How Your Money Beliefs (Mis)Lead You
The problem: You’re smart and accomplished, you just can’t seem to get organized with your money, feel like you have enough, or get to the next financial level no matter how hard you’re working.
The science: Brain patterns built from old beliefs can block us. We carry into our adult lives money beliefs that we picked up as children. Many of them don’t help us succeed, and in fact, hinder our financial success. Often those money messages we picked up and have carried with us are generations-old because they got passed down without anyone realizing it. They become hard-wired patterns that we continually repeat.
The solution: Understand you have unconscious beliefs that hold you back. Try to get out of the grip of autopilot decisions by making every money and life decision purposeful, conscious and well thought-out.
How money behaviors affect us
Even though we know at least the basics of what we need to do to be financially secure and free, most of us don’t do it. Even those who hire financial planners to help them create a plan—even they have trouble sticking to their plan and saving.
Luckily for us there’s a been a flurry of research into why—no matter how smart and accomplished we may be—we can’t seem to get our financial stuff together.
Turns out it’s a mix of our deeply held beliefs about money (that our subconscious won’t easily let go of no matter how much older and wiser we get) and biases (glitches in how we humans think).
Imagine how frustrating it is to be a financial planner trying to help your client get on track and the client can’t seem to stick to the plan, and how frustrating for the client who really, really wants to.
So a father and son research team, Ted Kontz and Brad Klontz, of the consulting firm, Your Mental Wealth, did some in-depth research to help financial professionals figure out what self-limiting beliefs or money stories might be interfering with a client’s financial success.
They found that even with a plan, the old fears and beliefs that drive your decisions every day below your level of awareness persist. Of the people they surveyed, some were stressed about not having enough money while others were anxious about having too much or that they’d lose what they had. Some felt guilty about having more than others. Some people automatically distrusted and disliked anyone with money. Many spent money without thinking about their future.
Most people fell under one of these 4 money patterns:
Money Avoidance. Some people subconsciously distance themselves from money. They generally have a deep belief that money is stressful or bad in some way so they find ways to get rid of it. They overspend and rack up credit card debt. Even if they think they’re making headway (for example, they get a promotion or a windfall), something may happen that also pushes that added money out the door.
Money worship. They like to show off as a measure of status. They may have cars and houses and clothes and vacations they can’t afford. They believe that having more money will solve everything. They figure they’ll have more when it’s time to pay for it. They look for windfalls to step in and save them. They typically go into debt trying to impress people.
Money status. They believe their identity is tied to how much money they have. They take bigger financial risks and therefore can have bigger financial failures. They can go up and down–being uber-successful one year, then lose it all in a bad decision or business deal the next, build back up again and lose it again. They may never have a solid financial foundation.
Money vigilance. They’re careful about spending, and are good about socking money away. They’re typically more financially secure than others, but the downside is they can be too frugal and not enjoy the money they work hard for. They may not have high incomes but also typically don’t have credit card debt either.
Do you identify with any of these? Or parts of more than one? Maybe you know people who do. The important thing to remember is that your money persona is not set in stone. I used to be a money avoider, but did a complete 180 many years ago and become money vigilant.
To change your patterns, you just need to see the cause and effect. Your beliefs and thoughts drives your choices. And you have the power to change those beliefs. It’s just that before you see the connection, your choices can happen below your awareness.
So the key is to bring it into your awareness.
These 3 steps can help:
- Know your wildly important goal. This is more important than you might think. Most of us wing it with our choices every day, being reactive instead of proactive. Be proactive. Decide what you want your end goal to be, or as author Chris McChesney calls it, your Wildly Important Goal (WIG). (I love that). Make sure all of your most valuable resources—time, energy and money—are being funneled toward the things you want and not toward the things you don’t.
- Be purposefully present. I can tell you firsthand: Presence is your greatest power here. Stay conscious of every decision you make. Does it align with your goals? Does it align with who you are? Does it make you rich (inside and out) or poor? Make decisions with intention and purpose. If you let your subconscious make the decisions like it does all day on default, you won’t make much headway. Instead, take charge so you are consciously spending in ways that get you to creating financial stability and the life you want.
- Practice being money-savvy. That is, practice #2 above. Being present and intentional, putting every decision through those filters mentioned above. This is a build-your-muscles kind of thing. Practice making decisions that feel right for you and make you feel like you’re moving toward your goals at ALL times. (Okay, none of us are perfect. Some weeks or months you may feel like you fell back slightly and maybe for good reasons, I know I have. But jump back on and double up on your efforts). This practice, done repeatedly and consistently, can re-wire your brain. And you’ll soon see your progress reflected in your bank account and your life.
What is a money belief that holds you back? Let me know in the comments below.
And if you found this post helpful, please Like and share to help inspire others. Thank you for reading!