You May Know Your Love Language, but What’s Your Money Script?

Quality Time. Acts of Service. Words of Affirmation. Physical touch. You may know your primary love language, an unofficial classification of the different ways people express and receive love. But have you heard of Money Scripts®?

Money scripts®, a term first coined by financial psychologist Brad Klotz, are the often-unconscious ideas and attitudes we have about money. They are:

  • Learned in childhood
  • Passed down through generations 
  • Only partial truths
  • Responsible for many financial outcomes 

For many people, discovering and exploring their money script® is a valuable step toward improving their financial well-being. Plus, the more you understand your own attitude toward money, the better you are able to explore how your beliefs and assumptions impact your relationships with others. No one money script® is good or bad; the important thing is to understand your primary script and manage it in a healthy way. 

Read on to discover your primary money script® and explore some ideas for how you can work with it to develop a healthy approach to managing your finances. 

#1: Money Avoidance

People with this money script may view money as inherently evil or negative, and they may go to great lengths to avoid discussions about finances. You might be a money avoider if you’ve thought things like:

  • Rich people are greedy.
  • I feel guilty about having money.
  • People with less money usually have better character than wealthy people.
  • Money stresses me out, and I’d rather just not think about it.

Unhealthy Money Avoidance:

When not addressed, people with this money script may ignore financial statements, overspend, or enable others financially. 

Healthy Money Avoidance:

Work to pay attention to money at least at a high-level; you don’t have to monitor every penny, but general budgeting and having a financial plan can go a long way in helping you reach your future goals. 

#2: Money Focus/Worship

Is money on your mind 24/7? Does money seem like the ultimate key to happiness? If so, you may be “worshiping” money without even realizing it. This might be your money script if you’ve had thoughts like:

  • I could never have enough money.
  • If I buy this, I will be happy (i.e, “retail therapy”).
  • My problems would all go away if I just made a little more money. 
  • My family will understand if I put in extra hours so I can bring home more money.

Unhealthy Money Focus:

The higher people score on Money Focus, the more likely they are to have low net worth or credit card debt. If you find yourself constantly spending in search of happiness, it might be time to make some changes. 

Healthy Money Focus:

Our society puts money on a pedestal. Still, it’s important to recognize that money does not equal happiness. Work on flexing your gratitude muscle, perhaps by keeping a gratitude journal. Make time for activities and people you love. And when you feel the impulse to make a purchase, ask yourself, do I really need this item, or am I just buying it for the sake of buying something?

#3: Money Status

This money script is similar to #2, but instead of equating money to happiness, a Money Status mentality links money and self-worth. People with this money script view themselves as more “worthy” when they have a lot of money. They may be at risk of overspending and buying flashy, expensive items to prove their status. 

You might have a “Money Status” money script if you’ve thought things like:

  • This shirt/Apple Watch/car/purse is worth the splurge, because it’s “on brand” for me.
  • I like gambling – it helps me make more money to support my lifestyle.
  • It’s acceptable to hide purchases from my partner; they wouldn’t understand why I need these things.

Unhealthy Money Status:

In an unhealthy state, people with this money script are at risk for excessive spending, gambling, and financial dependency on others. They may have been raised in a socioeconomic class that prioritized appearances, and might carry that unconscious mindset into their adult lives.

Healthy Money Status:

The key is balance. If you want to treat yourself sometimes, that’s acceptable, but not at the expense of hiding things from your partner or spending money you don’t have. Work on addressing the reasons behind your need to spend, and talk about your spending strategies with your partner.

#4: Money Vigilance

On paper, these are the “gold star” money script students. Still, too much of an extreme is never healthy, and it’s possible to be too vigilant. You might have a “Money Vigilance” money script if you’ve thought things like:

  • If you can’t buy it in cash, don’t buy it.
  • Hard work equals financial reward.
  • You can never save enough for a rainy day.
  • I’d rather save for a rainy day and my future than spend money on experiences now.

Unhealthy Money Vigilance:

When people are too focused and anxious about their finances, it can keep them from enjoying their present lives. While this money script can emphasize frugality and saving, it can also lead to excessive stress and anxiety that could have been alleviated by financial planning and management.

Healthy Money Vigilance:

Set aside a piece of your budget that is for using now on fun purchases. It’s great to save for the future, but spending on some things you can enjoy now will go a long way in helping you feel a sense of enjoyment and gratitude. Work with a trusted advisor or partner to set a specific time to think about and discuss finances, and focus on living in the moment.

By now, you probably have a sense for your own money script. Discuss it with your partner, and talk about what’s similar or different to the way you view money. You might be making assumptions about the other person’s viewpoint without even realizing it, and understanding each other can go a long way in helping you make decisions about money together in the future. Plus, it can be a fun bonding experience over a date night if you approach it with a lighthearted attitude! Let us know your results [in the comments/on our Facebook page/etc.?].


Warren Street Wealth Advisors

Warren Street Wealth Advisors, LLC., a Registered Investment Advisor

The information presented here represents opinions and is not meant as personal or actionable advice to any individual, corporation, or other entity. Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Nothing in this document is a solicitation to buy or sell any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. Warren Street Wealth Advisors may own securities referenced in this document. Due to the static nature of content, securities held may change over time and current trades may be contrary to outdated publications. Form ADV available upon request 714-876-6200.

Charitable Giving

Maximize Your Giving and Minimize Your Taxes

The end of the year is quickly approaching, which may prompt a review of any final tax planning strategies to employ before December 31. The fall and winter holiday season also turns our minds to gratitude and giving. Perhaps surprisingly, these year-end considerations are not mutually exclusive.

To promote charitable giving, the IRS offers tax deductions for certain charitable donations. The most straightforward tax benefit is an itemized deduction of the amount of any cash donations to a qualifying charitable organization, up to 60% of the taxpayer’s Adjusted Gross Income for the year (with a five-year carryover allowed). If you itemize deductions, this is an easy deduction to claim and one you are probably already aware of.

But tax-aware charitable giving strategies don’t end there. For example, a special above-the-line deduction (for non-itemizers) was created just for 2020-21 for any taxpayer to deduct cash donations up to $300 for single filers or $600 for married filing jointly.

Let’s look at three additional options to maximize your giving while minimizing your taxes.

1. Qualified Charitable Distributions 

A qualified charitable distribution (QCD) is a direct transfer from your IRA (traditional, rollover, inherited, SEP, or SIMPLE) to a qualified charity. Several attractive benefits come with a QCD:

  • First, a QCD counts toward your annual required minimum distribution (RMD).
  • Second, the amount of a QCD is excluded from your taxable income. So, rather than taking a withdrawal from your IRA, having taxes withheld, and then writing a check to your favorite charity, consider making a direct transfer from your IRA to the charity. You can send the full amount to charity without having taxes withheld on the distribution.
  • Third, the tax-exemption of a QCD doesn’t require that you itemize your deductions. Normally, to get a tax deduction for charitable giving, you need to itemize your tax deductions rather than use the standard deduction. But a QCD is tax-exempt whether or not you itemize – allowing you to take the higher deduction (whether that is the standard or itemized) and get a tax benefit for your charitable contributions either way.

To be eligible for a QCD, you must be 70 ½ or older and SEP or SIMPLE IRAs must be inactive. QCDs are limited to $100,000 per year per person and may be further limited if you are still contributing to the IRA. To count toward the current year’s RMD, the funds must be transferred from the IRA by the RMD deadline (usually December 31). 

2. Donor-Advised Funds
A Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) is a fund you establish to set aside cash and other assets for charitable giving. You receive a tax deduction for the amount given to the fund in the year contributed, and the assets are available for you to donate to specific charitable organizations at any time. 

Donations of appreciated assets, such as stock or real estate, can be given to the DAF without paying capital gains taxes. Any further growth of assets in the DAF is not taxable to you since it is already irrevocably reserved for charitable gifts.

A DAF can be used in a “batching” strategy, where the tax-deductible contribution to the fund happens in one year and then donations to your chosen charities subsequently happen on whatever timeline you wish. You can fund a batch of charitable gifts in one single tax-deductible contribution. This is a great tax-mitigating tool for a particularly high-income year and a useful ongoing strategy to maximize the tax benefits of your charitable giving. 

3. Charitable Remainder Trusts

Charitable Remainder Trusts allow you to make partially tax-deductible contributions to the trust while achieving a two-fold goal: providing an income stream to yourself or another beneficiary and giving to a charitable organization.

There are two types of Charitable Remainder Trusts: a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT) and a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT).

  • A CRAT distributes a fixed amount to the chosen beneficiary (yourself or someone else) each year. At the end of the trust term (no more than 20 years), the remainder of the trust goes to your chosen charitable organization(s). Additional contributions cannot be made once the CRAT is established.
  • A CRUT distributes a fixed percentage of the trust assets to the beneficiary, with the remainder going to your chosen charitable organization(s). Additional contributions can be made over the life of a CRUT.

The tax deduction of contributions to a Charitable Remainder Trust is based on the type of trust, the term of the trust, the projected income payments, and the IRS interest rate assumptions. You can combine a Charitable Remainder Trust with a Donor-Advised Fund to offer more flexibility. 

CARES Act Enhancements

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) added some additional tax incentives for charitable giving in tax years 2020 and 2021. The maximum allowed deduction for cash contributions increased to 100% of AGI, with a five-year carryover allowed. The deduction allowed for corporations increased to 25% of taxable income. As mentioned previously, a special above-the-line deduction (for non-itemizers) was also created for any taxpayer to deduct cash donations up to $300 for single filers or $600 for married filing jointly.

Family, corporate, and private non-operating foundations are excluded from these enhanced benefits, along with supporting organizations under Section 509(a)(3) and donor-advised funds. These enhancements only apply to cash contributions. Contributions of appreciated assets (like stock or real estate) are subject to the same prior limit of 30% of AGI.


Immediate action items we recommend:

  • If you gave to charity in 2021, make sure you take the special above-the-line deduction (up to $300 for single filers and $600 for married filing jointly).
  • If you are over age 70 ½ and donating to charity, talk with your advisor about making Qualified Charitable Deductions from your IRA.
  • If you had unusually high income this year and/or if you are consistently giving large amounts to charity, talk with your advisor about setting up a Donor-Advised Fund.

Charitable giving is a fulfilling practice and an important piece of many financial plans. Current tax law incentivizes charitable gifts, and thus, skilled tax planning can help you maximize what you can give. Talk to your advisor or tax professional to see if any of these charitable giving strategies could help you achieve your financial goals.

Kirsten C. Cadden, CFP®

Associate Advisor, Warren Street Wealth Advisors

Investment Advisor Representative, Warren Street Wealth Advisors, LLC., a Registered Investment Advisor

The information presented here represents opinions and is not meant as personal or actionable advice to any individual, corporation, or other entity. Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Nothing in this document is a solicitation to buy or sell any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. Warren Street Wealth Advisors may own securities referenced in this document. Due to the static nature of content, securities held may change over time and current trades may be contrary to outdated publications. Form ADV available upon request 714-876-6200.

Should You Downsize for Retirement?

Some retirees save a great deal of money by doing so; others do not.
Provided by Joe Occhipinti


You want to retire, and you own a large home that is nearly or fully paid off. The kids are gone, but the upkeep costs haven’t fallen. Should you retire and keep your home? Or sell your home and retire? Maybe it’s time to downsize.

Lower housing expenses could put more cash in your pocket. If your home isn’t paid off yet, have you considered how much money is going toward the home loan? When you took out your mortgage, your lender likely wanted your monthly payment to amount to no more than 28% of your total gross income, or no more than 36% of your total monthly debt repayments. Those are pretty standard metrics in the mortgage industry.1

What percentage of your gross income are you devoting to your mortgage payments today? Even if your home loan is 15 or 20 years old, you still may be devoting a significant part of your gross income to it. When you move to a smaller home, your mortgage expenses may lessen (or disappear) and your cash flow may greatly increase.

You might even be able to buy a smaller home with cash (if finances permit) and cut your tax liability. Optionally, that smaller home could be in a state or region with lower income taxes and a lower cost of living.

You could capitalize on some home equity. Why not convert some home equity into retirement income? If you were forced into early retirement by some corporate downsizing, you might have a sudden and pressing need for retirement capital, another reason to sell that home you bought decades ago and head for a smaller one.

The lifestyle reasons to downsize (or not). Maybe your home is too much to keep up, or maybe you don’t want to climb stairs anymore. Maybe a condo or an over-55 community appeals to you. Maybe you want to be where it seldom snows.

On the other hand, you may want and need the familiarity of your current home and your immediate neighborhood (not to mention the friends close by).

Sometimes retirees underestimate the cost of downsizing. Even the logistics can be expensive. As Kiplinger notes, just packing up and moving a two-bedroom condominium’s worth of furniture will cost about $1,500 if you are resettling locally. If you are sending it across the country, the journey could take $5,000 or more. If you can’t sell or move everything, the excess may go into storage, and the price tag on that may be well over $100 a month. In selling your home, you will probably pay commissions to both your agent and the buyer’s agent that add up to 6% of the sale price.2

Some people want to retire and then sell their home, but it may be wiser to sell a home and then retire if the real estate market slows. If you sell sooner instead of later, you can always rent until you find a smaller house that could save you thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars over time.

Run the numbers as accurately as you think you can before you make a move. Downsizing always seems to have a hidden cost or two, but for many retirees, it can open a door to long-term savings. Other seniors may find it cheaper to age in place.


Joe Occhipinti may be reached at 714.823.3328 or

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.



1 – [2/3/16]
2 – [4/1/16]