While we all learnt very quickly that money does not, in fact, grow on trees planted in our family backyards, there are still many unreliable beliefs about money and personal finance that ultimately hold us back. If you’re feeling frustrated about your relationship with money, you might need to reframe the way you see its purpose.
Here are 7 money mindset shifts you can make today that will allow you to regain control over your bank account.
MONEY MINDSET #1: “I don’t spend that much”
It’s easy to rationalise how much money you’ve got if you don’t keep track of where it’s going – especially if you prefer going cashless. Unless you’re reviewing your expenditure frequently – and who likes staring down a months-long bank statement, am I right? – you might find your spending habits, while perhaps not “that much”, still could be too much for what you’re currently earning.
NEW MINDSET: “I only spend within my means.”
- Define your financial goals. Do you want more money saved up for when you really need it? Do you wish you could afford a specific luxury item every now and then instead of surviving pay-check to pay-check?
- Track spending for a week, to test your old mindset. You’ll find that your money might be getting sucked up in ways you didn’t expect. Netflix and UberEats, anyone?
MONEY MINDSET #2: “Budgeting is too time-consuming”
Every financially successful person says a budget is the foundational tool every person should be using to control where their money goes. But it can feel overwhelming! How will you set up your budgeting system – will it be analog or digital? Will you pay someone, like YNAB, to help you set up, or will you try to do it yourself? Budgeting does require time, but perhaps not as much time as you think.
NEW MINDSET: “Budgeting helps me achieve my goals or stay in control of my life.”
- Download a budget template that will calculate your expenditure, and identify the areas you’re enjoying a little too much. There are plenty of budget templates online, like this one. You can save it to the cloud-based app of your choice for easy access.
- Schedule in recurring calendar blocks to track and adjust. You can either track as you go, or wait until the end of the week to review your bank statement and categorise your expenditure. By the time you get to the end of the month, you’ll already be itching to make some changes to your spending habits.
MONEY MINDSET #3: “I have to save ALL my money”
You think that your expenditure is so shot that you need to go from one extreme to the next. That the only way you can redeem yourself is by closing up shop. This all-or-nothing thinking might seem like the responsible reaction, but deprivation often backfires. In The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape encourages readers to put aside 10% of their weekly income to use on whatever splurge items they’d like. And he doesn’t stop there – he wants you to put another 10% towards a longer-term goal, like a holiday! Allow yourself some balance.
NEW MINDSET: “I live a balanced financial life.”
- Be grateful for what you have earned – you deserve to enjoy the returns of your work!
- Put aside 10% of your income each week, just for you. You can either buy yourself a gift each week, or finally start saving up for that luxury item you’ve got your eye on.
MONEY MINDSET #4: “I need this right now”
Our brains like to play tricks on us. Add to that the onslaught of advertising that homes in on our pain points, and we can be forgiven for thinking that if we don’t make a purchase now our lives will be worse off in some way. It’s a mental minefield you’re being asked to navigate, but if you want to see an increase in your savings, you’ll need to start vetting the items that capture your attention.
NEW MINDSET: “I want this right now, so it can wait.”
- Remind yourself that a need and a want are two different things. Is the thing you’re looking at vital for your survival? If not, put it on the want list.
- Set a time frame. If 30 days seems too long, try 3 days to a week. Create an alarm for the end of the period.
- Go about your busy life, and when the alarm goes off, decide if you still want the item. If you do, make sure you can genuinely afford it, and if not, start saving.
MONEY MINDSET #5: “It’s too hard to earn passive income”
This one can feel truer than the others, especially if you’ve never been exposed to first-hand success. But there are enough people who have become financially savvy and successfully earned passive income to warrant your trust in the concept. What you need to do is start investing – in knowledge! We have all the information we need, for free, at our fingertips.
NEW MINDSET: “I may not understand how to earn passive income but I can learn.”
- Block out 60 minutes one day this week, and Google passive income + success. Read the experiences of those who earn passive income, and look up the income reports of successful brands.
- Figure out the steps you can take to get from where you are to where you want to be, and break them down into manageable actions.
- Treat this experience like an experiment. Trial some methods, analyse your attempts, and pivot depending on the results.
MONEY MINDSET #6: “I hate paying bills”
I doubt there’d be too many people questioning this mindset. Who actually enjoys chopping up their hard-earned income and passing it on to various companies on a monthly basis? If we pause for a moment, we’ll see that not all expenses are equal. If you’re forking out for a streaming service you don’t use, except to scroll when bored, then yes – that’s a waste. Paying to keep yourself warm in the middle of winter, or stay connected to your loved ones online, is a different story.
NEW MINDSET: “I choose to pay these bills to provide [insert necessity here].”
- Start to look for the purpose of what you generally take for granted. There are valid reasons why you receive bills. Identify them and see your non-negotiable expenses in a different light.
- Consider alternatives. If you still cringe at how much your bills cost, research alternative, potentially cheaper service providers, or brainstorm ways to cut back on your usage. If you hate the frequency, see if you can gather enough money to pay an annual, often discounted, fee.
MONEY MINDSET #7: “Money is the root of all evil”
Ah, the mother of the money cliches. The popular usage of this phrase actually ignores its intended message: “For the love of money is the root of all of evil.” The original Biblical quote even explains why: because people in the past who have excessively loved money have gone against their principles, or caused deeper problems.
NEW MINDSET: “Money, when used sensibly, is a source of opportunity and connection.”
- Give yourself a reality check. Do you prioritise money over your relationships? The Minimalists have a great quote: “Love people, use things. The opposite never works.” Anything you desire is okay so long as the act of obtaining it doesn’t damage your relationships.
- If you have a problematic relationship with money, analyse its sources. Figure out the void you’re trying to fill. Look up better alternatives.
- Write down the positive results you might be working towards. Perhaps you want to feel that you can provide for your family, or access crucial services in an emergency. Maybe you want to give back more, or gift yourself a real chance to lead a life that makes you less stressed. All completely valid reasons for wanting to engage with money.
I truly believe that at our core, we want to connect, either directly with others, or with an idea (that is ultimately shared by other people, in turn making us feel less alone). So long as your desire for money does not bring with it the cost of your relationships, the wellbeing of others, or your own self-worth, you are not engaging in an evil practice.
QOTD: Which of these mindsets do you find yourself holding onto? Choose one and write down what you can do today to start shifting it.
Candy Zoccoli is a writer, editor, and English teacher passionate about the ways in which language inspires action in others. When she's not trying to win every escape room in her hometown of Melbourne, she blogs about her self-improvement journey at The Exhaustive Life.