Terri’s story

Terri was a professional, earning a good salary. No matter how much she made, she continued to have more debt than she was comfortable with and could not save money consistently. Terri paid most bills on time but occasionally was a few days late. Terri didn’t know exactly how much she owed. She didn’t know what her monthly expenses were. Terri was committed to changing her relationship with money.

After a few sessions, in which we explored her work history, which had been variable, and discovered her resistance to tracking her current spending, it was apparent that Terri’s money issues included money fog, chronic debt and underearning.

Using the Money Autobiography to explore some of her underlying beliefs about money, we found that when she was a child, as young as 3, she began to associate money, especially paying attention to it, as dangerous. She was one of several children with a two parent, one income household. Money was tight. Just before payday when Mom would sit down to figure out how to pay the bills, she was more likely to get angry and take that anger out on the children. Effectively, Terri brought that scared 3-year-old with her every time she sat down to balance her checkbook or track her spending. Having uncovered her belief, that paying attention to money was dangerous, we established some safe structures for Terri to use when working with her money. These structures included an affirmation that she was safe, a soothing cup of tea and relaxing music. This additional structure allowed Terri to begin tracking her expenses regularly, get bills paid on time and end her dependence on credit.

Within a couple of years of counseling, we uncovered and resolved other issues. She became less impulsive and more reasoned with her money. Terri eliminated all her consumer debt. She saved enough money to buy her first home. She continued using the tools learned in counseling. She upgraded her home, sold it for a considerable profit, and bought a larger home. She joined a credit union to establish a new savings account for a specific purpose. Without her asking, the credit union informed her that she had been pre-approved for a $65,000 car loan. Grateful for the work she had done to be eligible for such bounty and mindful that she no longer made impulsive spending decisions, she graciously declined the offer.

Terri is not this client’s real name.