For the majority of my life I had a negative mindset about money, making money and saving money. But I had no idea how to change it or that it was even wrong. I wanted money, that’s for sure. Money was the cause of most of my stress, but I just couldn’t seem to get a handle on it. I know I wasn’t alone. In fact, America has hit an all time high in credit card debt; around 1 trillion dollars of debt to be exact. How can something we think about so often, something we want so badly have this negative affect on us? The truth is, like most workings of our mind, we just have to change the way we think about it. Finally, I feel like I’m at point where I finally have a healthy money mindset and it is not at all what I imagined it to be. There are steps and understandings I had to take to finally get a grip on my out of control money habits. So let’s talk about creating a healthy money mindset.
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First of all, let’s break it down into the top areas that a negative money mindset begins. When I first heard about some of these, I experienced those big “AHA” moments. Often times things can be so ingrained in us that we don’t think twice about them. These ideas are not meant to offend anyone or say for sure that these are where your personal thoughts may have originated. They are simply common suggestions.
Isn’t it so true that when deep down we are envious of a person, we tend to act out by cutting them down? You see someone with a more in-shape physique and you are either quick to tear them down or tear yourself down? This is also a common case with money. You see someone with a brand new car or who put in a new pool and you either wish you had what they have or you judge them for being materialistic. Neither of these are healthy options. Trust me, I’m totally guilty of them and it never got me anywhere.
Monkey see, money do (check out that word play)
Did you grow up in a home where money was tight or where credit card debt was just another bill? A lot of times people pick up money habits from their upbringing. If you heard mom and dad fighting about how money is tight, or watched them dig themselves into debt with purchase after purchase, you may have some learned bad habits. Personally, I know a common phrase I heard growing up (and then started saying myself) was, “We don’t have enough money for that.”
I definitely think I ingrained that phrase into our oldest daughter’s brain, which is why I’m now trying to make up for it by getting her started on healthy money habits at a young age. Now, when we really don’t have the funds for something I try to remind our kids that we do have money, we have plenty, and we are fortunate to have all that we have, we just have more important places to put our money.
Wealth = Selfish
Then there’s the mindset that those with money must be selfish money hoarders. How can they have so much while the rest of us have so little? They must be selfish. We tell ourselves that we never want to be selfish. I know I personally have dug myself into debt by buying things for other people in attempts to not be selfish. I wanted to give and share and do things for the people I love. But the thing is, racking up credit card debt for others is literally pouring from a totally empty cup…a cup that gets deeper and deeper and harder to fill!
Don’t get mad at me, Dave Ramsey said this in his Financial Peace University course that I’m taking. This was my “aha” moment. I grew up attending church services every single Sunday. Something I will never regret. Growing up with faith gave me a peace throughout the hard times in my life. But a lot was also mis-interpreted to me. I grew up hearing sayings like, “It’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven.” Then there are verses like this:
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Personally, I have more money saved than I ever used to. I talk about it more, I work for it more and yet, I love it a whole lot less. Rather than a love or a constant desire for it (like I used to have.) Every move I make with money is strategic, greed-less and done with wise intentions. You can be a billionaire and not love your money, or be broke as a joke and be totally obsessed with it. Something that never occurred to me before.
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When we get busy accumulating a negative mindset about money, we tend to overlook some seriously great things about it. I picked up the book, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth not really expecting to learn anything and within minutes was totally hooked. There were so many things that never occurred to me about money!
We need money
Well, that’s a given, right? But really…we need money for every single thing we want. If I were to make a list of the top three things I want out of life it would look something like this:
Travel is a given; I need money for that if I plan on doing it successfully. AKA not hitchhiking.
Giving. Well, duh, I need to have money if I plan on giving it right?
Lastly happiness and health for me and my children. In this aspect money can provide healthy food and good medical care if we need it. It can also keep us pretty happy if I can go into my future knowing that Tom and I, and our kids will be financially at peace. I’ve been through the money struggle game and I don’t want that for my kids and I don’t want it for me anymore either!
Money doesn’t have a brain
Money is a lifeless object with absolutely no mind or thought process. That means you are in charge! Money has no magical powers; it is simply currency that we used to obtain things. Don’t let it run you. You’re the boss. You tell that money where to go, when to go there and how much of it needs to go. You’ve got the power.
There is plenty to go around
There is about $1.2 trillion worth of cash floating around the good ‘ol USA these days. About 1% of the population is taking advantage of most of it. If you flip through magazines or watch TV and see how foolishly and selfishly some of these 1% are spending their money then let me tell you…you can take it back! If you have real plans that will add value to the world around you, then it’s time you got smart about your money so you can make it happen! Don’t ever think that there isn’t enough money to make your dreams come true. Even if that just means saving enough for an easy retirement. There is $1.2 trillion…get yours.
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It’s made to be shared
In case you haven’t heard me say this 8,000 times, then here it is: When an act of giving or kindness is done the serotonin (happy) levels increase in the person who does the good deed. It feels good to share what we’ve got, whether that be money, talents or time. The serotonin levels also increase in the person who is on the receiving end and any person who happens to see the act of kindness take place. The point is, everyone wins when you give. The problem is, it’s hard to give with a happy heart when you are stressed to the max about money. This is why it is crucial to get smart with your money so that you can give freely and happily. Spread the wealth. I used to hoard money like crazy because I felt like I never had enough. Now, I give more freely than ever because I’ve flipped my mindset about it – – and I took smart financial steps in the right direction.
It’s all good, because there are easy things you can do that will help you change your way of thinking.
Make a list
Start your mind switch by making a list of all the things you want the most out of life. Go ahead and just let it all pour out onto the paper.
After you’ve gotten written down all the thing you want the most, take the time to cross some stuff off. Once you get it all out, it becomes easier to cross off the things that just aren’t as important. Once you’ve got your list narrowed down, take the time to number things from 1-10 so you know your top 0 biggest priorities.
Now that you have your priorities written down, take a look at your monthly spending and see what things you may be spending money on that don’t align with your priorities. Don’t slack on this step. If your top priority is to get in shape, don’t try to justify $200 worth of new yoga pants that you know you’re only wearing around the house!
Saving is not wasting
Personally, I know that when I was putting money into savings, it was painful knowing there was money there that I could easily access and spend. It felt like I was robbing myself. It’s so important to remember that saving money is still for you. Let go of any pull you feel to spend it. A great way to do this is to get a savings account that is separate from your regular bank preferably one that’s tough to get at. Set up automatic transfers and then just steer clear. You are not depriving yourself of spending money. You are building for your future and for the things you really want out of life.
Practice delayed gratification
When we first moved into our house, there were several big purchases that I didn’t buy. Normally, when we’d moved, I would grab my credit card and go shopping for whatever new things I felt like we needed. This time, I saved, and I waited. For months we didn’t have a TV stand. Our living room looked so empty with the TV attached to the wall and nothing but wires underneath it.
We also didn’t have bar stools for our center island in the kitchen. Our kitchen table only had 4 seats, which meant there wasn’t enough for our family of 5. Bar stools would definitely have come in handy. I waited, and saved and when I was finally able to afford those stools, I was happier than I had ever been with any purchase I had ever made. I really felt like I had earned them. The anticipation of getting closer and closer to my goal was a great thrill and a very proud moment.
There’s a difference between hoarding and abundance
Like I said, money can conquer anyone who lets it. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. There are those who hoard their money, who don’t share it with anyone and use it only for their own personal gain. That’s no way to live your life or spend your money. Abundance is a far different thing. Abundance is a cup that overflows and spills into the lives of other people. So as you start to save, be sure to keep your heart and intentions in the right place.
Be patient with yourself. Keep your priorities in mind. Remember you will have set backs, you’ll make mistakes, but if you can stick with smart money choices, you will absolutely be glad that you did.
Renee is the blogger behind The Fun Sized Life. After downsizing with her family, she also took the time to get serious about he finances. Now she is sharing the wealth with all of her readers.