Understand & improve your money mindset: why it’s important that women start talking about our deeply held beliefs around money

Don’t buy crap you don’t need. Spend less than you make. Pay your bills on time. Save for a rainy day and retirement.

The mechanics of personal finance are pretty straight forward.

But if you’ve ever set any kind of money goals for yourself, you know that doing that stuff in practice is more complicated.

Because the stories you tell yourself limit your ability to take charge or your financial life.

You spend a lot of time stressing about stuff that really should be a non-issue – whether you realise it or not.

The key to a) feeling more abundant and b) actually becoming more abundant in your everyday life is in shifting your perspective around money and wealth.

You need to understand where your money-related struggles are rooted if you want to be able to move forward.

As you begin to recognise your belifs around money and gain knowledge of where your attitude towards wealth and abundance come from, you’ll gain more control of the journey you’re on.

Just like you can’t plan how to get to a destination if you don’t know what’s gonna take you there, you can’t design a future and a life for yourself with more abundance if you don’t first take inventory of where you’re coming from.

You’ll never arrive at a destination.

Instead you’ll just keep growing and changing.

How you progress along the journey is the goal.

What is a money mindset?

Your money mindset is made up of the beliefs you have about money and how money works in the world.

Basically, it’s your attitude about money.

But it’s also so much more than that.

Because your beliefs about money – which are usually subconscious – define what you can and cannot do with money.

How much money you believe you’re allowed, entitled and able to earn, how much you should and can spend on things, the way you leverage debt, how much money you give away, your ability to invest with confidence and success – all these are shaped by your money mindset.

Your mindset also shapes how you see other people – rich and poor.

Do you believe that rich people are shallow, selfish, greedy and materialistic? And therefore you’d never want to be like them?

Maybe you think it’s better to be poor because that means you’ll be humble, less wasteful and not too full of yourself?

Do you have to courage to ask yourself these questions?

How you handle yourself in financial conversations is another indication of your money mindset.

Does talking about money make you feel confident and in control? Or vulnerable and intimidated?

Are you comfortable asking questions and getting clarifications when making a big purchase, like a car or a house?

Or do you feel shy and embarrassed, like you’re gonna give yourself away if you ask too many questions about the terms of your loan?

Do you carry an unconscious belief inside you that says men take care of the money and women shouldn’t bother with it?

If you’ve opted out of dealing with the financial issues in the family, then you’ve outsourced the financial power over your own life to someone else.

What happens if that person stops doing that work for you? Or makes choices about money that you disagree with?

Or if you obsessively hunt for discounts and coupons and refuse to ever pay full price for anything, what does that say about how much you value yourself? Or how much you value the work of others?

What does it say about your level of trust in life?

The fascinating thing about your money mindset is that it’s shaped and defined by the core beliefs in your unconscious mind.

And those beliefs can be in the background, seeming almost dormant, but still run your life like you’re just a puppet on a string.

There aren’t right or wrong beliefs about money, they’re simply either supporting you in your growth or holding you back.

It’s only by becoming a keen observer of your own thoughts, feelings and physical reactions around money, wealth and abundance that you gain the awareness of where you are right now.

And only then can you chart a course to a more abundant life.

Because you can’t start a journey before you know where you are and where you want to go.

Where does your money mindset come from?

Children are wired to learn from the moment they’re born.

You observed and absorbed the attitudes around money that you experienced with your family, friends, community and other people around you (including TV and pop culture).

By seeing how people related to money, wealth and abundance, you naturally began to take on the same attitudes to fit in or fervently rejected them by rebelling against them.

Your core values are formed early in life and tend to stay the same.

If your parents fought about money – and didn’t explain what was going on in terms that you could understand – you may have interpreted that as “money causes problems” and you’d start to implement small shifts in your life that move you away from money and talking about it.

This might lead you to choose a career that you’re passionate about but barely pays the bills.

Or you might even be doing a job that pays well but you constantly undersell yourself, over-deliver and have poor boundaries around how much you’ve willing to give at your own expense.

It may lead you to become attracted to a partner that refuses to have money conversations or take responsibility for personal finances, accruing debt without limits and spending well beyond their means.

How did your parents talk about money?

Did they make snide remarks about rich people? Did they willingly pay taxes or gripe about the government meddling in their personal lives?

Was there enough money when you were growing up?

Or did your family struggle and how did your parents handle that? Divorce, illness, unemployment, social standing, death, poverty, bad money choices and other hardships lead to financial stress, tensions and a feeling of scarcity – that there’s never enough.

If you were born into a family that firmly believed that “people like us don’t get ahead” you’re probably carrying that unconscious belief and letting it affect your decisions.

When you’re the first one in your family to get higher education and access to higher-paying jobs, earning more than your parents ever did can make you feel really uncomfortable.

You may be holding yourself back from getting a raise or going after a better paying job because you worry that your friends and family will see you differently if you have more money.

Growing up in material comfort, with thoughtful and generous parents who spoke calmly and respectfully to each other and to other people also shapes your money mindset.

If your family was prosperous and well-to-do financially but your parents used money instead of being emotionally available – such as buying gifts when you’re upset rather than offering emotional support or motivating you to do simple tasks (like doing homework) with money – that has shaped your view of yourself and your money mindset.

The country and culture you grow up in, the historical era you live in, what size and shape family you have all affect your money mindset.

It’s not uncommon for the first-born child to be more used to limitations and lesser material wealth. As time passes and the parents become financially stable and prosperous, the younger siblings will never know what it was like to live in a small, cramped apartment because all they’ve ever experienced is the big, fancy house.

Changing your money mindset.

Altering your money mindset begins with awareness.

You need to start paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, habits and actions around money.

Because your thoughts and feelings about money influence your actions.

If you have a scarcity mindset around money, you’ll always feel like there’s never enough money.

Just thinking about money makes you stressed and anxious because you’re always thinking about how to make your income stretch to cover all your expenses.

And if someone in your family is financially frivolous, careless or makes financial mistakes, that’s a fight in the making.

A scarcity mindset around money will easily bleed into other things.

You may find yourself hoarding material posessions or money, and refusing to be generous with your money, posessions or even time.

On th eother hand, when you think that there’s more than enough money to go around, you’ll feel calmer and more optimistic.

You’ll be able to generously share and take chances with your money.

You’ll be in a better position to make investments and even to invest in yourself!

Allowing yourself to have nice things, like fresh-cut flowers of once-a-month massages, helping a family member when they need it, being able to buy that dream house or starting a business will all make you feel more empowered and in control of yourself and your fate.

Your money mindset has nothing to do with how much you make.

happy woman smiling between two colours

There are very wealthy people who live with a scarcity mindset, believing that there isn’t enough money to go around and that they have to hoard their wealth for a future “what if…” or feeling like they can never have enough and spend their life chasing more money and more material posessions.

There are also people of minimal means who feel abundant, blessed and wealthy on a bone-deep level.

And the rest of us are usually somewhere in between these two – making the best of what we’ve got.

As you become more aware of your beliefs around money, you’ll start to notice which ones are limiting your ability to make and have more wealth.

Believing that you don’t deserve more money, will stop you from feeling or acting more abundant.

And this is perfectly normal.

We all have our own, unique money blocks.

And they never go away: no matter how much you work on them.

Your past experiences define a lane in which you travel. And even when your financial situation changes – for better or worse – you’ll be challenged again and again by those same old beliefs and patterns to grow and change.

They’ll show up again, in different forms and variations, and if you’ve laid the groundwork for having an abundant money mindset, you’ll get better at dealing with them every time they come up.

Rich people aren’t free of money blocks.

They’ve just gotten better at dealing with them.

Your work is in constantly uncovering and releasing your money blocks, so that you can build a healthier and more confident relationship with your wealth.

Because, at its core, your mindset towards wealth is tied to how you value yourself.

If you fundamentally believe that everyone should be paid a fair wage for their work, you won’t baulk when a craftsman asks for (what may seem) a high price for their work.

And here I’m not speaking of artificially inflated prices, such as luxury brands charge for the sake of opulence and pomp, but of a product or serivce that was crafted with time, effor, skill and love. Because we can only have cheap things if we pay the people making them cheaply.

Wealthy people wanting to have something simply for the novelty or status of that thing is also rooted in a scarcity mindset.

Either they’re so wealthy that the only thing they can’t have in life are those that are unique or they’re seeking validation and approval by accessing that which cannot be gained in any other way, reaffirming that they as an individual have value and worth.

As an artist, I cannot ignore the relationship the arts have long had with ridiculously wealthy families and institutions.

A lot of the famous art and architecture that has survived to this day is because of wealthy patrons.

But very little of that is available for everyone to enjoy today. And the commissioning of it was often driven by the desire to show off wealth and power, rather than altruism.

But, I digress.

Exploring your limiting beliefs around money.

When you want to change your money mindset, the first thing to do is to examine your current beliefs around money.

Do any of these statements feel familiar to you?

  • I’m not good with money.
  • I’m not smart enough to make a lot of money.
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees.
  • I always make bad decisions with money.
  • I’m not good with numbers.
  • People in my field never make good money.
  • Poor people are hard-working and noble.
  • Rich people are shallow and selfish.
  • Everyone can’t have a lot of money.
  • People will see me differently if I have a lot of money.
  • I don’t deserve to get a raise.
  • Money burns a hole in my pocket.
  • I can’t hold on to money.
  • I can’t understand finance.

The way we reason our inability around money comes in many shapes and sizes.

You should also look back and see what your family money motto is becuase it will tell you a lot about how your mindset today was shaped.

Grab your journal and spend some time answering these questions:

  1. How did your mother talk about money?
  2. How did your father talk about money?
  3. How did your parents manage the household finances? How did they earn, spend and save?
  4. When money was discussed, what was the energy like? Calm and rational or tense and argumentative?
  5. Did you work as a teenager/young adult? Why or why not?
  6. Were you allowed to keep the money you earned or did you give it to your parents?
  7. How were you taught to budget and save money?

What does it all mean for you now?

The things you learned in childhood affect your attitude with money today.

  • When you get paid does it feel like the money is burning a hole in your pocket?
  • Do you feel like you need to get rid of it quickly so that you don’t have to deal with it?
  • Does it feel unsafe to hold on to large amounts of money without spending it?
  • How do you feel asking for money – such as negotiating a raise or invoicing a client?
  • Does asking for money make you tense up or relax into confidence?
  • Do you feel that you’re worth a certain amount of money and not a penny more?
  • Do you often say you’d love a large amount of money and then immediately trade down to “But I’ll be happy with… (maybe even less than half of what you initially said)?

You can rewrite your money story.

With a greater awareness of some of the limiting beliefs you carry about money and wealth, you can start changing your money mindset and transform your relationship with money.

We’ve all made mistakes with money that we want to kick ourselves for.

It’s all perfectly normal. It’s part and parcel of gaining financial maturity.

Mostly we aren’t taught a lot about money, at home or at school, so how would we learn if not through trial and error?

The best thing you can do is let go of your money mistakes and forgive yourself. You did the best you could at the time with the knowledge and experience you had.

Start by writing down 3-5 of your current money beliefs.

For instance, you might write:

  • I’m not good with money.
  • It’s not cool to be rich when there are so many people in the world who have much less than I do now.
  • I can’t make more money than my parents because they’ll think I see myself as better than them.

Now, take on one statement at a time. Cross it out and write why the opposite is true – and do it in present tense to let your subconscious mind absorb that this is your new reality.

  • I’m not good with money.
  • I have learned how to handle my money wisely and I’m now saving 10% of my salary every month and have a plan to get out of debt.
  • It’s not cool to be rich when there are so many people in the world who have much less than I do now.
  • With more money, I can donate more to charities helping those who have hit hard times. Right now I can’t give money but I can give my time so I’m volunteering once a month at a homeless shelter.
  • I can’t make more money than my parents because they’ll think I see myself as better than them.
  • My parents worked hard to make sure that I have a better education than they did so that I can have better career opportunities. My parents are proud that I’ve worked hard and made the most of the start in life they gave me.

Shift your money habits with small, incremental changes.

A good place to start is making a budget so that you know how much is coming in and going out every month. By tracking what you spend and comparing it to your budget will allow you to get an overview of what’s really going on with your money – and where you can make improvements!

If you’re averse to looking at your financial statements, start doing it. Even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Get used to looking at your money – and be grateful for what you do have, rather than focus on what you don’t have.

Start saving money. Use a visual savings method if that motivates you. You could start a savings jar to see the amount grow or you could use a savings tracker.

Make sure you save before you spend.

No waiting until the end of the month to see IF there’s anything left to save.

Save as soon as you get the money and then commit to only going into your savings if necessary. That way you’ll avoid a lot of the impulse purchases that are eating into your budget.

Your money mindset is made up of your conscious and unconscious thoughts and beliefs.

It’s not set in stone and how much you have or earn doesn’t reflect your worth as a person.

Since your beliefs reside in your mind, you also have the power to change the ones you don’t like. And it doesn’t matter where you were yesterday or a year ago, you choose to take control of your money habits every single day.

And remember; it’s a journey.

The ultimate goal is for you to enjoy a more abundant and confident relationship with your money, wealth and abundance.

Redefine how you value yourself.

When you want to do the deep inner work to increase your earning potential and break through your income plateau, take The Money Mindset Workshop.

It’s a course with real talk about money, that includes exercises and journaling prompts to help you completely transform how you think and feel, not just about money, but how you measure your own worth.

Click to read more (it’s FREE!)