with money. What we talk about is how we make money, how we’re going to make money, and how many clients we need to make money.

We talk a lot about acquiring money. Maybe we talk a little bit about managing money, but we never talk about the hard parts of owning a business. We often feel ashamed if we have a lot of money. We feel ashamed if we don’t have a lot of money. Because of this, I believe it’s important to bring our money shame to the surface because it’s about owning your actions and then acknowledging where they came from.


That’s the first step to healing your money shame.

In a recent post,  I talked about the ways that money shame impacts your business. I discussed the ways that it impacts your business and how it shows up, but you have to own it. You have to acknowledge that it’s showing up in your business. Once you acknowledge it, you can own it, and then you can work on overcoming it.

Understanding the origins of our limiting beliefs around money is key to healing. You get your power back. It’s really important to acknowledge our limiting beliefs around money and our actions.

We often tell ourselves, this is the way I am. I am a spender, I am a hoarder, I am a hardworker.

We think about these as core parts of our personality when they’ve really been developed. It’s actually coming from somewhere external to you and you have the power to shift and change your habits.

I’ve worked with people for over nine years, and I can tell you how to do your bookkeeping one-on-one every day for the next year. If you don’t deal with the emotional side of money, you’re still not going to make significant changes.

If you want to start taking control of your business finances, you have to deal with the emotional side first.

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Where does money shame come from? (06:27)

Let’s talk about the roots of money shame so that you can better understand how to take control of it. There are several places in which money shame originates in our lives:

Childhood Experiences

Your childhood experiences can be both direct and indirect with money. Direct experiences are something that you’ve personally dealt with while indirect experiences are money situations that you witnessed somebody else going through. You can still be heavily impacted by those indirect experiences.

Examples of direct money experiences from your childhood are an allowance, a part-time job, or scouting your neighborhood for money. I used to wash all the cars in the neighborhood so I could earn cash for candy! That experience taught me that I had to work in order to earn money. In other words- money requires hard work. That’s a belief that I’ve been working on for years to change.

You may not even realize that you witnessed money interactions with others, but it happens, even with strangers. You may have noticed a return happen at the department store while you were waiting in line. These experiences aren’t necessarily positive or negative, they’re simply areas for you to explore.


Our Family’s Relationship with Money

This is also known as money modeling because we tend to model our money behavior after how our parents or caregivers manage money. How does your family interact with money? How did they spend money? How did they save money?

What were your family’s values around money? How did your siblings relate to money? And finally, how did your extended family relate to money? The answer to those questions will shape how you experienced money as an adult.


Historical and Ancestral Relationships

There’s also a generational component to money. These are often stories that you’ve been told about your family’s history with money. Some examples could be generational trauma around money. That’s poverty, immigration, exploitation, slavery, and loss. Those are things that can have a big effect on how you look at money.

There’s also generational triumph around money like family wealth, stories of gain, acquisition, or rags to riches stories. Maybe your great, great, great grandfather built his business from the ground up. These are stories about money that you’re family uses to define themselves within the relationship to money.



This is an interesting one because I don’t typically hear people talk about friendships when they’re talking about limiting beliefs with money shame.

Usually, with friendships, you get the inside scoop on how your friend feels about money, and that can really shift your own viewpoint about money. How do your friends and their peers interact with money together? How do your friends interact with money around you?


Cultural and Gender Messages

Cultural messages are external messages that come from society. Same thing goes for gender messages. Society tells us that we should feel a certain way toward money because of what’s typical of the culture, and what’s typical for each gender to experience.

Who has power and who doesn’t? Who has an easier time with money and who struggles?


Race Messages

Race plays an important role in cultural messages as well. Are you part of a group who has historically been denied money and access to equity building resources, like property ownership? Or are you part of a group who has historically been given more access than others?  What are the historic messages around money and your race and what are the current messages?

For example, one message about people with different documentation statuses that we often hear is that immigrants come to the US to steal our jobs. That social conditioning teaches us that immigrants steal money from the rest of us and, as an immigrant, this message may impact the way you relate to money and wealth. 


Adult Experiences

Just like childhood experiences, adult experiences with money can be direct and indirect. It can be things that have happened to you as an adult. It can be situations that you’ve witnessed. It’s important to acknowledge the difference between childhood experiences and adult experiences because when you’re a child, you’re absorbing things with a different lens than when you’re an adult.

Some examples include getting your first job, getting your first credit card, and paying off debts like student loans or your first car. It could also be taking on a huge financial responsibility like a mortgage. Everyone is going to have a different adult experience with money.

When I bought my car, it was brand new off the lot and I never thought I would own something that expensive. After we purchased the car, I felt a lot of shame about my upward class mobility (and changing class identity) and often felt compelled to explain to people that the capital for the car had come from my partner. I was ashamed to have something that nice because I always identified as being someone who struggled with money and worked hard for the little I had. The car triggered a lot of feelings about worthiness and being undeserving of money. 

Other adult experiences are what we’re told about money. We’re also told by society how much we’re supposed to earn at a certain age, or after we earn a degree. People tell us how to act responsibly with money. People have different expectations.


What to Do Next (27:10)

The first step is identifying how money shame shows up in your business. The worksheet that comes with this blog post walks you through how to explore that and you can also check out this blog post about the different ways money shame shows up in your business.

Then for 20 minutes out of your day to write down every experience you remember about money. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, positive or negative. Go where your mind wants you to go, even if it seems completely unrelated to money.

For example, I wrote down how one time I earned straight As in school, and I asked my mom if I could get ice cream for a reward. I had a friend who did this with her mother. My mom said no because I was supposed to get As, regardless of a possible reward.

This affected me later on because I was undercharging for my services. It made me feel like I had to work extra hard and shouldn’t expect a reward or compensation. Once you understand where your money experiences come from, it’s a lot easier to break the pattern.

Next, I want you to look at your worksheet and your journal and start making connections. I’ve provided a worksheet here as well, to help you get started.

Both of these steps are going to help you recognize your challenges with money and why you’re experiencing money shame. Once you have that figured out, you can work on overcoming that shame!


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