When someone tells me, “I hate money,” I instinctively ask, “why?”
So why do you hate money?
Like everything else, money is neither good, nor bad. It just is.
It’s true that money has been behind limitless stress and anxiety, and that it’s paid for countless terrible things. But it’s also responsible for tons of wonderful things, and provides people with freedom, flexibility, and options.
If you feel you hate money, it’s my goal to help you change your thinking. That’s because I don’t see any practical value in hating money. I see only negative consequences.
And I’m speaking from professional experience and personal. Throughout this post, I’ll share my personal financial struggles and how I overcame them.
Also know that my feelings and perspective have been informed through helping a lot of people get better at money over the course of my 20+ year career as a financial advisor. I’m also honored to be named to Investopedia’s list of the top 100 financial advisors many years running.
I’m going to make my case for why you should change your thinking about money, and give you some actionable tips for how you can immediately get better at managing it.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The danger of limiting beliefs
- Changing negative beliefs to positive
- Actionable tips
Let’s get started.
The danger of limiting beliefs
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford
If you think you’re bad with money, you’re probably going to be bad with money. If you think you’re going to suck at swimming, you’re probably going to be a lousy swimmer. These are examples of self-fulfilling prophecies that happen when you act out a false belief, making it real.
How has thinking that you hate money benefited you?
How has it hurt you?
More importantly, where do you think that belief came from?
Just like our smartphones, we all have operating systems that are constantly running in the background. Our beliefs are a big part of that operating system, and we have them for most every aspect of our lives.
Many of these beliefs were passed down through DNA, or were downloaded to us when we were kids. I’ve been able to trace my limiting financial beliefs back to when I was little.
I grew up in N. Minnesota in a middle-class household, raised by a single mom who was a schoolteacher. There was never enough money.
Once a month, my mom would “pay bills.” That meant she’d spend a Sunday afternoon with our household bills spread out all over the dining room table. This was an incredibly stressful time, and my brother and I knew to stay out of her way.
Because of this, and similar other experiences, I developed a scarcity mindset around money, as well as a desire to avoid it. As a young adult, that manifested through not paying attention to my spending, not keeping a budget, living paycheck-to-paycheck, and being in and out of credit card debt.
So how do you know what your beliefs are about money? Fill in the blanks below without thinking too deeply about your answers:
- People with money are __________
- Money makes people __________
- I’d have more money if __________
- My parents thought money would __________
- In my family, money caused __________
- Money equals __________
- If I had money, I’d __________
- If I could afford it, I’d __________
- Money is __________
- Money causes __________
- Having money is not __________
- In order to have more money, I’d need to __________
- When I have money, I usually __________
- I think money __________
- People think money __________
What do you think? Do you have any limiting beliefs about money?
If yes, what can you do?
Changing negative beliefs to positive
Here’s the good news; it’s possible to rewire your brain. You can get rid of negative and limiting beliefs and replace them with positive ones.
According to Verywell Mind, neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience.
The trick is to pay attention to your behaviors, and to notice yourself engaging in limiting or damaging behaviors. When you catch yourself, work to trace it back to the earliest experiences. The more you’re able to notice and catch your behaviors, the faster you’ll be able to nip them in the bud.
On a podcast I did with Psychologist Jamie Lerner. She talked about how we need to stop arguing for our limitations. She said that our pasts do not define us, and that they certainly don’t determine our futures.
If you can implement these three tips, I truly believe you’ll be positioned for long-term financial success. Think about in terms of Olympic medals- gold, silver and bronze.
The gold medal of personal finance tips is, “Pay yourself first.”
The opposite of this is paying everyone else first and waiting till the end of the month to pay yourself. If you’ve ever done this, you find yourself living paycheck-to-paycheck. You also discover there’s rarely any money left over for you.
When you make the decision to start paying yourself first, you make yourself and your financial goals the priority; which is where they should be.
You start paying yourself first by doing the following things:
- Set up a savings account and begin making automatic transfers into it at the beginning of every month. This is a great way to create your emergency fund.
- Enroll in your company’s 401(k) plan and begin making automatic contributions. This is a great way to start saving for your retirement.
- If you don’t have access to a 401(k), you can open an IRA and set up automatic contributions to happen at the beginning of every month. This is also a great way to save for your retirement.
- Set up a taxable brokerage account and begin making automatic contributions at the beginning of every month. This is a great way to save and invest for financial priorities outside of retirement.
The silver medal of personal finance is, “Stay out of debt.”
Just as you used to hate money, I hate credit card debt. It burdens us and prevents us from going after other, far more important goals and objectives. It causes stress and damages relationships.
If you’re in credit card debt, one of your top priorities should be getting out of it. The first step is to write down all your balances, the interest rates, and minimum monthly payments. From there, you can develop a plan for paying them off.
In service of helping you get out of credit card debt, you can access our Get Out of Debt course for free.
The bronze medal of personal finance is, “Diversify.”
As investors, we often take on too much risk. New platforms and apps like Robinhood have increased interest level in investing, but results have been terrible for investors. That’s because it’s not wise to put more than 5% of your net worth in any single concentrated investment like an individual stock.
We diversify by investing in vehicles like mutual funds and ETFs (exchange traded funds). For example, one of the most popular investments in the world is an S&P 500 ETF (Standard and Poors 500). When you invest here, you own a small piece of the 500 biggest companies in the United States. So instead of buying an individual stock and owning one share of one company, you buy one share of the S&P 500 and own a small piece of 500 companies.
That is a low-cost and simple way to take a diversified approach to investing.
To get a better understanding of what kind of investor you are, you can access our Risk Profile.
Putting those three tips in place will position you for long-term financial success.
One of the greatest human attributes is our ability to recognize when our thinking is flawed, and our ability to change our minds.
Think critically about your thinking. What if the opposite of what you believe about money is true?
Now, I’m not saying you should start loving money. Rather, I’m advocating you look at it for what it is; a tool for helping you get what you want in life.
You’re someone who is capable of financial success. You got this.
If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, check out our DIY Financial Plan course.
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