Barbara Hause, MBA Financial Counselor serves clients nationwide by phone and in person from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Barbara Hause, MBA

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The Story of Joe and What It Can Mean for You


If you find you are consistently making poor money decisions, and, what is more telling, repeating your negative behavior, the real answer to your money problems may have less to do with your money than with the attitudes you inherited or learned at home regarding its use and management.

The following story might give you some insight into how inherited attitudes regarding money have a greater impact than you might suppose on a person’s effective money management.

This is a story of Joe who is living beyond his means to keep up a “social image”. Joe purchased a home in an upscale community and drives the latest model of an imported car. What is not obvious about Joe is he is on the verge of bankruptcy. He has taken advantage of every credit card offer that has come his way. Since he always pays his cards on time the banks keep increasing his credit limits. Joe was grateful for the credit relief until things started to crash in on him.

Joe’s high commission job suffered with the poor economy. Consequently, Joe stopped earning the high commissions he was used to earning in the past. In order to pay his bills on time Joe shuffled balances among his numerous credit cards. He regularly paid a late fee on his mortgage payment because he never seemed to have enough money in his account when the mortgage is due. Even though Joe’s debt continued to grow, he held on to a grandiose belief his next big commission was imminent.

The consequences of Joe’s situation were personally and financially devastating. He felt extremely stressed and was too embarrassed talk to any one about his situation. How did Joe get into this tough financial bind? He is an intelligent guy and he studied finance in school.

There is more to the story which can be traced back to Joe’s childhood. He grew up with six siblings and parents who lived on a tight budget. Joe felt deprived as a child since he had to wear hand-me-down clothes and could not participate in many of the camps and activities his friends where involved in. He envied them.

When Joe was a teenager his parents required him to work and contribute to the family’s household expenses. A local business owner recognized Joe’s ability and his desire to earn. He taught Joe how to sell. Joe was successful and eventually maintained a high level of earnings.

The deprivation Joe had experience in his childhood affected how he managed his money as an adult. He could not tolerate his feelings of deprivation. He did not have the patience to wait for income. Joe had big financial goals and wanted everything now. His generosity with his family had them dependent on his financial support. It was too difficult for him to swallow his pride and say no. When the slow economy started to affect the timing and amount of his commissions, Joe’s solution was to borrow the money to maintain his lifestyle. He had good intentions of paying off his debt with anticipated earnings. Instead, he was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Joe is an example of how past experiences can have a negative effect on successful money management later in life. Of course, there are many reasons why people have money troubles in their lives; but when practical advice and basic how-to’s to fix money problems aren’t working for you, an examination of your past may be helpful to determine what keeps you from managing your money more successfully.

While no one is denying that we are all subject to external forces and circumstances beyond our control, the important thing is to understand that many “money problems” are really controllable behavior problems. Our negative money habits and attitudes can emotionally interfere with having a reasonable approach to managing our finances. And, since for most of us changing ourselves is easier than changing the world, it is important that we take those first steps by analyzing our personal history with money in order to improve our relationship with money.

At a minimum self-analysis is useful and necessary, but most of us find that the assistance of a qualified financial counselor can greatly enhance and speed up the process of helping us understand and gain control over our negative money habits. Since negative money habits cost us money everyday, counseling almost always pays off – this is a case where time literally IS money. If you want to break the cycle of negative money habits in your life, seek out a qualified financial counselor today.