If you have made your way to this page, you, like so many others, feel smothered by debt. If you are anything like I was, you may even find yourself nearly having a panic attack thinking about finances.
Not so long ago, I remember when an emergency reared its ugly head, like the heat pump going out in the winter, my mind would not only go to the absolute worst case and EXPENSIVE scenario, but my chest would tighten, my heart would race, my cheeks and ears would literally burn, my stomach would get a non stop dropping feeling, and I would feel as if all of these sensations would meld slowly throughout my entire body and I had to remind myself to breathe.
I’d not even know the extent of damage before I’d debate which credit card I’d have to use if I didn’t get paid right away. My mind would jump from which has the most available to which has the lowest interest rate, after all, I knew this could be a gigantic money hole.
I am here to tell all of you, the financial free spirit, the mildly concerned, the overly concerned, the panic stricken deer in the headlight overly concerned, and all of those in between that there is hope!
The first thing you absolutely must realize is that your mindset has a lot to do with how you use and view money. A lot of how you use and view money has to do with how you were introduced to and watched money be utilized growing up.
I was in my mid 30’s before I was introduced to actual legit money management. My best friend, overly excited about paying off a bill, began to tell me about this guy named “Dave Ramsey.”
In the back of my mind, I’m thinking that my friend had absolutely lost her mind. Who is this dude named “Dave Ramsey,” and is this a fad? Even worse, am I about to lose my friend to a cult?
Don’t laugh at me, seriously, my friend is the most genuine and loving person I know, and I knew if this cat, Ramsey, could get her to buy all his books, videos, and whatever else he had for sale, he could get her to buy other stuff and eventually she would just throw away all her hard earned money.
Oh yes, I am the skeptic of skeptics and with her excitement over paying off ONE bill, something was up, and I wasn’t letting her become a cult member and lose all her money. My investigation skills, err, interrogation skills went into overdrive and boy did I become more confused than before.
This guy had sensible and super easy advice, so why did I feel like my best friend was getting ready to get snatched from reality?
Looking back, the answer is simple, it was because of my money mindset.
What is Money Mindset?
As simple as this sounds, it is how you feel about money and how you think about money. There isn’t any magic or voodoo behind it, just simply how you relate to money.
Were you raised with issues surrounding money? Did your family even talk about money around you? Did you often overhear arguments about money?
Did you always hear “we don’t have the money for that?” Did you ever see your parents or family sit down to actually pay bills? Did you see how credit cards or cash was used?
It isn’t always how you were raised, either. Sometimes it is the company you keep or the hearsay of what other smart money savvy people do. It is so hard to say this is not a good way of doing things when people look happy or talk about their success with money doing certain things.
Do you get credit card offers that offer 0% APR for 6 months and your mind immediately goes to what could you put on it and for how long? I could transfer this balance to that card and this balance to that one!
I used to think that way too. I would sit down and waste my time calculating out the fees associated with transferring this to that and so on based on the APR.
Granted it is what I “thought” was right at the time, but I never questioned WHY I thought it was right. I just assumed it was because that’s what money savvy people do, right? My friends and family did it, and they are so much better at math than I am.
Boy was my cult indoctrinated friend getting ready to bust my fairytale money mindset wide open.
I also thought loans were great. If I get a loan for this, I can get this discount and that discount and then, if I take out a second mortgage, I can write off certain things on taxes!
Granted, depending on where you live now, tax write offs for certain loans may be a thing of the past depending on how much you spend, but it was a serious deal to me.
Again, why? I just assumed that’s what money savvy people do because I’ve always heard about it.
I never thought twice about using a credit card in between paychecks. The problem was that I would forget to pay the balance or I would end up making something else a priority and pay the minimum payment required to prolong the agony of debt. Either way, I’d be hit with a crazy finance charge or late fee.
So my $25.00 purchase would end up being a $25.00 purchase and a $25.00 donation for being late paying the minimum balance! I would call and get those fees waived as much as I could, but in the end it really wasn’t worth it.
Once I learned a little more about credit cards and how much hassle they were, I began paying them off one by one and canceling them. Here are some tips to pay off your cards.
Were you one of those that heard arguments over money? Do you remember anything coming from it other than red faces and everyone walking on eggshells? It makes it so easy to think money is the root of all evil.
Do you know how to compromise? Do you know how to decide on what is vital to survive versus what’s merely a want?
Let me tell you this, I at least had this one down pat. This whole toilet paper shortage made me laugh this year. I have some serious stomach issues as well so I use toilet paper quite a bit.
My coworkers on the other hand are sort of free spirits when it comes to survival items. They thought I was absolutely bonkers when I told them I had to use newspapers to wipe my tooshie when I was a kid, and I would do it again if I had to.
One of these individuals also considers cable, matching branded attire, and satellite radio necessities. This absolutely drives me mad. Especially when we talk about trying to slash expenses and I hear some of the most ridiculous excuses.
Thankfully, we don’t discuss it too much anymore, but boy do I have to bite my tongue if the topic comes up.
This is another part of your mindset, do you really need all that you have, or is a mere convenience that you’ve grown accustomed to?
Common Misconceptions and Myths about Money
Have you ever heard that money makes people show their true colors? Sadly, it does for some. There are those however, that make their money work for them. They are the ones that have learned lessons along the way and have learned the value in not only money, but in life.
Some of the misconceptions about money have been beaten into your minds as truth. It’s actually quite sad, and when I first began learning about money management and mindset, I can not tell you how brainwashed I felt!
The worst part of feeling brainwashed was that I knew what I should and shouldn’t be spending my money on.
I realized that by watching television, listening to the radio, seeing social media posts, and looking at advertisements, I, of all people (I consider myself quite an independent thinker), was swayed to spend, spend, spend, and I didn’t even realize it. It is beaten into your head and reinforced E V E R Y W H E R E!
- You have to have or spend money to make money. This in itself is a big pile of what my daughter would call, poop! Not the actual sentiment, but just poop. She likes to say poop. The sheer truth to the matter is that you have to manage money to keep money. The fact that some people make money from money is typically something they do long after learning to manage and KEEP their money. If you are a small business, check this post out from Zoho on this exact topic.
- I have to have experience in X,Y,Z to make money. Again, poop, I say! How do you think people gained experience to begin with? You have to try new things to experience them. Stop being an old fuddy dud and go get your hands dirty.
- I NEED that. Um, no you don’t. As matter of fact, you really just need oxygen and food. I know! I know! There are other things that you may really need, but by watching television, media, and other outlets, they make you think you really need that watermelon peach pheromone shimmer lip gloss.
Sometimes the impressions beaten into your mind dig quite a bit deeper than the mainstream media. Sometimes these impressions are formed from close family and friends making you feel less than or making things look to be grand because they bought A,B,C. Oh yeah, and sometimes personal failures make you misinterpret the truth on what you can and can’t do.
- I’ll always be in debt. Come on! Seriously? If you keep thinking that and sit on your hind end and keep buying junk and paying for junk you don’t need, you absolutely will! Nearly ALL of us are guilty or have been guilty of spending and not being conscious of where our hard earned money is going.
I for one am the queen of putting the auto renewal on and KNOWING I will magically remember to cancel it. It took me a while to realize I’m not a magnificent magician, I’m a magnificent forgetter. I need fifteen reminders in two separate spots and a smack or two in the face. I can not get that extra 3% off to subscribe to auto renew.
- I’m not good with money. This is a cop out. You do not need to be an award winning mathematician that can do advanced algebraic geometry with a specialty in E=MC² of econometric algorithms of statistics. You, either, do not manage your money or are too overwhelmed to even try. Oh, for those math professors out there, I just randomly put together math words, please don’t judge, cause I am far from mathematician status! Ha!
- I need this because of A, B, or C. I added this one to personal as well because in essence you are who you spend most of your time with! My husband loves man toys. If one of his friends gets something new and improved, you can bet your bottom he has already found it, inspected it, and sniffed the dang thing. I’m thankful he doesn’t just rush out and buy stuff (well, all the time anyway) and it gives me time to attempt to redirect.
Change Your Money Mindset, Now, don’t Wait!
It may not be a piece of cake to change your money mindset, but boy will it taste good when you get rolling. This is why my friend was so excited when she paid off that bill that rendered me speechless and wondering if she entered into some sort of whacky cult.
So to get started here are some of the most helpful tips I’ve learned from the best along the way.
Envision the Future
Seriously, what do you want in your future? Have you ever sat down to daydream about your future? If not, it is high time for you to do so. This is part of the bigger picture that will help you not only change your mindset, but give you some much needed encouragement to change your mindset… AND future.
Don’t worry about looking a little coo coo as you sit with your cup of java or drink of choice smiling off into la la land. People do it all the time, and most of them really aren’t thinking of their future, they are enjoying the breeze, the silence, the calm, or a little too much booze, maybe? I don’t know. What I do know, is who cares? Not me, and you shouldn’t either. Again, this is an important part of the process.
Personally I used to have a hard time envisioning the future. Mainly because I always think of what I want then the brakes start squealing as I throw up roadblock after roadblock. Try to imagine that there are absolutely no roadblocks. What then? Believe it or not, if you follow some of these simple steps, road blocks quickly disappear.
Do you see yourself managing your own business that you built from the ground up? Do you see yourself traveling with your children for travel sports? Do you see yourself on the beach or in the mountains rocking in a rocking chair for retirement? Do you see yourself in retirement just enjoying watching your grandchildren play in the yard? Do you see yourself retiring early?
This is just as important as daydreaming and envisioning your future. You need, yes, NEED, to set goals! When you set these goals, write them down. The chances of completing goals when you have them written down actually go up.
In fact, the reasons behind writing goals down are much more in depth than just a higher success rate. Management 3.0 states that if you write goals down it triggers your brain in beneficial ways such as:
- Increasing motivation
- Improving focus
- Reducing stress
- Achieving bigger goals
- Tracking progress
Stop Self Sabotaging
Stop the naysaying! Stop the constant belittling of yourself. You know you do it! I know you do it! We all do it, and we are all better than that. I have to constantly keep myself in check with this.
Not only for financial fitness, but for emotional fitness. It is unfortunately something people resort to when they are feeling guilty for spending that extra money, for eating those extra calories or for spending hours in a fitting room for zilch.
When you resort to belittling yourself you are not encouraging yourself. Have you ever heard the sayings “You gotta get back up, dust yourself off, and try again” or “Get back on the horse?”
Of course you have, those words are much more than just old sayings, they have a proven accuracy!
Believe it or not, practicing gratitude daily and many times a day allows you to recognize what you have, and how truly blessed you are. I recall someone saying (I believe it was Joyce Meyer), you can show gratitude for anything.
Cleaning the house gets aggravating but you can show gratitude because you have a house to clean. Washing the dishes is a time consuming and sometimes yucky chore, but you can be thankful because you have dishes to wash and food to have eaten to put in the dishes.
Those are some truly deep examples, but also think about the fact that if you have electricity and a vehicle how blessed you are, those seem to just be expected by many.
When I get into a foul mood, I don’t always do this quickly enough, but I have noticed if I do this as soon as possible, that is showing gratitude in the moments of distress, the stress seems to melt little by little.
Now, don’t just show gratitude in moments of distress, but all the time. It becomes second nature if you do it daily and often.
Expressing gratitude not only helps emotionally, but it sets you up for success when it comes to differentiating between things you need and things you want. Learn more about how practicing gratitude can mean better finances and emotional wellbeing as well from Workable Wealth.
Now this is the part that people generally hate. Sometimes the first words out of their mouth is, I stink at budgeting!
Remember the part in setting goals that says “have a plan?” That applies to budgeting as well. When you first start budgeting, legit budgeting that is, expect to spend a little time. You should also expect to find out a good bit about yourself and your household members as well.
Oh, the part about “write it down” applies as well. A lot of people have gone to managing finances by merely watching their accounts. Seriously! STOP that! It’s convenient to be able to look at your account, but when you just “gander” that really is all you do. You don’t tell your money where to go. It just goes!
Check this out to get a running start for budgeting for beginners, you will not be sorry. It also gives you free worksheets to help you get started and understand the process. It will make it so much less difficult and you won’t be kicking yourself in the butt for it… well, other than when you realize where your money is actually going. You can definitely correct that though!
Know your Needs Versus Wants
Okay, so here is a topic that can be so controversial. The problem here is that companies, businesses, media, and even friends themselves have pushed so many products onto people that you feel it’s just expected to have this or that.
Dave Ramsey sounds bananas when he talks about being in serious debt and getting out in a short time frame by selling so much stuff that the kids think they are next, or eating beans and rice or rice and beans!
His purpose is being aggressive with the goal of getting out of debt. I feel I should also mention that selling stuff is a great way to earn extra money, especially since Americans have way too much stuff! Did you know NBC reported that it is estimated that the average American home has 30,000 items!
Stew on that for a minute! You could probably create a second career just selling unused items in your home!
Getting back to needs versus wants. What are your true needs? A roof over your head, electricity, food, and things that you absolutely must have to survive. Do you need a car worth $40,000? No. Do you need a $2,000 reliable car to get you to work that doesn’t drain your bank account of $600+ dollars a month while you are working to get out of debt? Maybe so!
Do you need brand name clothes? No. Do you need clothes? Yes. Do you need the brand name foods or will the off brands work?
I know some people have special dietary needs but if that is not you, get over it. If you expect to have the best of the best when you are in debt, you will always be in debt.
Now, I want to talk about the Jones’ for a minute. Are you trying to keep up with them? If so, please say this out loud “I need a (insert item that your best friend has) because (insert name of best friend) has one.
Again, did you realize you just said something that your five year old would say? Stop keeping up with your friends. You don’t need that sports car because Billy Bob or Bonnie Sue has it.
That’s their debt to keep up with, not yours. If you keep playing the “keeping up with the Jones’ game,” you will find you will accumulate junk that makes you feel bad for getting it and feel bad for paying for it.
This doesn’t mean don’t get things you would like, it means be intentional. If your goal is to get out of debt, get out of debt, then plan for whatever you’d like. Save the money for it first then the feeling is grand when you can actually purchase something you truly want without feeling the guilt of how you’re going to pay for it.
This is a wonderful way to change your mindset about money. Be content with what you have. Do you have a car that runs and gets you from point A to point B? Do you have a home in a safe area that has a sturdy roof? Do you have running water and electricity?
Yes, this falls back into showing gratitude, but it all blends together when appreciating what you have and being content with it.
Chances are, you also have items that many other households may not. Do you have a smartphone, a television, a game station, techy electronics, an ipad or tablet, heck a security system you don’t even use?
Give yourself Grace
We all make mistakes and have lapses in judgement, especially when we start new things. Please be sure to give yourself some grace. There isn’t any room for beating yourself up over and over for mistakes.
Learn from it, plan on a way to kick its hind end out to the curb if you can, and move on with your newfound appreciation of money.
Make your Money Work for you
This goes back to budgeting, one of the most vital money mindset game changers. You will learn what you have, what you need to get rid of, what you need to do, and how to plan for your money and how to make that money go to what it NEEDS to go to, not what you want it to go to.
REMEMBER, you Must Start Somewhere!
I’ve said this before and I must say it again, WE ALL MUST START SOMEWHERE! The start line and finish line will be different for everyone, but we all must start somewhere.
So, get out there, find your starting line and make those goals and plans to get to that finish line!!
You, my friend, can do this. I don’t care what the Jones’ are doing! This is YOUR world, no one else’s, own it!