Thinking about money can stir up all kinds of feelings; and not all of them are pleasant or positive. If you have a love/hate relationship with money, how you can best nurture a more positive money mindset?
In this article, you’ll find primary money beliefs, typical mindsets to unpack, and tips on how you can change the way you feel about more money.
As much as you might like to avoid it, money is an essential part of life. Maybe you have a tendency to overspend, ignore debts or bury your head in the sand? Whatever your negative money mindset is, the good news is that there are lots of things you can do to change it for the better and create a positive money mindset instead.
Understanding the 4 Primary Money Beliefs
Sonya Britt-Lutter and Brad Klontz are financial planning professors at Kansas State University. After years of research on money matters, they identified 4 primary money belief systems which are:
- Money Avoidance: If you avoid or ignore your financial obligations and lack of money, your problems won’t go away; in most cases, they’ll get worse.
- Money Status: Someone who views money as a status symbol very seldom finds true happiness. That person will always crave more money in the hopes that a higher perceived status can be achieved.
- Money Worship: If you worship money you can ruin relationships and engage in destructive, selfish behaviour.
- Money Vigilance: This 4th primary money belief system, is the one that most often leads to financial health and prosperity.
Those first three money belief systems are usually negative in nature, indeed, the findings that professors Klontz and Britt-Lutter uncovered reveal that money avoidance, money status and money worship “are linked to potentially destructive financial behaviours”.
The biggest obstacle to wealth is fear. People are afraid to think big, but if you think small, you’ll only achieve small things. – T. Harv Eker
Before you can become vigilant about money, you need to unpack the following negative money mindsets. These are very common and often lead to stress, self-hate and shame, arguments, broken relationships and even breakdown.
Negative Money Mindsets
Listed below are some common money mindsets. Which one(s) can you relate to?
- You Feel Uncomfortable about Money
You try to avoid talking about money. When you do, the words and phrases you use, including your thoughts, are negative in nature. You might think/say things like “Money is the root of all evil” or “Money doesn’t grow on trees” and feel that people who are rich are greedy or selfish in some way. Many of these beliefs come from childhood. Being cynical and uncomfortable about money matters can lead to financial problems.
- You Equate Money with Happiness
There’s an old saying ‘money can’t buy happiness’ and it’s true. Money can make life easier and give you more choice, but ultimately happiness and fulfilment comes from within. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking they’ll be happy when they reach a certain income level, but when they get there realise it’s not quite given them the happiness they expected.
- Spending Guilt
Money is a tool, a currency, an exchange, an energy. Use it to help create the reality you desire. It’s useless if you hoard it. You must have a healthy enough relationship with money to let it go as a way to pay for things that you value. If you feel guilty when you spend money, delve a little deeper and ask yourself why those feelings are coming up.
- Credit & Debt
Credit itself is not evil. Using credit cards can actually help to improve your credit rating when you pay it back on time, at the agreed amount (ideally higher than the minimum payment), especially when you are making big purchases, such as buying a new car or home. But when you frequently max out your credit cards and accumulate debts that you can no longer manage, it becomes a negative money mindset because you are not considering the impact of the debt and interest accrued.
- You Like to Spend, Spend, Spend
Are you constantly popping out your purse to buy stuff? Do you purchase new stationery, planners and books that you really can’t afford, when you already have a drawer full in your office that are just fine? You might also struggle with Shiny Object Syndrome, where you seem to be constantly distracted by the latest must-have technology or items. When you keep spending in spite of financial issues in your life, this is a lack of self-control. After the buzz of buying things has worn off, you might start to feel guilty or embarrassed.
- You Constantly Worry about Money
Worrying about money is one of the most common causes of stress for a lot of people and can cause chronic anxiety if money matters aren’t able to be managed, or aren’t improving. If you are someone who worries a lot anyway, but aren’t impacted too much by lack of money, try not to spend every minute of your life worrying over financial matters. When debt is making you feel anxious or depressed, get support as soon as possible. There are lots of great websites which offer confidential free advice and see your GP if you’re struggling to cope.
- You Believe Money is Scarce
Having a lack/scarcity mindset is the most crippling money mindset. If you believe money is hard to come by and you were meant to be poor… that’s the reality you will create and it’s a hard trap to pull yourself out of. When you see the world as more than capable to provide abundance in money and in other areas of your life, that is what you will experience. The truth is there are billions of dollars worth of transactions happening in the world right this second!
- You Think That “If Only I …”
“If only I had a million dollars, everything would be OK”…”If only I could just get a lottery win, things would work out”. Don’t place your belief system in money. Remember, money is just a tool, that’s all it is. It is not a vehicle that will magically make you a better, happier or more fulfilled person if you have “X” amount of it. The wanting/needing to be rescued by a lottery win or mysterious rich stranger is a common fear response, often down to negative past experiences.
- You Always Want More (Than Someone Else)
If you need more of something than someone else to be happy, you will never know true happiness. The money comparison game is an unhealthy money mindset because it never stops. You will always find people who have more than you, and the cycle continues.
- You Don’t Plan & Budget
The cornerstone of financial stress, poverty, need and unhappiness is a lack of planning. That means the opposite side of that coin is just a flip away. You can feel calmer about money and improve your financial wellness simply by planning.
Makes for uncomfortable reading doesn’t it? The most important thing to know is that it’s not your fault. Many of these money mindsets are due to negative past experiences and in some cases money related trauma. That being said, you can change things by taking responsibility; starting small and gradually taking more responsibility as you gain financial confidence. Be mindful of your well-being and if you feel that you need some support around money trauma, then find a qualified practitioner who can help you.
So how can you get started with changing your money mindset for the better?
The first thing to do is to get clear on your goals. Lacking financial health is often a case of not understanding where you want to be. You have to know and embrace your goals before you can achieve them.
Building Blocks & Goal Setting
Imagine you come across a man who is building something out of bricks. You ask him what he is building and he tells you, “I have no idea.” He is taking action, but his action has no direction. If that same man looked at an empty piece of property and visualised his dream home, then he could develop a plan to build that home, brick by brick. He could look ahead at what he wanted in the distant future, then break that big, seemingly Herculean task down into smaller, bite-sized steps. Then he would begin taking those steps one at a time. Eventually he would have his dream home built.
Ask yourself the following questions to help you create your financial goals and reality:
- Where do you want to be financially in a year, 3 years and 5 years? It can help to think of the ‘future you’ and break those goals down into days to make them feel more achievable and relevant. 3 years seems like so far away, but if you break it down into 1095 days, it somehow changes the dynamic
- What big vision do you have for your life and business? How much money do you need to make that reality? Work it ALL out. It can help to start small by simply doubling your current monthly survival income (the amount you need to pay all your bills, rent/mortgage, food, utilities, living expenses etc.) and then times the amount by 12 to get the annual amount. You might choose to then treble it…and then quadruple it…and so on!
- What do you need out of your cash flow for the next 7 days, the next 30 days and the next 90 days?
- What does your expenditure and bills look like? Are you underspending or overspending in certain areas?
- Is your income steady and reliable, or does it have ups and downs? (feast or famine)
- Do you know exactly what’s coming in and what’s going out each month?
- What makes you feel Wildly Abundant?
These are things you need to ask yourself so you can develop a goal-achieving game plan. It might seem time-consuming but by answering the above questions AND creating some kind of monitoring system, such as creating a basic spreadsheet or installing a money tracking app, you’ll soon be feeling so much more organised and positive about your financial goals.
Changing Your Perception
You’re probably reading this because you are unhappy with your current financial state and money mindset and know you need to make some changes. The first step to creating a positive wealth reality is to realise you are unhappy with your current situation – that alone is progress. Well done for having that awareness and taking the first step.
The problem is your current belief system about money is tied to your previous behaviours and experiences. In other words, if you want something you’ve never had, you need to think new thoughts and take different actions. Think of your current beliefs as being like a computer program in your brain which just keeps running and running. You need to reprogram your brain and create a new belief system so that a new, positive program runs.
Also remember that your personal worth as a human being has nothing to do with how much money you do or don’t have in the bank.
Nurturing Your Positive Money Mindset
Money is a tool; it’s joyful, it’s dynamic and it can do amazing things, for you and for others.
It can help relieve financial stress and pay for holidays and experiences. You can use money to donate to charitable causes and buy gifts for people you love. Money can be used to improve your quality of life and the lives of everyone you care about. That’s not to say that you have to waste your money on material things, but just think of all the great ways you can use this wealthy energy to make positive changes in your world. Be respectful of money and its energy, and release any resentment you feel about it.
Remember too, that you need to value yourself. If you keep listening to that negative inner voice telling you you’re worthless, you’ll soon start to believe it and that will impact on your value in business. This will lead to you making poor financial decisions, over-delivering and and selling things too cheaply.
Here are a some ways you can nurture your positive money mindset and improve your sense of value and worth in the process: (notice how the words ‘value and worth’ relate to money too; no wonder it’s hard to detach from negative money beliefs!).
- Gratitude: Express gratitude for the positive things you have used your money for in your life in the past…and make a habit of doing so from today onward – do this for every little penny you pick up, any unexpected income and your regular salary/incoming cash. In fact, be grateful for everything in your life right NOW. Make a commitment to practice gratitude every day and you’ll soon notice how abundant your life is.
- ‘Catch’ and question your thoughts: Begin to disrupt old thought patterns when it comes to money. If a negative thought comes up, ask yourself “is this really true?”. Try and dismantle old beliefs, breaking them down bit by bit and then create an alternative positive belief instead.
- Take a little time each day and love yourself: When you take regular time out for self-care, you’ll begin to value yourself more. Eventually you’ll be more confident in your skills as a business owner too and stop giving so much away for free or too cheaply. Value ‘you’ and all you have to offer – no one can replicate your essence and personality.
- Get comfortable with money: Value it, respect it and learn to love it. Make sure you budget and if you have debt, don’t ignore it. Be really brave and make some calls or send some emails to take control of the situation. It can help to have little money jars around your home and carry some cash in your purse so you get used to seeing it and feeling supported by money.
- Be happy for people with money: They earned it and they get to choose how they spend it however they like. If that is in any way triggering for you, then it’s time to be really honest with yourself and try and address the uncomfortable feelings coming up for you. After all, if they can win, that means you can win too! Try and reframe how you perceive people sharing their financial wins.
- Commit to your dreams: Make a vision (or action) board, set firm business and financial goals (and review them regularly), repeat affirmations and make your positive money mindset non-negotiable. It’s also well worth keeping a money journal so you can explore your relationship with money. You will have some bumps along the road, but keep your eyes on the prize.
- ‘Tap’ away your money blocks: Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping is a great way to uncover old beliefs about money which might be holding you back.
By building your self-worth and self-esteem, your confidence will grow and your fear of failure will start to disappear. Visualise what could be possible for you with your new positive money mindset. When you work hard to build your self-image in such a powerful and positive way, you’ll realise that you’ve been playing small and that you can achieve far more than you thought!
This positive self-image simultaneously reinforces smart and vigilant money beliefs. The more you respect yourself and love who you are, the more likely you are to embrace financial belief systems that can help you create the reality your new you deserves.
If you’d like to delve into money mindset a bit deeper, check out The Abundance Hub for some free resources.