What’s Your Money Story with Jessica Cannella


An Old Memory:

Ceramic piggybank; calculator; glass jar and stack of coins against blue background

Jessica: Your money story forms your money mentality. I’m Jessica Cannella, co-founder, and president of Oak Harvest Financial Group and today I want to discuss with you a little bit about the importance of your money story and why is mentality very important.

Well, mentality is your attitude and as it applies to money, that’s critically important. We all have behaviors and characteristics that we share around money. They’re formed generally at a very young age which brings us to our money story.

Now, I believe that you can have more than one money story. If you grew up in a household with two parents, you could see very different behaviors around money. What I think is most important is that you are introspective and that you look at how they may have affected your mentality when it comes to your money.

Let’s discuss a few common money stories, ones that I’ve heard in the past, and the mentality that developed as a result of experiencing those money stories. . .

Money stories generally occur between the ages of five to seven years old. One of the money stories that’s resonated with me the most was a story that I heard when I asked this question to a group of women at one of my financial workshops about two years ago. I asked the question, who here can share their money story with the group? Now, before that, I should say we had a bottle of red, a bottle of white, a basket of bread on the table and these ladies had five minutes with nice calming music on in the room to go ahead and really give some thought about what their very first memories were of money.

I’m asking the question and passing the microphone and the woman asked the lady next to her to hold the microphone for her and she said, “My very first memory of money was this.” I asked, please explain. She said, “Well, my parents were raised during the Great Depression and they are long since passed now but I remember that they did not speak about money in our home.

Now that you’ve got me thinking this way, they didn’t need to be speaking about it because I remember peeking down the staircase as a little girl and seeing my dad and my mom speaking in hushed voices and my mom was going like this with her hands and I just knew that it was about money. When I tell this story to this day, I get goose pimples on my arm because it’s so impactful for the way that we relate to money as adults.

I asked her again, can you elaborate a little bit about maybe how that’s created some blocks for you around your own money? She said, “Well, for myself, I don’t like to spend it. I like to save and rack up all of my money and see it in the bank account and at 75 years old, I’m here at your seminar today to hopefully start to undo that because I would love to understand what are the parameters for me spending money.” Even just that word parameter tells me that this woman does not want to step or color out of the lines here when it comes to her money because she grew up afraid of not having it.

That might sound like a very common thing that happens when she was very specific to say how I related to the money story and how that has affected me, it caused me to ask a follow-up question.

I asked her, and she is holding the microphone by this point, I said, “You were very specific to say how it has affected you, was there more to that?” She said, “My sister has done the exact opposite.” She said, “We can’t even go shopping together because I’ll be having anxiety, and my heart will be racing that she’s spending so much and she’ll be in my ear telling me that I’m cheap, I’m frugal, spendthrift and all of this.”

I thought that was very interesting and so I researched it a little bit after the seminar, how our money stories really do impact our mentality around money and how it is even possible that two siblings growing up in the same household could have completely different money mindsets. It’s a fact of life. If you think about your own siblings or your own relationship with money, it is very possible that it’s very different from how you treat money versus your siblings.

What the research indicated was that we either do exactly the opposite of what our money stories showed us. We live a totally different story, or we tend to do the exact same. Which in this case, the 75-year-old woman at my retirement workshop stood up and so bravely said, “I’m afraid to spend my money.” At 75 years old, and as a financial planner, I think that’s so incredibly sad. She did end up becoming a client. I’m not a therapist but we did a lot of work around her money story and undoing that.

One of the best practices to undo your money story is to rewrite it. I am in control of my money. Money comes freely to me. Also, that’s not enough, seeking the guidance of professionals will go a long way, and it’s going to be very difficult for you to like in her case, spend the money if you don’t have a good understanding of where that mentality was even shaped. How could you possibly rewrite the ending to that story or your journey there in without understanding where you are?

We should always look to our past to understand our present and then do better for our future. Thanks for hopping on and listening to a quick story about money stories and the importance thereof. I’m going to be giving a couple of more examples. If you didn’t see yourself in the saver, perhaps you’ll see yourself in the warrior or in the spender. Tune in, continue through the series, and we’ll be discussing more examples of money stories. Thank you.