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What Does Your “Money Tree” Look Like?

Have you ever experienced this: You set a financial goal and work super hard to achieve it, but regardless of what you do, you can’t seem to make it happen. As soon as you take one step forward, something comes up to knock you back to square one.

You pay off one batch of debts, then the furnace blows and your credit card gets another workout.

You gain a new, exciting stream of business for your business, then find out two others have bailed on you. Net new money = next to nothing.

It’s like you’ve hit a wall and you can’t seem to get ahead, whether you’re looking to make more money, grow a business, pay off debt, or build your nest egg.

What gives?

This is precisely the situation I’m addressing with the participants in my Master Your Mindset Course. No, I’m not going to share a link to join and suggest that you click here to grab a spot. The course has started and registration is closed.

Instead, I want to give you a sneak peek at one of the exercises I shared with my participants, because it’s a powerful way to help you gain insights into the patterns, experiences, and emotions that are keeping you stuck. It’s those experiences that are responsible for your financial thermostat setting that keeps you at your current level of results.


My what?

Yes – your financial thermostat setting.

After fifteen years of working with people to help them turn money into a helpful tool that serves their values, I know that we all perform up to the level of our financial setting and no farther. We have the equivalent of an internal money thermostat that dictates how much we can achieve.

If you want to achieve more or get better results with your  money, you need to reset your thermostat. The way to do that is to understand the patterns, experiences and emotions that served to create the setting in the first place.

Below is a four-minute video I shot after 8 hours of recording for my course. I was tired and I had major bags under my eyes (yikes!), but I wanted to share this one strategy with you before wrapping up for the day because it gets results for my clients.

I talk about creating a money tree, which is a visual representation of your current financial situation, including all the key influencers in your life, the major events, and the financial inter-relationships between the various characters. If you did that, what would your money tree look like?

Now imagine that you did the same to represent the dynamic during your childhood. What would stand out?

You’ll be amazed by the insights you glean when you create your financial tree, complete with the major events and associated emotions from your past. Try it for yourself with the instructions below.


Insights from my money tree

In my course, I actually draw out the money tree from my childhood and early adulthood. The lessons I learned changed the game for me. They helped me to:

  • Understand how I developed a scarcity mindset in my twenties without realizing it, despite being a Type A, high-achieving adolescent.
  • See how the stories from my past framed what I thought was possible.
  • Realize that my results had changed for the worse because of the influences in my life at the time.
  • Understand that I have the power to change any situation by change the money script that run my financial thermostat.


How to create your Money Tree

Give it a try. All it takes is a blank sheet of paper, a pen, and some time to think. Here are the instructions:

  1. Pick a moment in time that represents your childhood. You will use this time frame as the basis for your drawing.
  2. Draw a stick figure that represents you. The size and position of the figure can reflect your perception of the position you feel you held in the system.
  3. Select one shape (e.g. circles) to represent the significant females in the system. Use the size and position of the circles to reflect their position and influence in the system. Start with the most significant female, perhaps your mother, then add the others.
  4. Select another shape (e.g. triangles) to represent the significant males in the system. Use the size and position of the circles to reflect their position and influence in the system. Start with the most significant male, perhaps your father, then add the others.
  5. Use another shape, perhaps a square, to represent other significant influences – pets, illness, work, religion, alcohol, divorce, death, etc.
  6. Use the dollar sign ($) to reflect the relationship that each person had with money. You can also use this symbol along with difference size or multiple dollars signs, to reflect the impact an event had on finances or to indicate the level of wealth a person had, or again the importance of money for a particular individual.
  7. Use arrows to represent the flow of money into and out of your life. Who earned the money? Who spent the money? Was there a lot of it (big dollar signs) or was there too little (small dollar signs)? If debt was an issue, use arrows to reflect money leaving the system.
  8. Use any symbols or colours that resonate with you to represent the various relationships in the system.
  9. When you’ve completed your drawing representing your childhood, do it again for adulthood. Pick a moment in time – today or a moment from your past – to use as the basis for the drawing.
  10. Once your drawings are complete, take some time to look at them for clues about the beliefs or attitudes about money and wealth that someone might develop as a result of these experiences?
  11. To what degree have you internalized these messages and acted on them with little conscious awareness throughout your life? Note the actions you’ve taken that are linked to the beliefs from your past.
  12. Which of the beliefs have you internalized that may be affecting your financial set point?

Take the time to look for patterns. When you’ve identified some of the beliefs and harmful patterns from the past, you can start to change your money script.

Good luck! Let me know what you come up with. Reach out if you have any questions.


The YFL Blog is written by Doris Belland, who believes that Money Changes Everything. Doris helps women change their lives by taking charge of their money, getting rid of corrosive debt, and building the confidence to make financial decisions for a better future, using a No Shame, No Blame, No Judgment approach.

Could you use some tips on thriving during the pandemic? If so, click here to access Doris’s FREE 83-Page Ultimate Guide.

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