Financial Literacy Tips for Mental Health

Apparently there is a whole field called “financial therapy” which focuses on the psychology aspects of money. I took a Zoom workshop from The Financial Diet and wanted to share my notes. There isn’t anything revolutionary, these are just basic life skills but for many who grew up in complicated households an always needed reminder. With pandemic lifting I think it’s a good time to revisit where our assumptions about money and the future are rooted in.


  • Adults have hard time budgeting because of growing up with financial distress
  • You never want to return to your younger poor self
  • Those who grew up around money now find it pointless to manage

Yes money was definitely a whirlwind of hell for me growing up. Not that it wasn’t around, it just was never predictable and seemed to manifest out of thin air even though most of the time it was scarcity. The immigrant family mindset around money is a constant contradiction between comfort and fire drills.

Financial Trauma

  • Bankruptcy or financial loss events
  • Usage of food stamps, financial aid, loans
  • Complex and intersecting events like divorce
  • Personal financial collapse events

Growing up there were big events from my parents where we thought we were on financial disaster whether that was intentional (gambling) or not (loans). While such events are not avoidable, the way they are dealt with can leave lasting scars. My parents were loud and reactive and so that passed into me.

Personally in my 20s after the second recession, I ended up in my aunt’s restaurant cutting green beans and serving Kung Pao chicken to people making real salaries. I thought all the smarts and talents and degrees I had acquired would make me bulletproof to anything. That’s not the real world!

Scarcity Mindset

  • Never enough money, defeated anxious to money
  • Never throw anything away cuz nothing comes to me
  • How much I should have saved dilemma (living in past)

I am notorious for living in the past and regretting poor financial decisions. After graduating college, I let an Italian model sell me a used “almost new” Corolla in a busted out roadside car lot in a “bad” suburb. Then I later found out it had a salvage record from Hurricane Katrina!

But the really dumb part was that I insisted on an econo car when there were plenty of sedans and SUVs in the lot at the same price. I was just focused on portraying how modest and environmental I was, and didn’t even care about the utility or practicality of the vehicle. Uber didn’t exist then but for example I could have helped people move.

Stressing on sticker price and bells and whistles are fallacies. A car is actually at the end of the day a tool.

Abundance Mindset

  • I can give this away and it will make it to someone else and something else will come back to me
  • Opportunities are endless
  • I am capable of giving and receiving

Abundance really comes up in shopping and bartering for me. Like at the end of the day, you saved $5 on a shirt or $20 on a table. Yes save money, find deals, but you don’t have to go all across town after days of research to purchase something that is consumable anyway. Time and energy is precious, protect that, instead of being stuck in seemingly life or death decisions at shopping carts.

I burned a good 6 months trying to find the perfect couch for my living room and I ended up spending more money and got the wrong one anyway. So there goes 6 months I could have just ended up enjoying the first couch I saw that fit, and already been on my next house project. Same went with the fact I was trying to Craigslist my existing couch for way more than it was worth, who cares, you got plenty of life and love out of it, let it go.

Building experiences is what I’m about, so when I think of needing to do a lot of purchases around a common theme, I will set budgets versus wrangling each item.