A Message from Tiffany Bass Bukow, Founder of
Throughout my life, I have enjoyed significant financial
success and endured surprising financial failure. Dealing
with the success was easy. Dealing with the failure
was not, especially when it was unexpected. I have had
to challenge my values and work hard to continue to
succeed while learning from failure. And I discovered
that friends who had been in similar circumstances were
my greatest source of motivation.
I hope that MsMoney.com's Success Stories provide
you with the same inspiration I received from my friends.
Each week, we will profile a remarkable woman who has
confronted financial obstacles and overcome challenges
to lead a happy, financially secure, and meaningful
If you'd like to share your success story, please e-mail
us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How I Became a Financial Psychologist
By Dr. Kathleen Gurney
pioneering work in financial psychology dates
back to the fall of 1981 when I became my first client. I
had just received my doctorate degree from the University
of Southern California and had accepted the universitys
offer to lecture on psychology for the Department of Defense
at American military bases in Holland, Germany, Belgium, and
Spain. Per my request, my paychecks were to be deposited into
my checking account every month.
As I moved through Europe, I wrote checks at the PXs and banks
on the military bases to cover my living expenses and sent
checks back to Los Angeles to cover my home mortgage payment
and other bills. At the end of six weeks abroad, I tried to
cash a check for $50 at a PX in Belgium and was told that
the check was no good. Soon afterward, bounced checks from
all over Europe began to catch up with me. I called the payroll
department at USC to find out what had happened and was told
that due to an administrative oversight, my contract had not
been processed, and I was not on the payroll. They promised
to look into the matter and rectify the situation immediately.
I had enough money in a savings account to cover my bills
for two months, but two months later, my checks were still
bouncing because the payroll error had not been corrected.
As a result, I called my parents and borrowed money from them.
As the weeks passed and USC failed to untangle the bureaucratic
red tape, my money anxiety began to grow. I kept a logbook
of every dollar I spent and all the checks that had bounced.
I was blacklisted, had no credit line in Europe or the U.S.,
and felt powerless. Since I had very little cash, I rarely
went out in the evenings and spent a lot of time wondering
how I had allowed myself to get into such a financial fix.
While I kept telling myself that the problem was only temporary
and that I would laugh about it someday, I was anxious and
depressed. One of my journal entries from that time reads:
My world has fallen off its axis. I have felt frightened
and lonely before but never like this. What has happened to
the sense of well being Ive had all of my life? Everything
stable and certain in my life is in flux. Without money, how
vulnerable am I? What does money mean to me? I will never
let money do this to me again.
The university finally straightened out its financial error,
but I knew that I would never forget the financial and psychological
impact of that year in Europe. When I returned to Los Angeles,
I enrolled in graduate courses in finance and read books about
money. Although I found countless books about money and investing,
there was very little information about how people feel about
money and how feelings and attitudes influence the way people
handle their money. I felt there should be information and
services available to others who might be experiencing money
problems both individually and in relationships.
My money problems in Europe were due to the fact that while
I was solvent on paper, I was cash poor. For years I had invested
all of my money in real estate and had no liquidity for emergencies.
After taking a number of financial courses, I was ready to
diversify my investments and sought the help of an investment
adviser who worked for a major financial institution. Throughout
my first meeting with him, I felt he was only trying to persuade
me to buy the products he was selling. I walked away certain
that he didnt understand how I felt about my money--that
I was looking for investments that would not only reap profits
but would leave me content, secure, and comfortable. He appeared
very well intentioned but placed my money in investments that
left me uneasy. At first, I attributed my anxious feelings
to the new experience of investing in unknown areas. In retrospect,
I realize my discomfort was due to the fact that he had not
taken the time to get to know me--what I was all about and
which investments would give me peace of mind.
Subsequently, I developed the Moneymax® Profile, the
cornerstone of financial psychology. It is based on a one-page
questionnaire that determines attitudes on 13 financial traits
that influence money behavior and investment decisions. Using
the Moneymax® Profile, I surveyed a large segment of the
American population to determine how people think about and
deal with money. The results of that national survey divide
Americans into 9 distinct money styles, and those styles form
the basis of my book, Your Money Personality: What It Is
and How You Can Profit from It.
Today my company, Financial Psychology Corporation, markets
the Moneymax® Profile for use in major corporations and
financial service companies. I have also used the profile
in my private practice to help clients change self-sabotaging
money styles into styles that are more productive and enriching.
The reason financial psychology has become the focus of my
life is simple. The frustration I have felt in my search for
financial fulfillment is what I have seen in many others.
Money is a worthless and meaningless commodity unless you
know how to make the best use of it. That knowledge begins
with self-awareness and understanding how you can become your
greatest financial asset.
If you would like more information about
Dr. Kathleen Gurneys book, Your Money Personality:
What It Is and How You Can Profit from It or want to discover
your unique money personality by taking the Moneymax®
Profile, visit Dr. Gurneys Web site: www.kathleengurney.com.