Think positive and all will be well – is that how you approach your finances? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. And yet it makes perfect sense to examine your own approach to money. Why you think like you do and what you can change by looking at things in a different way – as well as what you can’t change, of course.
The first stage in getting to grips with your finances is to ask questions. Yes, that also means asking yourself questions. Like what kind of relationship do you have with money and how do you feel about that? If you can answer these simple questions, you will have a better idea of your own money mindset and a better feel for your relationship with money. This is crucial in deciding whether you are genuinely motivated to go any further.
What do I think about money?
If your own money mindset is built on negative statements such as “I’m terrible with money”, “I will never be well-off” or “Money is a dirty word”, you really have no incentive to think about saving or putting money aside for your old-age pension. Because you’ve already made your mind up: there’s no point.
But if you can persuade yourself to rethink and revisit the questions honestly – Is that really true? Does it always have to be that way? And where will that get me? – you’re already part of the way there. Don’t forget, attitudes to money are not set in stone.
How does your money mindset come about?
There may be a number of factors behind your money mindset. One very important factor, other than your current financial situation, is your social upbringing. In other words, if you want to understand why you talk, think or treat money like you do, it may be helpful to consider the following questions: what was the financial situation at home when I was a child? What does society tell women about their relationship with money, for example? Or perhaps I was bad at maths when I was at school many moons ago and that’s why I always assume I’m hopeless with figures?
Or perhaps I can only see countless examples from the world of industry or politics where money tends to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution? When you think like that, it’s easier to think there’s no right way thought the money maze without losing your way even more. Which most certainly isn’t true: here at Tomorrow we are living proof that every day is indeed another day.
So what can lead to a positive money mindset?
Our background and our experiences are just as critical for our money mindset as our current financial situation. However, there’s no reason why they should dictate what happens in the future. This is the whole point about a money mindset: it doesn’t actually solve any problems or (structural) challenges, but it can help you deal with these issues in a different way. Or indeed deal with them at all. As the saying goes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And you certainly don’t learn from the experience.
One thing’s for sure, you definitely don’t need to be a maths genius or to have studied business to be able to handle your own finances. There are ways and means and a huge amount of clear and concise information that can help shed light on the subject in next to no time. Even for those who really don’t “do” figures.
Then again, there’s the fact that money can also bring about a positive change of direction if you put it to proper use. It’s much more important to ask yourself what effect (your own) money has on your life. And whether you are happy to go along with that, or whether you’d like things to change?
Nor should you forget that you don’t need to start with very much money to be able to save for your future.
Reviewing and taking stock of your own attitude to money can lead to new ways of thinking and open up new opportunities. But you have to be prepared to wave goodbye to beliefs that will only hold you back. Those beliefs may only become apparent when you answer a few key questions:
What are the first three statements that come to mind when I think of money?
What do these statements say about my relationship with money?
Where do I think these statements come from?
Are these statements appropriate to my current situation and to what I know (about myself)?
Would I like to change these statements or am I happy with them as they are?
What would change if I could move on from these statements?
What would I like to be able to say about money instead of repeating these statements?
What would it take for me to believe that these new statements could be a good fit for me?
Money mindset: change your tune!
The answers you have given will suggest your next step. For example, just change the way you think about money:
1. I want to be able to do this and I can!
2. I have earned this.
3. Money can lead to good things, both for me and for positive change – and now I’m going to make sure it does exactly that.
Not as simple as it sounds? That’s very true. Simply saying motivational statements out loud isn’t enough. You really have to believe in them. But this takes time: you have to really get to grips with the questions in the checklist and it’s important you take the time to do that. Perhaps you can sit down with friends and have a frank discussion about the whole subject? Once you are clear in your mind, then, and only then, can you start to change your behaviour. Otherwise it’s just not going to work.
Do you want to give it a go? Right then, so set a date this week, grab the checklist and take the plunge! Because there are no rights or wrongs – apart from putting the whole thing off until another day…