Woman counting coins
From Pivot Magazine

The heads and tales of money: figuring out your money story

Doretta Thompson, CPA Canada’s financial literacy leader, looks at how our personal money stories can drive our financial decisions

Woman counting coinsEven though our personal money story is to some extent pre-written, we can change it (Getty Images/Deepak Sethi)

Money is about so much more than money. It’s a belief, a relationship, a brand, a value, a mindset. Money is a story we tell ourselves. We start telling it the first time we experience it—long before we understand it—and we keep telling it our whole lives. Money stories are personal and individual—shaped by all the ways we interact with it, think about it, feel about it, and believe it to be.

These individual stories don’t even start with us. They’re intergenerational, rooted in the scarcity or affluence in which we grew up, in the experiences, beliefs and attitudes of our parents and their parents and their parents. The stories we tell ourselves about money and our relationship with it are shaped by the ways our parents talked about money, shared, or didn’t share money decisions, made choices, modeled behaviour.

This is important because the stories we tell ourselves about money drive our financial decisions. They shape our understanding of how “good” or “bad” we are with money, our concept of value, and what we understand to be a “want” vs a “need.”

But here’s the thing. Even though our personal money story is to some extent pre-written, we can change it. We can write our own version by consciously exploring and challenging our assumptions. We can advance our story to make it more thoughtful, deliberate and unique—and ultimately to learn more about ourselves.

What is your money story?


Check out CPA Canada’s extensive financial literacy resources and learn how to how to stay out of debt and avoid bankruptcy.