- Stacey Tisdale previously held roles as a financial journalist at The Wall Street Journal and CNN.
- She found herself constantly stressed out and making bad financial decisions.
- Tisdale uncovered her “money script” to understand her behavior and change her relationship with money.
Stacey Tisdale was working her dream job as a financial journalist with some of the biggest media organizations in the business: the Wall Street Journal, CBS and CNN, just to name a few, but despite her success, she was unfulfilled. She was highly stressed and she wasn’t making the best decisions with her money.
“I was playing it safe and it was getting me nowhere,” Tisdale tells Insider. “I was stressed out and wondering what my next step was going to be. I knew that I wanted to continue working in financial journalism and helping people manage their money better, but I had to do it in a different way.”
Tisdale finally realized that she was scared. She had always done what was expected of her.
“I had been conditioned that where I was and what I had was enough and that trying to break away from that would have been crazy,” says Tisdale.
She went to work on changing her life. One day while doing a report for CNN, she asked herself, what is it about money that makes it so difficult for us to get it right? Not only get it right in terms of everyday money management, but also setting ourselves up for financial success.
These questions, and her own desire to get right with money and break down traditional barriers, led her on a 6-year study into financial behavior on what keeps us from breaking away from traditional models, investing in our passions, and finding financial independence.
Tisdale’s journey culminated in a study on financial behavior or “money scripts.” A money scripts is a term used in behavioral finance coined by Rick Kahler, author of “Conscious Finance: Uncover Your Hidden Money Beliefs and Transform the Role of Money in Your Life,” to describe beliefs that we have acquired about money and how it works and are the result of conditioning that begin from the moment we are born.
According to Tisdale there are 3 main money scripts:
Childhood Scripts: Our first education about money comes from our primary caregivers and how we observed them handle money and their ideas and attitudes around money. This is often where our first impressions about money come from. If you saw your parents stressed about money or living paycheck to paycheck, more likely than not, you may also find yourself stressed about money and living paycheck to paycheck.
Social Scripts: We are greatly influenced by social messages and the media about what we should have and what we should do. We spend a lot of time comparing our lives and achievements to our peers. These social scripts also influence how we feel about ourselves.
“This was the money script that I struggled with. In my mind, I had what most people would want and it would make no sense to walk away from that,” Tisdale explains. “I was comparing myself to other people and what society said success should look like. That kept me trapped and afraid to walk away from what I was doing.”
The Songs We Play in Our Heads: From the moment we start receiving money, we have preconceived notions, according to Tisdale. Negative inner thoughts and doubts can become one’s biggest barrier to financial success. Believing notions such as, “Money management is too difficult,” or telling oneself that “I will never understand how to invest,” are examples of “songs” that can play in one’s head.
Once you understand your money script, you can break out of it and stop making financial decisions that play into it.
“I really had to get rid of that social script that was playing in my head and telling me that I was fine where I was, because I wasn’t. I was operating out of fear and not using my money to its greatest potential. It was when I let it go, that I moved forward and started investing differently,” Tisdale states.
Tisdale knew that she would have to eventually leave corporate America. She admits she struggled with this. She was one of the first women and the first African-American to report from the New York Stock Exchange, but even this did not bring her happiness and financial independence.
“I knew that money and teaching people how to manage money better was my passion, but the way that I was doing it was not. It took some time to walk away because according to society and my peers I was where I should be,” Tisdale says of the experience.
Also, during this time, she tackled her own negative financial behaviors.
“I found myself overspending and carrying credit card debt. It was not an overnight process to get through this, I also needed to test the waters to see if what I wanted to do would work,” says Tisdale.
To see if her idea was feasible, she formed Winning Play$, a behavior based financial literacy program that helps students develop healthy behavior around money.
“After reporting on money for years, I had a unique perspective on people and money. I could easily spot negative financial behavior and realized that it often started very young and stuck with us throughout our lives,” Tisdale says. She took the time to get out of debt and improve her own financial situation while testing her business idea.
It was also by creating Winning Play$ that Tisdale finally found her passion and knew that she could put her acquired money knowledge to use in a way that she loved.
“Once I had accomplished that, that was really the jolt that I needed to finally break away from what I had known for so long. I then started putting my resources into building my business around money and financial literacy in earnest,” Tisdale explained.
Tisdale says that the reason why this is important is because we are all operating under some kind of money script, whether we know it or not.
“Whenever there is a financial problem, we go right to the numbers and think that the only way to solve it is to get more money,” she says. “Then you get more money and a few months later you are back in the same situation. What if you asked yourself, ‘Why am I in this situation?’ or ‘Why is this a cycle for me?'”
She went on to build Mind Money Media, a multimedia and event content provider with a focus on financial wellness. It wasn’t until she got out of her own way that she found career and financial success, Tisdale concedes. Her company has partnered with numerous organizations and corporations teaching their workforce positive financial behavior and encouraging healthy relationships around money. Because of her research, she became one of the pioneering journalists in behavioral finance and financial psychology.
“We all have to realize that our financial decisions are based on learned financial behavior and typically it is this behavior that is keeping us from pursuing our passions and achieving our financial goals,” she explains.”It wasn’t until I dropped that script in my head, telling me what I should be doing, and invested in what I really wanted to do that I achieved financial success.”