Taking the Right Lesson From Scrooge

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, December 2, 2007

As any therapist will tell you, conflicts about money are usually not about money. They're about you, or rather, "your issues."

So for my final Color of Money Book Club selection this year, I'm offering a pick that isn't just about money. Why not take a break from the commercial bustle of the season and sit down with a book that may make you think about why you're a spendthrift or why you consider "budget" a cuss word? Or maybe you need to let go of the fears that make you a miser.

Befitting the holiday season, the book club selection for December is "The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge: 5 Principles to Transform Your Relationship With Money" (Health Communications Inc., $14.95) by Ted and Brad Klontz and Rick Kahler.

Ted Klontz is a certified therapist based in Nashville and president of Onsite Workshops, an organization that helps people heal from painful behaviors and relationships. Brad Klontz, Ted's son, is a licensed clinical psychologist and president of Coastal Clinics in Kapaa, Hawaii.

Rick Kahler is a certified financial planner and president of Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, S.D. Kahler works with certified counselors and therapists through his private practice, offering financial coaching and counseling.

Now, don't do what I did when I picked up this book. I dismissed it simply because of the title. I thought the concept was contrived. But I was prompted to take another look because of my own frustrations with people who repeatedly make the same bad financial choices.

Soon, I found myself enthusiastically underlining and dog-earing page after page.

I double-starred this quote: "You will soon come to understand that the amount of money you have or make is irrelevant."

The authors effectively use the transformation of Scrooge in Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" to make their point that "it's your relationship with money that is key." Scrooge makes a good case study, as does Bob Cratchit.

Do you recall that Cratchit spent a handsome sum for Christmas pudding and a goose? How many people overspend during this season even as they are ducking calls from creditors?

"The truth is, people from all socioeconomic levels are trapped in self-destructive behaviors that feel right to them," the authors write.

I'm telling you, this book provides several weeks of therapy in 151 pages. Our money complexes are deeply rooted.

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