Book Review: Emotional Currency

Editor’s note: This is the first post from our new contributor, Sara Blackthorne. Welcome to Scoutie Girl, Sara!

Hi there, Scoutie Girls (and Guys)!

It’s so exciting for me to be sharing this, my first review, here on Scoutie Girl. As a long-time reader, I know the importance of sharing valuable information, stuff I might not read other places, so I hope to bring that uniquity to my posts.

First, a bit about me: I keep a blog and teach writing workshops based at my site, A Forest of Stories. Through my own storytelling and evolution, I have discovered my passion for personal narrative, for truth-speaking, for facing our demons. In addition to be a writer and editor, I am also an aspiring attorney, walking the long, slow journey to juris doctorate to find a voice in the legal system for others to tell their stories. It’s an amazing and profound journey, and I feel blessed every day to walk this path.

What does this have to do with Scoutie Girl and all of you? Well, you can anticipate from me an eclectic mix of reviews, from indie musicians to books you absolutely must read to the next great undiscovered novel. Not only am I interested in personal storytelling, but in the components that make up our stories – particularly our money stories.

Which leads me to this month’s review of Emotional Currency by Kate Levinson.

“Feelings…offer the only path for healing our wounds from our painful experiences and emotions involving money.”
~ Kate Levinson

I stumbled upon Emotional Currency while reading Tara Gentile’s The Art of Earning. I had been wandering my local bookstore, searching for more information, more text, about the relationship between women, earning, and financial responsibility. As someone who has been categorically “poor” for most of her life, I had finally realized that my experiences and encounters with money were connected to something deep, something really challenging, and I was ready to slay that dragon. When I came across this book, sitting alone on a shelf, I realized that it was exactly the approach I needed to take.

Dr. Levinson’s book isn’t just for women, let me be clear on that. While she writes and markets her strategies for female brains, I believe these tools are just as useful for men, and deeply valuable given our proclivity for discouraging emotions in male lives.

What she advocates, on a basic level, is the exploration of our experiences, encounters, history, and emotions surrounding money – of all kinds.

The good, the bad, the disastrous, the brilliant.

The dominant activity in this book is creating a “money memoir,” a written account of financial situations and the lessons they teach us. Using incredibly pointed questions, and a gentle hand, Dr. Levinson guides us through the twisted and often terrifying memories of money: having it, not having it, spending it, saving it, losing it, and everything in between.

“In what ways, and under what circumstances, do you judge yourself for what you have? Do you fantasize about being taken care of (financially)? Or being self-supporting? How did the financial resources in your family growing up affect how you live today? How does how much you earn influence your sense of your own value in the world?”
~ Kate Levinson

When I first read this book, I was neat and clean. I didn’t take many notes (and certainly not in the book itself), skimmed over many of the questions, and generally read it at the surface level. Then my world turned upside-down, and what was once a financially stable situation left me scrambling for housing and income. I came back to this book with a fervor, frantically scribbling in the margins and dedicating a journal to my own “money memoir.” What I learned, in this second reading, was that my own eagerness to learn about financial responsibility actually triggered my fear of financial responsibility (funny how that works).

“[We] seldom see ourselves and therefore our money in isolation, but instead as part of a web of relationships…that we have strong feelings for people and relationships, and these feelings need to be included in our decisions about money.”
~ Kate Levinson

If you’re at all interested (or even a bit curious) about deepening your relationship to money, or about understanding the motivations and experiences behind your financial decisions, this book will completely change your understanding. I am on my third reading now, and I still gain new insights and have “ah-ha” moments with each page.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with the emotional aspects of financial life!

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Emotional Currency

  1. Thanks Sara for sharing your insight into Emotional Currency! I had the privilege of meeting Kate Levinson in person last year in an intimate setting and was inspired by her talk and her book. I also want to recommend another author who speaks so honestly and openly about money — Lynn Twist, “The Soul Of Money.” Both Kate and Lynn have radically shifted my perspective on currency.

  2. Wonderful book review, Sara! I totally get that you are successful and will continue to be because of your honesty about your own story- you’re not stuck in a story about yourself – you’re sharing your up to the moment present truth and it is so refreshing! it’s alive and moving and breathing. I learned about being intimate with myself in this moment to a new level from reading how you wrote about this book. I yearn to be able to do that in my blog, so thank you, I will keep working at it, rather than putting it off. I may even check out this book as I could use some work in this area for sure!

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