Tame Your Money Shame

It’s taboo to talk about financial struggles because our emotions about money run so deep—but naming our feelings around money will help us deepen our relationship with it.

Illustrations by Asia Pietrzyk

When it comes to money, shame is present somewhere in us all, whether it’s right at the surface or swept under the rug, prompting big changes or holding us back from even starting our money healing journey.

We all carry it. Women, men, black, brown, white, young, old, short, tall, gay, straight, billionaires and paupers, spreadsheet enthusiasts and number-phobes, self-made entrepreneurs, welfare recipients, and trustfunders. Money shame is an equal opportunity affliction, and it does not discriminate based on who you are, where you’re from, how much money you earn, what percentage you save, whether you pay your taxes on time, or what your credit score is.

Your money shame might be tied to a specific experience in your life, your upbringing in general, or none of the above. Here are some variants I’ve heard:

“I’m just not good with money. I can’t be trusted with it.”

“I earn plenty, but I still seem to spend too much—how do I have this much debt?”

“I’m too right-brained, creative, and bad at math to be good with money.”

“If I make a lot of money, I’m betraying my working-class roots.”

“I should be further along with my savings/earnings/debt payoff/investment.”

“People who have…


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About the author

Bari Tessler

Bari Tessler is a financial therapist, author, and creator of the online Art of Money program at baritessler.com.