How to Start to Improve Your Money Mindset
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Even the most organized, in command people – the kind you see levitating down the street, bright and bouncy and blessed – could probably have their confidence shaken when it comes to MONEY.
For many of us, our relationship with spending, saving and planning is steeped in drama. We want money, but we don’t want to want it. It’s so much fun to spend, but we know we need to save…
No matter how much you have, money struggles can feel like a lot.
If you're freaked out that there are things about money you just haven't quite mastered yet, take heart: there's room for improvement! How to start? Acknowledge exactly where you are (and what you don't know).
You can give yourself a chance to think a little differently. You can unpack your attitudes about money and bring your fears out from the shadows. Start here, and (maybe) stop feeling so guilty about all of it.
There are many reasons why your relationship with money might be a little strained.
#1 We don’t talk about money very much.
Money (saving it, spending it, wanting more or having just enough) is not a typical dinnertime conversation topic. Why? We might say the wrong thing. We might pry into someone’s personal business too much, if we ask honest questions. We might be scared to find out the truth. Even if we can talk to our closest friends and confidantes about everything under the sun – talking about money might still feel taboo.
#2 We don’t talk about it honestly.
We see tips in magazines and on blogs (take your coffee to work instead of buying it!) that are fine, but that don’t often speak to the deeper reality of our financial lives. Did you know that 61% of Americans say they couldn’t handle a $1000 unexpected expense with money from their personal savings? Another report (from 2016) takes that percentage even higher, saying 69% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings and 34% have no savings at all.
So, although the version of everyone’s lives you see on social media looks pretty good, let’s face it: not everyone is swimming in cash. Let’s be real about that.
#3 We weren’t taught about it.
Where did you learn your financial skills, beyond (maybe) balancing a checkbook? Did someone teach you, or did you just sort of pick certain things up along the way?
Maybe we’ve read articles or a book once. Maybe we have a wise friend we can ask questions to and model our own financial lives after. Or maybe we don’t. And it’s just some sort of miracle we’ve been able to get by, after all of these years.
Just like other areas of our lives (romantic relationships, health stuff), let’s be grateful that we have gotten by, but let’s also acknowledge that we can learn how to do this better.
#4 Money touches lots of deep topics.
Values, worth, dreams, goals. Self-control, expectations, shame. Past, present & future. All are very heavy topics, and money has a tendency to touch all of them. Lucky us, right?!
#5 Many people win when you spend.
There are countless billion dollar industries are out there just dying to get a chunk of your change. Whether it’s $10 a month for a subscription service, a new sofa or piece of technology, they all win when you buy! Their companies do better, for sure, and many times the execs at the corporate level get performance bonuses that are built into their contracts. So, they literally get more when your bank account has less.
If you’re not vigilant, most aspects of your waking life could be up for sale. The kind of coffee you drink in the morning. Where products are placed on store shelves. The gazillion emails that hit your inbox, with promotional offers. If you think about how many times you’re advertised to each day, it’s really shocking.
Turning away from the marketing noise and knowing how to deal with your own internal shopping urges (and the dopamine that’s produced when you buy something new) is an art form all to itself.
#6 Your money situation changes frequently.
You may be in a good situation with your finances and then – boom. A life change. It’s life, so something’s always going to change! Which means you must be able to shift and reorient yourself.
Your life stage (whether you have kids or not, whether you own or rent, your current health situation and so forth) also makes it more challenging to access and rely on readily available information about saving, spending and money life skills. Everyone’s situation is a bit different, which is another reason why the one-size-fits-all articles and books might feel like they don’t apply to you. No one has your unique money blueprint, so it can be a little tricky to find the right techniques that work for you.
So what do we do now?
The Start. step is all about awareness, so it’s not about changing anything at the moment.
It’s definitely not about beating yourself up about things you may have done in the past or things you wish you’d learned but haven’t yet.
Try to drop the shame and anxiety.
Start to give yourself a break, unpack your attitudes about money first, and you’ll be better equipped to address the real life steps needed to create a plan and reach your goals, when you’re ready.
See how one professional organizer helped get her family's financial life on track and download the tool she uses – for free!