How often do you hear people say “I’m so bad with money!”
Do you say that yourself?
It makes me sad to hear that phrase. Do people really think there is nothing they can do about it, no way to change their circumstances? What a sad world that would be!
I think anyone can change their money habits. But how? By examining your money mindset.
The Money Mindset
A mindset is defined asmoney mindset is your attitude or inclination towards money.
We all have different money mindsets. The question is, do you have a positive money mindset or a negative one?
When you think about money, do you see opportunity and a way to increase your freedom? Or do you cringe from the stress that word brings?
I think we can all develop positive money mindsets, no matter our background or circumstances. But before we talk about the “how”, let’s examine the “why”. Why do you have a positive or negative money mindset to begin with?
Nature vs. Nurture
My husband and I have always been good with money. We were both savers, rather than spenders. But this was/is not the case with our parents and most of our siblings.
I grew up in an upper-middle-class family and lived a pretty charmed life. My dad was the king of Keeping Up with the Joneses’. I had a cell phone and iPod years before any of my friends, and received a brand-new car when I was 16. We often ate out 2-3 meals a day and went on at least 2-3 family vacations every year. Frankly, I grew up spoiled.
But my parents were very wise in other areas. I was NEVER just handed cash to go to the mall. I was expected to work hard for my allowance and babysitting money. My mom had so many entrepreneurial ventures (some successful, others not) that I couldn’t even name them all. My dad was a very hard worker and quickly climbed the corporate ladder. My mom loves to brag about a bargain and taught me from a very young age that there are many ways to get things at a discount.
My husband did not lead the charmed life that I did. Raised by a single mother who was working as a nurse and going to school full-time, his family did not have money to spare. He was never handed the latest iPod or game system, but had to earn the money for them himself. He was creative with his money, at one point buying a van for $1, driving it around for months, spray painting the entire thing, and then selling it for $1,000.
But on the flip side, his family was obsessed with name brand clothing and shoes, where my family couldn’t have cared less.
So we both observed some good money habits from our parents, but with equal, if not greater, exposure to bad money habits. So was it nurture that made us this way? Maybe to some degree.
But I think we were both born to be “good with money”, born with positive money mindsets. I’m sure it can be attributed to a personality trait(s), but I think we magnified our success with a little bit of extra positivity.
I have always believed that I would have money as an adult. The feeling got even stronger when I married my husband. I felt that we were destined for something bigger. That we would never want for money.
I hope that doesn’t sound conceited because I’m trying to illustrate a point. Am I well-to-do because I was putting those good feelings out into the universe for my whole life? Or am I flourishing because I worked hard trying to make those positive thoughts a reality?
A lot of my success can definitely be traced to my hard work. But I was also very lucky in many of my opportunities. I like to think that because I was positive, I was more open to opportunities. And because I was given those opportunities, I worked my butt off to take full advantage and show appreciation, which then opened me up to even more.
I have always had a positive money mindset and that has led to a happy life, not one marred by constant marital disputes over money, or stress that I can’t pay my bills.
Listen, I’m the first one to admit when I am bad at things. I am terrible at any and all sports, and will readily tell anyone that. But I have no desire or plan to change that. Getting better at sports does not matter to me.
But can you imagine if it did? If I really wanted to get better at basketball but was telling people that I’m a terrible basketball player? Is that helping my confidence at all? Is that putting positivity out into the universe? No.
My mom used to counsel me on positive thinking all the time. She said that if I wanted to get a job, I should change the way I thought about myself or the situation. Going into the interview, I should think that I am perfect for the job, and they’d be lucky to have me. And sure enough, when I did this, no matter how inadequate or nervous I felt on the inside, I would come across as a very confident person.
There’s a really good lesson here: By pretending to be confident in myself, I was gaining actual confidence in myself. So why couldn’t you do that with money too?
If you walk around thinking that you are terrible with money, you will be terrible with money. But, what if you start to think of yourself as good with money? Or, even better, that you attract money. How different would your life be?
The Responsibility is Yours
It comes down to this: Whether you were born with a positive money mindset or not, you can change it. Whether your parents taught you all the right money lessons or not, you can still nurture a positive money mindset. The most important contributor to your money mindset is you. You can choose to have a positive mindset, or a negative one.
Feeling bad for yourself because you are not good with numbers and feel completely overwhelmed by the thought of your finances is not helpful. Blaming your parents for teaching you terrible money habits is not helpful. Telling yourself, and others, that you are just not good with money is not helpful.
Setting that all aside and telling yourself that you are good with money (no matter how you actually feel) may start to change your life. It may open you up to participate in workplace conversations about 401(k) allocations. It may trigger you to second guess some of your purchases. It may make you appear confident in an interview, which may open you up to a job that pays much more.
Your money mindset is important. Don’t let it weigh you down. It should be lifting you up to a better, brighter future.