Rewriting Your Money Scripts with Daniel Kopp: Deep Money Stories That Drive You to Spend, Save, Fail, & Succeed | Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 82

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Daniel Kopp, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, joins Spencer and Jamie on the Military Money Manual Podcast to talk about understanding your money story. Daniel introduces the 4 money scripts, which are often learned in childhood, partially true, passed down from generation to generation, and can be completely unconscious.

  • Money status – is your self worth tied to your net worth?
  • Money vigilance – do you save too much?
  • Money worship – prevelant in the FIRE community, the idea that wealth is freedom and if you just had a bit more money, you would be happy.
  • Money avoidance – do you believe money is the root of all evil?

We talk about combining money stories with a spouse and many other topics.

You can find your own Money Scripts in the test on Brad Klontz website.

Daniel Kopp is an Air Force veteran, fee only and fiduciary CFP, a writer, public speaker, and an entrepreneur. Daniel hosts the Military to Financial Planner Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Daniel founded the firm Wise Stewardship Financial Planning, which provides fiduciary financial advice with a special focus on young widows and widowers, as well as service members and their families. Daniel brings a unique and compassionate approach to helping those going through the worst possible life events.

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #82 Links

Outline of Episode:

  • Daniel’s background in the military and as a Certified Financial Planner
  • Concept of a money story
  • Money scripts
  • Book recommendations 
  • Working through finances as a couple

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #82 Transcript

[00:00:00] Daniel: So the four main money scripts they found are money status, money vigilance, money worship, and money avoidance. And we can talk some more about them. And let me just state upfront, these are not conditions. They're not good or bad, they just are. And one of the first steps is just awareness. 

[00:00:40] Spencer: Welcome to another episode of the Military Money Manual podcast. I'm your co-host, Spencer. Joined today by my co-host, Jamie.

Today. We also have a special guest on the show who's a financial planner who focuses specifically on widows, widowers, and military families. Daniel Kopp is an old friend of the Military Money Manual. He's an Air Force veteran, fee-only, and fiduciary-certified financial planner, writer, public speaker, and entrepreneur.

Daniel also hosts the Military to Financial Planner podcast, which you can find on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Daniel founded the firm Wise Stewardship Financial Planning, which provides fiduciary financial advice with a special focus on young widows and widowers, as well as service members and their families.

Daniel brings a unique and compassionate approach to helping those going through the worst possible life events. Daniel, welcome to the show.

[00:01:29] Daniel: It's great to be here with both of you as a longtime listener. It's exciting to come and share with your audience and hopefully be a source of value to them like so many other guests have been.

[00:01:39] Spencer: I was looking through my old emails and I actually found the first email that you and I exchanged. You emailed me, I think this was back in 2016, and you were asking me for advice on starting a military financial blog, and I have a quote here, “I've been considering blogging about personal finance issues for military members to help me gain a greater familiarity and experience in writing about them, and also to educate my peers on issues and topics we're all facing.”

So that was in 2016, seven years ago. Did you ever start that blog?

[00:02:10] Daniel: I did, yes. It didn't amount to too much. It was more of an experiment, didn't certainly go as much content as you have put out over the years, but it helped me gain some confidence in understanding web development and marketing.

And then ultimately through the community that you and I have both connected with Jamie as well, FinCon, and the group of military financial bloggers. It provided me with a lot of value as far as entrepreneurship, things that you've discussed on this podcast. 

So yes, and it led ultimately to my journey to becoming a real financial planner, which I'm sure we'll talk about as well.

[00:02:41] Spencer: Yeah. Why don't we start with that? So why don't you give us a little bit of your background in the military and then eventually how you became a certified financial planner, CFP?

[00:02:50] Daniel: Yeah, so I always was interested in money, but I didn't know that there was a career, at least certainly what I do now. 

All right. So I majored in economics at Purdue on a four-year ROTC scholarship. So it's funny listening to Eric's podcast with you. Yeah. And all of you guys focusing on this kind of nerd, like quant kind of stuff. So I always enjoyed the numbers side of it, and my grandfather had an old stockbroker, so I knew what that was.

I wasn't interested in that. I almost got sucked into an internship one summer in college where I was going to be asked to “give me a hundred names of your friends and family to go sell insurance” by a company that shall remain nameless, fortunately, escaped that by chance more than anything.

So I always loved this money thing. I'm like I'll just help. So I remember counseling some people in my Air Battle Manager class, so I went into the Air Force as an Air Battle Manager, like how to set up a Roth IRA and start getting invested and leveraging the TSP and avoiding that 18% interest loan on a first car.

All that kind of stuff. Yeah. And I just started doing peer-to-peer. Ultimately, I got connected with the Airmen and Family Readiness Center going through my service. I started doing volunteer financial counseling through them. Also, the VITA program, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and I just realized I loved working with people and money, so that led me on a long journey.

Ultimately, I found my way to the XY planning network and certified financial planner curriculum, so I started using that as training a springboard, but still thought this is going to be a long time out. Fast forward, you can read more of my personal story on my website, but my wife, Sarah, at the time, was having some pretty serious health issues, and an active duty career for the long term just wasn't going to cut it, so I made plans to get out. 

Ultimately, she passed away in 2017 and accelerated the journey. I had already scheduled to get out in 2018. After almost nine years of service, I ended up still going through with that and then taking time to rest, grieve, heal, and plan for what's next.

That ultimately led to the birth of Wise Stewardship Financial Planning. So it's kind of a long circuitous journey, leaving out some of it there. But I'm privileged to take what I've learned personally and professionally and help people in very similar life circumstances with money that, as you have alluded to on this show so many times before.

And we'll talk more about that here in a minute. Money is not really about dollars and cents. It's about the hopes, the fears, and the dreams that we attach to them. And that's really what I love about this business, not just the technical side.

[00:05:14] Jamie: I love that you blend the math and the nerd spreadsheet kind of stuff with the personality that is just so attractive and warm and understanding.

And I think empathetic is the word Spencer used earlier, so I can imagine how good you must be to work with for military families. And so do you work with traditional military families and spouses, not just widows and widowers, right?

[00:05:37] Daniel: I do, yeah. In fact, over 65-70% of my practice right now are military clients in some form or fashion.

Most of them are probably dual military officers because that's where that level of complexity and people just need that extra level of resource and support. I work with a lot of people on a path to financial independence and just help them delegate or offload some of that complexity. 

So we're going to talk more about that in the future episode about estate planning.

But when we talk about this idea of money and dollars and cents, I'm really excited to share about that because that's all about half of what I work with clients. It's that thinking partner. Even the word financial therapist, which I'm sure we'll dive into. It all blends together. 

[00:06:21] Spencer: Since you opened up the can of worms with financial therapists, let's talk about the concept of a money story.

I hadn't heard this expression before you introduced it, so why don't you introduce our listeners to the concept of a money story?

[00:06:34] Daniel: Yeah, a money story, that might sound foreign to many of the listeners here. It’s just all of your collective experiences with money over the course of your life, many, probably most of them, written almost into your unconscious mind.

Many of them caught, not necessarily taught, things that you picked up certainly as a young child, even before you could understand the concept of what it was. So a lot of that applies to your family of origin. What was that like? How did your parents treat money? What was your socioeconomic status?

What's your natural personality? All these things blend together to create our money story and each one of them, like our lives, are individual and unique. The key that I love working with people is just helping to start to gain an awareness of them. That's the first step, right? And understanding how it's driving some of your behavior so then you can be in control of it rather than it sometimes being in control of you.

[00:07:33] Spencer: So what kind of questions do you ask initially to start delving into understanding someone's money story?

[00:07:40] Daniel: Yeah. So this gets the idea of what you've talked about on the podcast before of values and goals and aligning money with them, right? Money is just that tool we reference earlier. So one of the best questions that I would like to start with sometimes with even potential clients, not necessarily, it's tell me about your earliest memory or memories with money.

And just start there. And that starts to unpeel the onion of, Was money scarce? Was it a source of conflict? Was it something that made you feel inferior to your peers? A lot of the things that you couldn't even put into words, maybe today even, but certainly as a child like your worldview is being shaped by the air that we breathe, the culture that we live in, where money, that medium of exchange, a unit of account, all those technical stuff changes and impacts how you saw the world, how you were raised in it.

[00:08:33] Jamie: Do you get a lot of clients, especially maybe I'm thinking couples who have never talked about that before and so you start to unpeel layers of a source of conflict that they've never revealed or discussed with each other?

[00:08:47] Daniel: Maybe they don't come seeking that or at least consciously recognize it. But once it's brought up, it's oh, yeah, that's something that we have talked about or struggled with.

I've lived in my own life. Sarah and I had some challenges. I'm now remarried. Anne and I have had some of our own challenges, so that gets back to the idea of what is financial therapy. So I'm not a true therapist in the sense I do not diagnose. Yeah. I do not prescribe, I do not treat, but instead, so I got my master's in Kansas State in this.

But basically, it's borrowing from the world of mental health, these interventions, these techniques, these therapies that we have known that have worked really well from years or decades worth of mental health application, and we're just applying them in the realm of the finances. The reason why we figured out that.

We need to do this. And this is a relatively young profession, less than 10, or 15 years old in some sense. So financial therapy is involved because therapists didn't talk about money, and for a long time, financial professionals didn't talk about emotions, right? So this is just blending the two together. So all I'm doing is using some techniques that we know work for mental health and just applying them to the realm of money.

[00:09:53] Spencer: Do you ever find. Healthy money stories. I find that when I talk to a lot of people, it's very rare that they were ever raised with, I don't want to say like the perfect approach to money where hey, it's a tool and it needs to align with your values. Like most people I talk to, and maybe this is just the circles I run in when they were growing up, it was very much a scarcity mindset, or it was the complete opposite and it was, Hey, money's just there to be burned. Don't save any of it. 

And there's never this like middle ground of, no. It's a tool. It can align with your values. You should save some so that eventually you know your money can be working for you. 

Do you ever find that healthy money story, or do most people that you talk to, are they at some end of the extreme where they either have a scarcity mindset or they just have a they don't know what to do with their money mindset?

[00:10:45] Daniel: This is not a representative sample because the people who reach out to me often have recognized a need for some level of intervention, financial planning, financial therapy, or otherwise. So I'll fall back on what some of the data talks about and research in the realm of financial therapy.

Which is, you're correct. I would say the majority of Americans probably have some very challenging money stories that impact their current view, right? We can look at things like statistics that tell us about the amount of savings that people have, people's credit scores, and their ability to meet financial goals.

Progress towards retirement. These national metrics tell a story that reveals if we dig a little deeper that there's something else going on. It's not just math or financial literacy. Even research has shown that's helpful, necessary but not sufficient, especially when you're working with so many people.

So yes, I see people with healthy money behaviors often become, those are the kind of people who need help from a financial planner or financial advisor.

[00:11:45] Spencer: So what are some of the general trends with money stories? Are there any different buckets that people fall into?

[00:11:53] Daniel: Yeah. So going back to some of the origins of this, doctor Brad and Ted Klontz, a father-son team, started doing their own research looking at their own money story.

They were both coming in from the world of mental health psychology and things like that, and they started to explore this a while back, early two thousands timeframe, and they started what ultimately became and developed the Klontz Money Script Inventory Revise, or the KMSIR. I'll give you a link that you can put in your show notes.

Something about a quiz that people can take. But they used a lot of data, a lot of research to determine that there were four main money scripts and just like a script here is in the sense like a play. It's something that's helping to drive the narrative. Now, imagine you walked into, say, a classic Shakespeare play like Macbeth, and they were reading the script for the modern-day play Hamilton, you would be very confused, right? 

It would look very strange to see one setting and another script. So in the same way when our money script clashes with our present, past, or future relationship with money in some ways as we get some of these challenges. 

So the four main money scripts they found are money status, money vigilance, money worship, and money avoidance.

And we can talk some more about them. And let me just state upfront, these are not conditions. They're not good or bad, they just are. And one of the first steps is just awareness. Now knowing a little bit about this podcast audience, I am betting that the majority of these listeners probably lean towards Money Vigilance, and we'll explain why here in just a minute there. But I'll pause and let you just talk about like, when you hear that, what does that come to you? What do you reflect on hearing that beginning approach or those four types?

[00:13:42] Spencer: I think for me personally, the idea of, not knowing too much about the scripts, Money vigilance probably is a category that I might fall into. And then money worship sounds like something I would want, would want to avoid. And then the money avoidance category sounds like what a lot of people out there are doing where they just stick their heads in the sand and just try to ignore it.

And then eventually, they wake up 10 or 20 years from now and they're like, “Oh, I've made over a million dollars in my military career and I have $10,000 in my checking account. Where did all that money go?” 

[00:14:20] Daniel: Not bad. Jamie, what about you?

[00:14:23] Jamie: Okay. I'm nervous because I feel like this is a test, but I think that I would say my story,

[00:14:27] Daniel: There are no right or wrong answers.

[00:14:29] Jamie: He says that. My story started with more of money avoidance of a source of conflict from my family of origin and one parent and one extreme, and another parent and another in the other extreme, and maybe now like a money status of I want the status of. Having a comfortable car, comfortable house vacations, and the feeling of financial independence where I don't have to work anymore.

So that's the one that kind of stuck out to me the most.

[00:14:55] Daniel: Yeah. So let's break those down. And again, just these are often partial truths, sometimes even passed down from generation to generation, typically unconscious. We don't actively know about them unless we dig a little deeper. Now, as research has gone over the years, they’ve found very strong associations with some of these related things like income, net worth debt, financial behavior, and other aspects of wellness, financial wellness, and financial health. 

So let's talk about money status first, right? So money status tends to link their self-worth with their net worth. So these people often prioritize these outward displays of wealth. You can think of this as basically keeping up with the Joneses. Okay, so overspending is often a common risk factor seen here, and oftentimes these people may not always believe that this idea of a karma virtuous life, that they'll do good and they look good. The universe will take care of their financial needs over time.

Historically, the people who have scored highest in this often grow up in lower socioeconomic environments where they saw the people with social status had some external outward markers of their wealth. So cars, jewelry, houses, external things, not the hidden factors of wealth, like your bank account balance, your retirement account.

Those things other people don't see. So that's a broad overview. And so money status, the challenge often working with people is learning how to manage financially. So when you talk about things like keeping your expenses lower and investing the difference, if you have a tendency towards money status, that might be one of your biggest challenges in this area.

[00:16:38] Spencer: So like Instagram rich versus actual rich.

[00:16:42] Daniel: Yes. Yeah.

[00:16:46] Jamie: I'll wait on my follow-up until we get through the other ones. Cause I think it'll apply to maybe all the other ones.

[00:16:50] Daniel: Okay. So let's talk about money worship. So this is oftentimes people who believe that money or a net worth figure is a key to happiness.

So in other words, once we achieve this milestone, I will be at rest or that will be enough. And the field solution to their problems is just to acquire more money until they get there. Of course, as you have referenced on this podcast the goalpost can move, right? Yeah. This challenge of contentment of enoughness is a spiritual one in many cases, right?

Not just financial. So they find that this hamster wheel, this mimetic desire, this repeating over and over, can create this cycle and oftentimes sometimes manic behavior even. So spend a lot, oh, not spend at all, right? And trying to balance these challenges. I see Spencer over here, like covering his face.

So when you are working with people with money worship, again, it's like tying external markers that have no financial value like quality time spent with people you love, right? And how do you put a score to that may be reflected on a goals sheet or things like that? And understanding that finances, that tool, they're a tool that supports other things.

Now, I know I have a lot of fire listeners here, so my experience working with fire people and as somebody who used to be really hardcore on that train myself once upon a time, this money script. Money worship can be a challenge wrapped up in this pursuit, a good one, but that can sometimes get confused, right with where the end goal, where the finish line is.

The goal becomes in pursuit of itself rather than the service of another.

[00:18:31] Jamie: Wow, that's powerful. We've all experienced to some extent, whether it's, if I have no more debt, I'll be happy. If I have $10,000 saved, I'll be happy with $50,000, $100,000, $500,000 saved, and go on. And none of those markers equal happiness, like you said.

But we all think it will to some extent. So maybe all of us have a little bit of money worship piece inside of you is that, do we all have a little bit of each of the four?

[00:18:55] Daniel: Yeah. So the way this works when it's ultimately scored is you'll have a continuum so you could be really heavily towards one and not towards the others, or a little bit towards all of them.

They're somewhat independent of each other in that way.

[00:20:38] Spencer: Okay, so you want to talk about money avoidance next.

[00:20:48] Daniel: Before I do, yes. I want to talk about just one other thing about money worship here is the idea that if you have a tendency towards this goal, right? Recognizing that in yourself can be very difficult. This is where a thinking partner and a spouse, we're going to talk about that just a second, right?

So when your spouse comes along, who is a very different money script than yours, don't be surprised when this suddenly becomes the first time that you might have to appreciate or approach that. 

So let's talk about money avoidance right now. It's typically a moral or conscious belief that they do not deserve money.

Or related to that, that people who are rich, who are wealthy, or however they define that are greedy and corrupt, and they got that way because of their greed and corruption. So oftentimes there's this idea that there's a virtuous cycle in living with less. Now, money avoiders can often unintentionally sabotage their financial success, giving away unconsciously, not negotiating for the raise, and sabotaging their ability to accumulate and build by spending or giving.

But historically, many times, people with money avoidance have actually on the associate demographic data actually have more money. So think of this as things like. Inheritance or wealth that's passed down. Many times, I also see it in my work with widows, right? This is sometimes after the 9/11 loss as this blood guilt, right?

So you see receive financial benefits like life insurance. But you don't want it because you want your spouse back instead. And it creates this moral quandary within you that yes, the money is there to help provide for your new, unfortunate, tragic financial circumstances, but yet you don't want it. And so this is one of the ones that, in my work with widows I deal with regularly of helping them separate grief from the finances and anxiety and understanding where one is coming from versus the other.

[00:22:40] Spencer: Wow, that's powerful. It also reminds me of an idea from Naval Ravikant where he says, if you don't actually want to be wealthy, it will allude you. And I think that gets back to the money avoidance script where there, there are people that have this idea that, oh, the rich just got there because they stole, or they did something immoral to become that wealthy and they don't see the other side of it, where a lot of times most people become wealthy because they help other people. And that's just the way our system is set up, where if you help a lot of people, those people pay you and then you become wealthy.

And that's, I would say the vast majority of people who have acquired wealth in the United States through a capitalist system is not because they exploited people, it's because they delivered value to society, and society rewarded them.

[00:23:30] Daniel: It's interesting when you say that too because you can start to see that stuff we talked about earlier.

Those family of origin, not just your parents but your grandparents and the cultural context around money profoundly shape each of these and you show up in adulthood and suddenly start making your own money. In the case of marriage or partnership or in military interaction with people who have come from very different circumstances, and you're like, that's wrong, but you can't even understand why.

So that brings us to the last one. Money vigilance. So the one I expect that, just on average people who listen to a podcast like this probably have, so money vigilant might be described as alert, watchful, concerned. I often refer to it as Smog the Dragon, right? Sitting in his mountain, watching over his pile of gold, and this idea that financial security is tied to this feeling of importance, like high importance on saving.

Not expecting to win the lottery, right? Not feeling they need to work for the money, but tend to show higher levels of financial health and make good choices. So if I were to look at somebody and all I knew about them was their kind of score on the range towards each of these, if they were low on the other ones and higher towards financial money vigilance, I would expect to see higher income, higher net worth, lower debt, less impulse spending fewer credit issues, and things like that cause it tends to correlate with the things. The dark side of this of course, good encourages savings and frugality. Being smart with spending, however, comes with the financial anxiety of I've accumulated this amount of money or resources, particularly as you approach retirement.

But now I have to spend and flipping that switch from saving to spending. If you are high in money, vigilance is. I cannot overstate this enough, can be exhausting, like an enormous hurdle, almost as big as the hurdle for those who have money worship or money status, who are spending a lot to go from spending the saving, like flipping the switch in this way.

So oftentimes these are clients who arrive at financial independence or say traditional retirement. With a very large nest egg, particularly with military pensions and social security, probably more money than they will ever spend in their lifetime. And for me, as their advisor, trying to convince them to spend or give away money while they're still alive is like pulling teeth.

You may think, oh good, I'm high on money vigilance. Okay, that may be great for you. Now while you're in your accumulation. Yay, your yours. It could become a challenge later on. So practice, like learning how to balance, and I think that's the theme here. As I mentioned, one is not good or bad or the other.

They just are. Understanding where you're at and not going to one extreme or the other is the keys to finding that middle path through all of this.

[00:26:15] Spencer: I can't wait for my dad to listen to this episode because he's right at that stage now where he's switching from the accumulation phase to the spending phase.

And if he was on the podcast, he would say it's been a challenge for him, but we're taking steps in the right direction. 

Are there any kind of questions or prompts or anything that you've used with clients to trigger that die with ero mentality where, you can't take it with you like you can leave it to your kids or to whoever you choose, but you can't take it with you into the next life?

[00:26:47] Daniel: So I wondered if that book was going to come up here on the podcast? Cause I know you mentioned it so many times before. 

Jamie, have you got that sponsorship link for it yet? I know you've talked about it. 

So I'll take one step back before I answer that question.

So one of the things I loved most about going through the financial therapy training and academics at Kansas State was the self-work that I did first, right? To understand and know myself because you can only take a client as far as you've been willing to go yourself. And two, there's the issue, which of course is prevalent in mental health.

We don't talk about so much in the financial world, transference, right? That's just the fancy thing where I project my own issues onto you, the client, right? So what I have learned how to do and continue to work on it is to get better at removing myself from this situation and asking those wonderful open wide-ranging questions where the client is allowed to paint their own value out there. So when you start with a presupposition, want them to die with zero, right? That mentality may be something the client wants to do but also recognize that they may have a different value system that is at odds with that.

So that would just posit that. But yes, to the point of money's a tool. Use it for what's important to you now, and aligning with your values again, right? Helping to draw back questions that are not related to dollars. One of my favorite sequences with clients is paint for me your perfect day and just go through a literal 24-hour day period, maybe in a workday weekend, time away kind of concept, bump out what do we do maybe on a weekly or monthly basis, monthly basis, and start to paint what that looks like, and then reverse engineer the finances to start to do that, not just in 10, 20, 30 years at financial independence, but what can we do today?

And a lot of times that involves things that might not make traditional financial sense, maybe you start spending a little bit more now and saving a little bit less, or maybe you shift your priorities around here. Especially in military life, right? Looking ahead to things like career intermission programs, separation, or retirement, like understanding these key inflection points, and what those opportunities allow.

To help broaden the context from what our good friend, Doug Nordman always calls the fog of work. How do you get beyond that? So that's my role. My role is that thinking partner, that reflecting mirror, that teases out those questions and says, oh, that's interesting. Use that word. Tell me more about that.

Oh, anything else, right? And removing as much of myself from the picture as possible.

[00:29:20] Jamie: Wow. I feel like I'm in therapy and healing already. For the listeners who are like, okay, something is intriguing me about this. In addition to the test, which we'll put in the show notes, the link to the money script test, what else?

Any good book recommendations or other resources Yes. To get them down this path of healing and acknowledging the different scripts they may have.

[00:29:41] Daniel: So the one that I often start with clients is by Dr. Brad Klontz, and it's called Mind Over Money published a while ago, I think in 2008 timeframe, and it was his first foray in a consumer-facing book on that he writes a lot for financial professionals as well, and he explains his own money story, helps walk through a lot of what we talked about here and in more depth. You also wrote a very short one a little bit before that called The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge, and it takes The classic Christmas Carol story by Charles Dickens and applies a framing that you might not otherwise expect, like Scrooge, how could he be financially wise? Reserve judgment. It's a great book. I've given it to clients even as a gift before, and those are two entry-level places that you could start with. 

If you're interested in the more technical side of this, there's the Financial Therapy Association where you could get connected with people who do this work, both on the mental health and financial side.

There's a journal of financial therapy that's open source that you can read. So those are some places I would start there.

[00:31:56] Spencer: So when you're talking to clients, and let's say that they have kids, how do you talk to them about passing down good behaviors and setting a good example so that the next generation doesn't have, maybe they'll have problems, but they won't have the same problems that the current generation has.

[00:32:37] Daniel: To my point earlier about understanding yourself first, before you can pass it on to the kids, you kind of know what got you and potentially your spouse or partner there. There's a concept called financial genograms. So I don't know if you guys remember back to elementary school and maybe you did a family tree kind of exercise.

It's a similar approach, but instead of just looking at the people's, just because they were. Related by marriage or blood or adoption or things like that. What were the financial dynamics? When I went and did this with my family, I understood the relationship between my father and his brother, my uncle so much.

It explained some of the questions that I'd had lingering for years. So you can Google financial genograms, there are some interesting articles about that. You can sketch that out and start sitting down with your partner. We referenced that earlier, right? You were probably going to approach life very differently because we all have our unique money story. Sometimes people come with very similar ones, but in my experience, more often than not, financial opposites, money, story differences, and approach in marriage, and partnerships. So when you, as those two individuals coming together can approach that, then that sets the foundation for kids. So in other words, start there and then work your way.

But I love asking clients with kids like, tell me what values you love in your children today and what kind of values do you want to see them with 10, 20, 30 years? Again, you start with that kind of thing, and money’s the tool, right? And helping reframe a lot of those decisions around scarcity.

On decisions of choice. So one of the things that parents might try with kids is instead of saying, we can't afford that, and that may very well be true, we choose not to spend our money on that, or something to that effect, right? We've made a decision, right? It's that financial locus of control that comes back into the family unit rather than say, these external circumstances, our finances control us, we can't afford it.

Now it's saying we as a family have made certain financial choices. And one of those choices is we are not choosing to spend money on X, Y, and Z.

[00:34:38] Jamie: Yeah. One of the things I've tried before with my kids was, Hey, remember we're saving up for the Disney vacation or insert whatever here and talking to them about how many thousands of dollars it costs, and so we're going to say no to this right now so that we can say yes to a Spring break trip together is something like that. Is that kind of on the right path? At least would I pass that test? 

[00:34:56] Daniel: It's always age appropriate. And if it sounds like they're at that stage of life, yes, because it's helping them connect something that's important to them, to a tangible value. Something they can grasp hold of like a vacation something.

Professional as a family with something that's slightly more intangible, like thousands of dollars. And that's all the age-appropriate stuff. The biggest thing that I can see, at least anecdotally research backs this up a little bit, is families who are just open about financial conversations, right?

Not making it a taboo subject where we don't talk about money. I think that one of the things that historically has perpetuated some of these negative financial outcomes over the generations is, treating it in a way that is not open and honest and, hey, we don't have all the answers.

We're figuring this out too. I'm not a parenting expert. I'm still a long way to go there, but the things that, at least anecdotally I've seen in clients with successful children financially, and then the research backs it up too.

[00:35:59] Jamie: Okay, Daniel, earlier you mentioned spouses and the complexities that combining finances when you first get married, you take, my wife who, when we first got married, she had a lot of credit card debt and not a lot of positive financial habits. No one really taught her. And then you had a very frugal mindset is what I came to the marriage with. How do you go through the aspect of a lot of military families combining finances and starting out their adult life together, or choosing not to combine finances?

How do we work through that as military couples?

[00:36:28] Daniel: Yeah, especially when you add in frequent moves, military spouse unemployment or underemployment, and financial stressors associated with all that. Yeah, it adds up, but in many ways, it starts from a similar approach. 

One of the favorite questions I ask clients, especially in a marriage or partnership, is tell me about the financial strengths, and the wins that you've had together, right? So this is borrowing from the world of solution-focused therapy now in solution-focused financial therapy, which is all about finding the wins that you've already done. Okay? Why did you win there? What was successful? What made even the smallest thing or compromise or something?

And letting the couple reflect on that. Experience that emotion, that past together, and say, help them think through what? Why did that happen? Oh, we did this and we compromised here, and we made a decision that both align. Oh, okay. What are the transitive properties that we can pull from that? How could we apply that to this other area here where you might be struggling?

And you start to pick apart just those smallest past things and people say we never done anything well. Okay. What's something that you almost did well, right? You can start from anywhere. And then I love asking these scaling questions, which just say, okay, so Jamie, on a scale of one to 10, 10 being absolutely ready for you to make a decision and one being not at all, where would you rate yourself today?

And it doesn't matter what answer you say. And then we start from the one number below. Tell me you pick a five, for example. Tell me why you didn't pick a four. And it's that positive self-talk that we all have within us that says there's something, I've done this well before. And in building on that with momentum and going from there, especially in relationships, as long as you're in a committed partnership you can find something that you can latch onto and start there.

[00:38:16] Spencer: All right, Daniel. Fascinating financial therapy stuff. I have learned so much in the last 30 minutes. This has been awesome. Where do you want to send me next so I can continue learning about the stuff that you've introduced today?

[00:38:29] Daniel: So if you're interested, you're just dying to know where you score on some of these Klontz money script inventory revised, money status vigilance, worship avoidance.

So Dr. Brad Klontz has a website. He does a lot of speaking. He's a great following on social media too and posts some interesting, sometimes very provocative stuff. He's actually really big on TikTok too. I'm glad he is taken on the evil fin influencers over there. But if you go to, you can input it there.

I'm sure you get put on his mailing list and stuff like that, but it's a way for you to get exposure to where you are in this world. 

I already mentioned the books, but I'll plug them again, Mind Over Money and The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge. The last thing that I'll leave you all with is this idea that we've covered a lot of ground today, but yet in many ways only scratch the surface. If any of you have had any experience in self-discovery, or mental health, right? Recognizing that this is a journey, not a destination, and our lifetime of self-exploration is something that encompasses our financial stories, our family of origin, our money script, and all the things that we've talked about.

It's not a problem to be solved. It's a concept to work through and understand together. And the beauty of that is, it's continuous, right? Whether that's in your own generation or beyond. And you may think, I often hear especially with clients who come in “I wish I could do more savings or more passing on or more charitable giving.” 

But oftentimes the financial lessons that we teach others in our circles, like those positive peer engagements, our families, and our children, are the ones that leave the biggest ripples. And giving healthy financial dynamics is probably one of the greatest gifts, financial legacies that we can live.

And that starts with what we talked about today. Understanding yourself, and building stronger marriages and relationships because you're both coming to help understand each other and then your combined vision going forward. So I wish your audience the very best of that on this discovery and having so much personal benefit from it. I know that each of the listeners who takes the time to dive in will reap an even greater harvest.

[00:40:41] Spencer: Daniel, thank you so much for coming on the show. Some awesome topics we covered today. Super interesting with the money story, the financial therapy, and money scripts, especially the four types that we talked about.

Money status, money vigilance, money worship, and money avoidance. I know I saw myself in a lot of those and I saw a lot of my family members and a lot of those, so I'm very interested to go take this Money Scripts test and I'm going to, I'm going to make all my family members take it as well. 

Yeah, just super interesting the passing it down from generation to generation, and it's amazing when I look at some of the money scripts that my grandfather developed that I still implement today.

The things that you do can literally ripple through dozens of generations over hundreds of years. And I just think that's what a way to have just a massive impact on the future happiness of your ancestors and humanity. 

So again, thank you so much for coming on the show. And listeners, we're going to have Daniel, actually on next week's episode as well, talking about estate planning for active duty.

If you got value out of the show, leave a five-star review on Spotify or Apple Podcast, and you can shoot us an email, at or Instagram @militarymoneymanual and ask any questions and we'll also have all the links and books that Daniel mentioned in the show notes on

We'll catch you in the next episode.

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