Too many people dream of having more. Far too few take simple, practical steps to alter their financial future.
I too, at one stage in my life, resented rich people who seemed to have it all. I bemoaned the fact that I was born on the wrong side of the tracks. Other people were born lucky, I reasoned. I was doomed to be one of the unlucky ones.
I didn’t know how much these subconscious (false) beliefs would dictate my financial reality. My core belief was: “I am poor. I don’t have enough.” So when I did get money, it burned a hole through my bank account quick enough for me to sustain the lie.
In a previous post, I shared about how my low self-esteem made shopping my drug of choice. Yet no matter how pretty the pants or how exorbitant the splurge, the shopper-high would shift to regret in a matter of hours (explains why Confessions of a Shopaholic felt like my life was on the big screen).
My financial picture didn’t start changing until I started changing my inner picture. I’ve always thought of myself as bad with managing money. I believed (although I never said it out loud) that I don’t deserve a good salary. No one sat me down and seared these negative thoughts in my brain through hours of endless torture.
Poverty is punishment enough.
My current financial reality is light years ahead of what I could barely dream of a few years ago. I no longer own a credit card, I am not making new debt and am actively working towards creating a debt-free future for myself and my husband. We are able to give money every month to people and causes that we care about. All of this would not have been possible without key mindset shifts regarding my money beliefs. Here’s a few that have helped me get to this point.
1. I’M creating my own financial reality
Your current financial status is a result of nature versus nurture. Environmental influences, coupled with amount of exposure to differing economic possibilities, have intermingled with your personal beliefs. Your inner beliefs dictate every single choice you make – whether you are consciously aware of them or not.
We don’t need to be a slave to the way things are. We can take charge of our financial future – just like any other area of our lives. Passivity is the devil when it comes to determining your financial path.
Before I get hate mail, hear me out. I also grew up “poor”. I felt that I was doomed to struggle in the same way as the people around me. The limitations that we have – financial or otherwise – are the ones we enforce.
When you grow up poor, you begin to believe that you’re stuck that way. Rich people were the lucky ones, I thought. Some are just born with it; others just have to learn to do without it.
Recognizing the inner beliefs that have influenced your thinking as you were growing up is a first step towards recreating your current reality. The people who are successful in the way they manage their money, their relationships and their life, needed to make conscious decisions about altering faulty beliefs in each area.
External change (like winning the lottery) is not going to be what brings a breakthrough in your life. It is going to be many, consistent mind shifts that will chip away at the reality you don’t like and taking the right action that come from right beliefs that will ultimately bring about long-term changes.
2. Money isn’t evil
This deep rooted belief took me a while to uncover.
When you feel like you have limited options in life, the easiest thing to do is to ‘blame’ those who have more than you. You may have started life in a low income family but you are not doomed to a life of struggle.
There are many examples of people who grow up in adversity and yet triumph against the odds and walk their own path to success. Why is one bitter and the other better?
It comes down to personal belief systems.
If you believe that money is evil, then you also believe (even though you might not say it out loud) that people who have money are evil too. Popular culture both worships people with money and warns against worshipping money.
Money makes you more of what you already are.
If you are a kind person, with a generous soul and already give to others, then you will most likely continue along the same bent when you get more money. If you are always assessing situations to determine what’s in it for you, then even when you get more, no amount of more will ever be enough.
3. It’s OK for me to have more money
One of your subconscious beliefs may revolve around societal norms that we are not consciously aware of. Certain races are perceived to belong to a particular class, and it might be difficult to break out of that limiting belief if it is not challenged.
I used to believe that I wasn’t good with money. In fact, that I wasn’t good at anything. And deep, deep down – that I wasn’t good. So how could I be trusted with more money if I didn’t trust myself?
This distrust manifested in many ways. I would close down clothing accounts, only to open them again a few months later, ignoring the sickening feeling in my stomach. I would sign up for a new credit card, feeling a sense of self-loathing as I signed for it.
I was simply living down to my low belief about my financial acumen. The scary thing was that I felt entirely and completely stuck. Like there was no other option for me and this is was the reality that I was doomed to live in.
In one way, at that stage, it wasn’t ok for me to have more money because I wasn’t properly managing what I had. I was mismanaging not just my money but my life as well.
I am beginning to trust myself a little more each month, although I still have a way to go. I will always be growing in this area – but I am no longer defined by it. Which brings me to the next mindset shift.
4. If I can improve my money management, I can manage my life better
The most amazing consequence of addressing my dismal financial state has been slow change and progress in other areas of my life too.
I used to believe that I was terrible at admin but this year I surprised myself by how organized I actually was when it was time to submit all the paperwork for the tax return.
Only after six months after saying our vows, hubby and I sat down and did a budget together. We’re following Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” (http://bit.ly/2czbWFL) and we’ve definitely made significant strides with getting our debt snowball going.
I’m learning a golden life rule that I may have heard wise people talk about – but disqualified myself from that possibility: that if you can budget your money (and keep to it), you can free your life.
Exercising restraint in one area of my life, means that I am able to mirror positive changes in other areas. Seeing that I am able to change my self-proclaimed maladministration of personal funds bolters my confidence to address limiting mindsets in other areas too!
5. My worth is not equal to my bank account
In my head and heart, for many years, I believed that rich people (people who have the finer things in life) have better lives (and are in essence – better people) than people who have a dearth of material possessions.
This false belief was probably reinforced by my life experiences and circumstances and it’s not something I really interrogated until recently. Because I always felt ‘not enough’, I put myself in the poor quadrant. And believe me, when you don’t believe that you have intrinsic worth, you don’t feel like you have a voice. You tend to accept the status quo because you can’t really see many options.
Discovering my true spiritual identity and understanding my value as a child of God has helped my separate my value as a person from my bank balance. I used to need money. I needed money to make me feel like I wasn’t poor (so that plastic helped me pretend that I had enough). I needed money to make me feel pretty (so I kept putting clothes and shoes onto my store and credit cards). I needed money to make me feel needed (so I would buy things for the people I loved – not because they asked me but because I needed to be needed).
I don’t need money for those things anymore.
I am learning that money is a tool for the life I want to live. Instead of being driven in maddening cycles of futility and frustration, I am now being led into a larger view of my life. One that is driven by purpose instead. I now see money as a mechanism to enable the highest goals for my life.
As my core beliefs have altered, so too has my experience of money. I am no longer defined (or doomed) by it. I am now able to define its use and functionality in my life. And if I can start my journey towards being a money genius, so can you!