When it comes to managing your money, there’s the typical ‘spend less’ and ‘save more’ advice. Those tactics work but there may be something even more important to work on: your money mindset. Why? Your thoughts create your feelings and behavior. All of us grew up with various money scripts we were programmed with by our friends, family and culture but it might not actually be good for us. When I was paying off debt, I had to shift my money mindset and stop thinking “student loans are good debt” and had to stop thinking things like “rich people are greedy”. Shifting your money mindset isn’t easy and takes practice but here’s what you can do.
1. The three-word exercise
If you want to know where your money mindset is at, there’s a great three-word exercise. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think of money? Do it without thinking much so you can really see where your mindset is.
The words may be a range, such as power, anxiety, choice, freedom, poverty, greed, and more. Once you have the three words down, look at the words. Are they positive or negative? If they’re negative, step back a little. Money is just a tool but we put all these thoughts and feelings onto it. Give your money a break! Ask yourself where those ideas originally came from. You want to dig deeper into why those words came up for you.
Then, you can write down the three words you want to think about money. For example, it could be freedom, choice, and security. Write a post-it with those three words and keep it around your house. You want to reprogram your brain so it can shift.
2. Write your money story
Everyone has a money story and you want to know what is yours. What are you currently struggling with when it comes to money? What are you working toward and what areas of resistance do you have? What thinking patterns do you have around money? What were the messages you got as a child from your parents that may affect your money mindset?
For example, maybe your parents always said “Money doesn’t grow on trees” or “Money is the root of all evil”. Those are pretty charged statements that seem harmless but can have an affect on your money mindset.
3. Track your mood
Managing money 101 is all about tracking your expenses and sticking with a budget. You track your money, but why not track your mood when you spend money? Getting your money mindset right is also about spending on your values and what’s actually important to you.
To make sure you’re spending on your values, track your expenses for 30 days with a journal. Next to each purchase write how you felt afterward. Were you triggered to spend because you had a bad day? Did you end up buying something in the moment that you really didn’t need? It’s good to know where our money is going but also how we’re feeling about the purchases we make.
You can use a numerical system 1 to 10, happy face or sad face, or take long form notes. But I’m a huge advocate of tracking your mood as well as your money.
4. Use mantras
Mantras can seem a bit woo-woo but really they’re good for trying to cement new ideas in your brain. Remember, you’re trying to shift your money mindset and it won’t happen overnight and it’s a practice.
One of the mantras I use when I start to feel anxious about money is something I got from entrepreneur Marie Forleo. She always says, “There’s always more where that came from.” in regards to money. Saying that helps you focus on the abundance and possibility rather than fear and lack.
You can say or write down these statements:
- I attract money
- I have everything I need
- Money is a tool, not good or bad
- I love money because [insert your reasons]
Of course you can come up with your own mantras as well. What are positive phrases that you can repeat or write down to get them ingrained in your mind? It may seem silly at first, but give it a try for at least a week.
5. Focus on mindfulness and gratitude
A lot of money mindset issues can be around pain from previous experiences or anxiety around future events. One way to shift your mindset is to incorporate mindfulness and focus on the now. At this moment you are safe with food and shelter, correct?
On top of that, focus on gratitude and what you already have. When you have a scarcity mindset around money, you might feel like you don’t have enough and stay focused and obsessing about what you don’t have.
Instead, focus on what you do have. Take an inventory of all the great things money has bought you. For me, it’s shelter, food, the ability to travel (pre-COVID), and having new experiences. I am grateful for all of that now and it helps reframe my mind.
End each day with three things you’re grateful for. Do this for at least a week and I’m positive you’ll see a shift.
6. Read books
To shift your money mindset, you want to start reading books that can fill your brain with new information. I recommend “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin as well as “You Are a Badass At Making Money” by Jen Sincero. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill is also a classic. By reading books, you can consume new stories about money that get you to your desired money mindset.
7. Think of your future self
You want to know which money mindset shifts you need to make. So I want you to think of what your future self thinks about money. What have they achieved? How do they interact with money? What beliefs about money do they have?
Then, start acting like your future self now. Start shifting your thoughts by asking yourself “What would my future self think?” and slowly start to adopt new attitudes and a mindset about money.
Money mindset is a complicated topic as we have been conditioned in so many ways to believe certain things about money. Though you may not have had a say in what your original money beliefs are, you have the power to change them now. Using these seven steps you can work toward improving your money mindset and your financial life.