Coming from a fairly low income family, I know what it means to develop bad money beliefs without even realizing it. In fact, starting in my teens, all the way through last year, I lived as a slave to bad money beliefs about myself, the world, and my jobs at the time. It wasn’t until this past year that I started working for myself as a freelance writer that I really healed my relationship with money, and my beliefs about money. In fact, I didn’t even know I had certain bad money beliefs until I read the book, “ Money, A Love Story” by Kate Northrup recently. Northrup is a popular author about money and finance for women, and she’s one of my current personal heros. After learning certain money beliefs that Northrup discusses in her book, along with realizing certain bad money beliefs I myself held, I realized I had to stop the madness and develop new beliefs. If you feel like you’re a slave to the paycheck and your bills, check yourself and make sure these bad money beliefs aren’t standing in your way of financial and mental freedom.
1. “I Can’t do This”
One of the first bad money beliefs I had about myself was, “I can’t do this,” or what really boiled down to “I don’t think I’m good enough to do this,” subconsciously. My entire teenage life, not having much of anything except money to buy a few clothes and food each week on my own paycheck always left me feeling less than everyone else. I didn’t mind working for my money at all, and in fact, loved the independence of it, but somehow, not ever having anything left over always made me feel poor. It spiraled into severe low self esteem about money and myself as I grew into an adult and I simply thought I was bad with money and I’d never make it. If you feel the same, realize that numbers are just numbers. It has nothing to do with your worth and you are more than capable of managing a budget and your finances.
2. “Money is Bad”
Another common belief I had about money, and one I still struggle with, is that the idea of money is evil. Now don’t get me wrong, I do think the world would be easier without it, but as Northrup points out in her book, money is simply a tool to exchange for something of worth. For example, your job. Your work is valuable to your boss and in exchange you get money. When you see something of worth at a store to buy for yourself, you are willing to trade money for that item. Money is a tool of trading- bottom line. Don’t see it as personal or a weapon against you. It’s simply a tool that’s used in the world for trading. Believing money is bad will constantly make you see budgeting and finances as evil and can cause you to make poor choices with your money as a result.
3. “Bills Stink”
Okay, sure bills are no fun, but they are a part of life and when you see them as something that is just as normal as having to take a bath, having to eat, or having to buy groceries, you see them as everyday tasks that allow us to live and provide a life for ourselves. Sure, bills do take away from fun shopping sprees, but they also allow us to have nice things that other people all over the world don’t. Want less bills? Have less credit cards and cut back to the minimum. Seeing bills as evil can make you procrastinate paying them and cause a bad relationship with your finances overall.
4. “My Debt Will Go Away One Day”
I’ve have believed this many times, for sure. If you have some idea in your head that says one day, all your money problems and debt will just go away, guess what? You’re wrong, and that’s a copout. Quit relying on winning the lottery, meeting a man to take care of your problems, or having your parents take care of it for you. As Northrup pointed out in her book, she didn’t mean to feel this way, but just hoped in the back of her mind her mom might take care of her problems one day. When she finally woke up and started paying for her debt herself, she was free of $20,000 worth of credit card debt in just six months. Take ownership of your debt, which is the first key to becoming financially successful and free.
5. "Paycheck to Paycheck Will do"
If you live believing that living paycheck to paycheck is good enough, you’re cutting yourself short of so many benefits in life. It can be easy to get bogged down from the week and just dwindle away our money out of stress, fatigue, and pretending our debt will go away somehow. Don’t live this way any longer! Start to tell yourself that your money is a tool for you to live. The more you make, the more living you can do. You don’t have to be rich to live better either, but having money in the bank account at the end of the week before you get paid should be a goal, not seeing it bottom out a couple days after you get your paycheck. Set up a small savings account and save $10 a week to get you in a better habit of not spending everything you have.
6. “Money Isn’t Tangible”
Many of us see money as something huge, not something tangible we have control over. I know I sure did. Sure, I knew I got paid each week, and I knew I had to make those dollars go towards bills, but I never really “got” the idea that money was a tangible tool. For instance, I realized I could use money to better my life just like I could a pot to cook with, a hammer to hang a picture with, or bike to exercise with. Money is a tangible tool you can either put to use or leave it “laying around in your garage” as I like to say. It’s not a mere idea you’ll get to someday or another. It’s real and it’s easy to gain control of when you see it as a simple, tangible tool in your life.
7. “Budgets Are Too Much Work”
How many of you only pay your bills when your cell alerts you to? No shame here, I used to be one of you. Talk about stress and not wanting to look at your phone each day! If you don’t live by a budget that’s embedded in your brain and somewhere as a document, you’re living erratically when it comes to money. You can make a budget and it doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, budgeting can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. My first successful budget was written on one of those old yellow legal pads and it got me through two months of my first financial planning success. Stop telling yourself budgets are evil and too hard. All you need to do is write out what you make, what you owe each month, work out payment due dates and plan your paychecks around that. Take any extra dollars and allocate them towards groceries throughout the month, along with gas or transportation expenses. Then, stick to your grocery budget and gas expenses, no matter what it takes. Those are your minimum things to pay. After that, everything else is a bonus. Budgets aren’t about what all you can’t have in the world. They’re about showing you how you’re going to pay strategically for all the things you’re privileged to have.
I know these money beliefs might not all apply to you, but I find these are the most common among women I know, especially women in their late teens to early 30s. If you’re in the same shoes as I was, I promise you can change your money beliefs. If you want to read Kate Northrup’s book, which I highly recommend for serious money help, you can find it online very inexpensively here: amazon.com. Do you have any of these money beliefs?