May 17, 2012

The seven stages of money maturity…At which stage are you & your clients?

Kiran Telang

This is a Book Review of George Kinder’s Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in your Life

George Kinder’s idea behind the book is that people need to understand their relationship with money to be at peace. In his words ‘Money can be seen as the place where our internal selves engage the external world. If either side-internal or external, self or money is slighted, the whole life suffers’.  When we think about money, we always think in terms of ‘how much’, but the truly important question is ‘what does money have to do with who I am?’ The author has extensively used literature, Buddhism and the concept of Chakras in developing the seven stages of money maturity.

The book provides seven ways of understanding your own conflicts, dilemmas and difficulties and pain around money and taking the steps to resolve them. There is extensive usage of examples to show the reality. He has developed three fictitious characters from a cross section of clients that he worked with. Their financial lives are followed in the book. Though the examples are from the American continent, the emotions behind them resonate across the world. After each chapter, he has provided questions to be answered before moving on to the next phase. These questions and exercises help in applying the reading to your own life.

The book has been divided into three major parts namely childhood, adulthood and awakening.

Childhood

Childhood has two parts, innocence and pain. The author says that we receive conscious and sub-conscious influences in childhood from parents, family and environment. It is in innocence that we hold these beliefs and thoughts dear, in spite of many of them being untrue. These beliefs affect all our decisions made about money as grown-ups. Pain he says is the result of living in innocence. ‘Live for today, who knows what tomorrow may bring’, is an innocent belief. You may end up not saving and when the money is needed for children’s education or for retirement, it is just not there.

That is when you get pulled into get rich quick schemes in the innocent belief that it once worked for someone and it will work for you too. Most of us recycle between innocence and pain that prevents us from moving towards money maturity. In childhood we make painful discoveries about money-some people are richer than us and we are richer than some people and that we will need to work for money for the things we want. In adulthood these lessons are re-learnt. The pain that these lessons bring should ideally be a warning signal to correct things that are wrong with our lives.

The author has described three stages of adulthood i.e. knowledge, understanding and vigor. He says that although practical part of knowledge is the process of financial planning, the essence is integrity. Without integrity both economic systems and relationships will fall apart. Guarding one’s integrity one can translate the desire for freedom into concrete goals and follow the financial planning process. This will include budgeting, investments, taxation etc. This is one of the most difficult stages for anyone to learn.

Adulthood

The second stage of adulthood is described as understanding. It is necessary to be aware and understands that life will not always be fair. There will be situations which you wish to alter but they will be beyond your control. Beneath several financial difficulties, there will be varied emotions of greed, envy, miserliness, guilt, shame, jealousy, humiliation etc. Accepting and resolving these emotions will make us act effectively in ways which earlier were incomprehensible.

Once knowledge and understanding is in place, we need vigor to discover our purpose in life and put full energy into it to achieve that purpose. Vigor enables us to find what constitutes freedom for us in the world of money. Vigor means strength, energy or force required to achieve something.

Awakening

The stage of awakening consists of vision and aloha. Once you are at peace with money and have discovered your purpose in life, there will be a desire to go beyond your own self and give back to the society. This is vision. It need not be grand. It can be a small thing which will make life better in your society and will make a difference to the people around you. This will be envisioned by you and accomplished. At this stage you will find no obstacle between what you want to accomplish and what you do.

Aloha conveys kindness, generosity and compassion. It is an effortless flow of kindness from one human being to another without reference to any childhood messages of generosity and it transcends economic differences.  That brings out the natural generosity in us as humans. This is possible only when we have developed sufficient knowledge, understanding and vigor to support it.

What the author says is very relevant not only to the lay person who grapples to come to terms with his financial life , but also to financial planners who hand hold their clients in the maze of money. The book helps us understand why we and our clients behave in a certain manner and accordingly take actions. He also gives examples where his client left him even though he always had integrity worked for the clients benefit. This makes us understand that inspite of best intentions things can go wrong and that is okay. The work of money maturity is never over; we always keep on learning through our experiences.

To summarize… the seven stages of money maturity are;

Childhood

1. Innocence-The childhood state we are born in, devoid of any concept of money
2. Pain-The discovery that we have more money than some and less than others, and that work is necessary to make a living

Adulthood

3. Knowledge-The intellectual task of learning financial techniques such as saving, budgeting, and investing
4. Understanding-The emotional work done in coming to terms with feelings around money, such as greed, envy, and resentment (which are rooted in Pain)
5. Vigor-The energy (physical, emotional, and spiritual) that must be expended to reach financial goals

Awakening

6. Vision-The direction of Vigor outward toward the health and welfare of communities, with or without profit motive
7. Aloha-The compassionate goodwill that allows one to use money to perform acts of kindness without expecting anything in return

The book is available at Flipkart for Rs. 796

 

Authored by,

Kiran Telang

Chief Financial Planner
 ABT Capital Advisors
Mumbai

2 Thoughts to “The seven stages of money maturity…At which stage are you & your clients?”

  1. I have read the book. It encompasses the circle of life, taking our financial and spiritual well being into consideration.It address how we perceive money in the various stages of life and what should be our approach when looking at our clients finances. Good reading!

  2. I too have read the book.A wonderful concept how money plays a big role in your personal finance behavior.Especially the case studies which he has discussed highlights deep understanding of the subject.Good Reading!

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