This is week four of our self-talk series, so by now I hope that you have started to take notice of the negative messages that your mind can throw at you, and have been able to start to believe that you can change and create an empowering environment to facilitate that change. I saved this week’s topic for last partly because so many people struggle with it, but also because isn’t talking about money usually a taboo? Not around here!
Man, money. Finances. Accounts. Budgeting. Expenses. Just typing those words and thinking about them made me grimace. I’m not sure if it’s my former hatred of maths, or the years of societal conditioning, but there are some ingrained feelings about money! In my experience the best way to improve your relationship with money is to change your mindset and self-talk about it.
If you’re like most people, myself included, you probably have experience with feeling like there just isn’t enough money to go around to do all that you want to do. Rent, groceries, clothing, phone bills, car payments, and all the other expenses add up so quickly that most people (78% of the US population as of 2017) just barely manage to cover it all and make it to the next paycheck. Everyone has an opinion as to why this is, of course. Some blame the Millennials, or the Baby-Boomers, the government or the lack of government support, insurance companies, the uninsured, our employers, the unemployed, our kids, our parents, our spouses, the fact that it’s raining. We feel as though our needs and wants are not met and thus we are unhappy and look for someone or something to blame.
If you find yourself in this place, you are in the majority. No one makes it to adulthood without hearing or having some ridiculous and damaging thoughts about finances. If I think of the things that I used to believe about money and follow them through to their natural conclusions it is absolutely no wonder that I always found myself with $2 at the end of the month wishing I could go buy the things I wanted. I thought that buying nice things was frivolous, spending money on fancy meals or designer clothes was a waste. I only deserved to have clothes from thrift stores which was convenient because that was all that I believed that I could afford. I thought that “rich people” were snobs who got their money from shady deals and cheating their hardworking employees, and their kids were horrible people who didn’t deserve my respect. I thought that I did not deserve to experience too much joy in life (by spending money to experience things) because there were people throughout my country and the world who were in desperate need.
A few years ago, I read a book that made me realize that I could blame and feel angry and frustrated, but the real reason that I was unhappy in my financial situation was because of my mindset and self-talk around money. Blaming someone else, being frustrated at my situation and acting angry because I didn’t feel happy in my finances didn’t change things for me, changing my thoughts and language around my finances completely changed my life. I have a new dialect, new patterns, new expectations, and most importantly I know that I have the money to get all that I need.
BELIEVE THAT CHANGE IS POSSIBLE
As you know from the previous few weeks, the first step in changing your mindset and self-talk behaviors is to believe that change is possible. In order to experience a change in the way you feel about money and your financial situation you must first believe that it is possible for you to change these things independently. Not by winning the lottery, or inheriting an estate from some relative. You won’t change your financial picture by dating an accountant or get a new, higher paying job. People have tried. You know how long it takes the average person to spend all of their millions of lottery dollars? 70% lose or spend it ALL in five years. That’s not taxes or inflation. That’s pure, solid, mindset, and in order to overcome it, you have to change it.
You also have to believe that changing your self-talk around the dollars you earn and spend will change your situation. If you’ve been reading along with this series I’m hoping that you’ve implemented these strategies and are in a place now where you can acknowledge what your self-talk does to and for you! If not, try to take my word for it. You can check my wallet right now for proof…
CREATE AN EMPOWERING ENVIRONMENT
Here’s the deal. You have to get really honest with yourself about what you believe about money. You have to think about all of the messages that you have internalized about making money, who deserves money, how we get it, how it should be used, and what it means to have money. Get really honest about what you think about people who have nice things, and people who don’t, whether you operate from a mindset that says that there just isn’t enough to go around, or one that says that there is plenty.
Just like we have in the past weeks, once you know what you believe and tell yourself about finances, think through each one from thought to result in your life. For instance, I used to believe that it was wrong for me to spend money on certain more expensive things that I wanted because there were people in the world who desperately need resources. While this may seem noble, or accurate, if we take this apart what I am really saying is in spite of the fact that I give generously to charities and my church, I should not get too much enjoyment from my money, because there are people in the world who do not have the same opportunities that I do.
So, what’s the right amount of enjoyment to get from my money? A $5 burger’s worth, but not a $10 burger’s worth? Six pairs of kind of ill-fitting jeans that sag in the booty and were flood length when I bought them for $10 each, but not a $60 pair of jeans that fit comfortably and inspire confidence? Who decides the limit? Enough enjoyment that you are sort of happy, but not so much that if a child from the developing world saw you he would be jealous?
I nixed that belief and exchanged it for one more like “I am grateful for a job that pays me a good wage for my work. I should use this money to my maximum advantage, and buy the best quality I can for it.” And you know what? Now I own fewer things, of higher quality, and I am confident that they were not made by laborers paid an unfair wage and made to work in dangerous conditions. I now indulge in “expensive” chocolate and veggie burgers and organic yogurt from cows that were probably sung to at night, because it is good for my body, and I am grateful that God provides for me to take care of His amazing creation. And with all this spending more on things, I shop less and give even more to the causes that I love.
The self-talk that you are changing doesn’t have to be extreme. Even the most basic statement of “I can’t afford that!” can be changed to something that will move you toward your financial goals. Next time you see something that you want to purchase but don’t have the funds for at the moment try “I used my money for many other things that I needed and wanted. I budgeted my money for other things this month” or “I have the ability to buy that now, but it will be better for me to buy it later”. Because let’s be real, we say “can’t afford”, but make 100 purchases after that, or pull out the AmEx for shoes two days later. Create new beliefs that are honest and mirror where you would like to be in your life. “I have the funds that I need.” “I have been generously blessed.” “Money is a tool that I use for my benefit.” “There are more resources in the world than I could ever exhaust and I will find them.”
When you’re creating this environment for yourself be grateful for your money, however much you have. Acknowledge every dollar/euro/pound as powerful tool. And create some inner dialogue that matches those beliefs.
You have been given an incredible resource. Your mind. Use it to start growing and appreciating your other resources and watch them grow!
If this is an area in which you would like to continue to grow you must, must read Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Ecker. Regardless of whether you want to be a millionaire or find the very idea of being a millionaire repulsive, you will find immense value in working through the beliefs found in this book.