top of page

Money Trauma. What It Is And How to Overcome It.

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Most of us live with some emotional trauma around money, from the memory of our parents' conflicts around money to the long hours our dad worked to "put food on the table" and the times we've struggled to make ends meet.

Or maybe your trauma could be in the form of shame, shame for your bankruptcy, shame from receiving calls from collection agencies, or the need to ask your dad for money, although you're thirty-two. You may not even be aware of your money trauma.

Are You Experiencing Money Trauma?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to uncover your money trauma.

  • Do you feel uncomfortable talking about money?

  • Do you believe the system's rigged and money is the root cause of all the problems in this world?

  • Are rich people entitled?

  • Do you feel there's never enough?

  • Is your childhood one of financial scarcity?

  • Are you constantly struggling to make ends meet no matter how much you make?

  • Do you wake up at night fearing how you will pay your bills?

If these experiences plague you, you may have some degree of money trauma.

What is Money Anyway?

Let's unpack the source of our trauma. What is money anyway? It is not just paper, nor is it about numbers. It has so much charge to it that it can cause trauma because money is an emotional subject. Money is about power, security, and love.

The subject of money can stir up feelings of fear, insecurity, powerlessness, or fun, adventure, and opportunities. So what emotions does the subject of money stir up for you?

Discover Your Emotional Triggers Around Money

Our experiences with money shape our beliefs; they trigger our emotional responses and influence our relationship with it. Therefore, you must confront your money trauma to improve your relationship with money.

Exercises to Nurture a Healthier Relationship with money:

Make a list of the last five financial decisions you've made.

These could be significant decisions like purchasing a home or small choices such as buying a new pair of shoes.

Answer these questions:

  • If you could do it over again, would you make the same financial decisions again?

  • What was going through your mind when you made the decision?

  • How did you feel when you made the decision? Of course, you might not even remember what you thought or felt — your decision might have been that quick and decisive. Nonetheless, there was a process, however subtle or subconscious it was.

What Drives Your Spending?

  • On what do you spend most of your money?

  • What needs are you usually trying to meet when you spend money?

  • What are most of your unplanned purchases?

  • When do you make most of your unplanned purchases?

  • Finally, ask yourself, "I get the most satisfaction from buying…."

  • Is money tied to your self-worth?

  • Is shopping tied to your emotions? Retail therapy?

How Does Money Trauma Show Up for You?

Money trauma can be debilitating. As a result, we are left paralyzed when making major financial decisions. For some people, money trauma shows up as an addiction to shopping or compulsive spending. And for others, it may appear as hoarding or withholding.

How Do You Heal From Money Trauma?

Money trauma is wrapped in fear. The fear of never having enough or that what you do have will disappear. Times of economic uncertainty and inflation, as we are experiencing now, can exacerbate our money trauma.

According to a new Mind over Money survey by Capital One and The Decision Lab, 77% of Americans worry about their financial situation. Here are some ways to heal from money trauma.


Decide that you want to change your feelings about money. And this will change your relationship with money. Next, decide what outcomes you desire most from your finances. For example, if you've been feeling a sense of lack, you will want to start experiencing a feeling of abundance instead.

How do you do that with a pile of bills in your drawer? Your beliefs and feelings change your reality and not the other way around. That may be a stretch for some, but give it a shot if you've never tried it.

Of course, this has to be followed by aligned action. Are you currently messy with your money? Such as not tracking what's coming in and what's leaving. Or are you avoiding the subject altogether -preferring to keep your head in the sand?

Confront Your Fears

Your money problems don't disappear because you've ignored them or are wishing them away. Look at your cash flow over the last three to six months. Resolve if you want to change things. And start now.

Question Your Beliefs

As you make these changes, believe that your reality will align with your resolve because they will! Question your beliefs. Replace them with ones supporting the new relationship you desire with money.

It's much like my friends who want a relationship but keep voicing, like a broken record, that there are no good people around. If you believe money is wrong, there is no way you will attract money.

My Trauma with Money

Feeling a sense of lack is not the only form of money trauma. My PTSD about money is the inherent belief that someone would only love me for what I could offer them financially and never for who I was. It's taken a while but uncovering the belief is half the battle.

Many of us don't know how to separate love and money; it is often intertwined in the most unhealthy way.

Bringing It All Together

If you're doing all you can but not attracting the income or opportunities you desire, there could be areas of trauma in your relationship with money. Or you could have subconscious beliefs about money that you're unaware of. Try releasing the emotional grip money has on you and realize that money is merely a tool.

It's not good or bad. It's the meaning you've ascribed to it. So please give it a positive meaning and permit yourself to receive it.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page