Guide to Improving Your Money Mindset

By Ashley Kilroy · December 15, 2022 · 9 minute read

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Guide to Improving Your Money Mindset

Achieving your financial goals in life isn’t just about how much you earn; it’s also about your money mindset. Some of our most deeply held beliefs are about money. Do you talk about money and seek to enhance your knowledge? Do you think of yourself as a spender or a saver? What does financial success look like to you? The answers to these questions all reflect our money mindset. Changing these ideas can be challenging but worth it.

To create a solid financial future, it’s essential to have a strong, positive money mindset. So, if your financial habits need a little (or a lot of) work, here’s how to change your money mindset. Read on to learn:

•   What is a money mindset?

•   What is a negative money mindset?

•   How can I change my money mindset?

•   Why is reshaping my money mindset important?

What Is a Money Mindset?

Your money mindset is your approach to handling money. It determines your spending and saving habits as well as your motivations for your financial management.

Whether you are aware of it or not, everyone has a money mindset — a collection of beliefs starting from childhood that shape what you do with your money. (Your money mindset could even be, “I never think or talk about money.”)

Your money mindset can lead to both positive and negative financial decisions.

For example, have you automated your savings, transferring cash out of your paycheck first and budgeting with the remainder? Or do you think saving isn’t something you need to or can focus on just yet? Do you use a budget? Can you treat yourself occasionally, or is buying a $5 coffee not a part of your financial plan? Your money mindset characterizes your relationship with money, and so it is essential to understand and possibly tweak it.

What Is a Negative Money Mindset?

A negative money mindset is a set of unhelpful financial beliefs that can lead to poor resource management. It often involves a constant feeling of stress or guilt regarding money or simply disorganization. It may also involve the belief that “if I just made more money, things would change or all my problems would be solved.” While a higher salary or inheritance might help you toward your financial goals, having more money won’t change your financial mindset.

While it may seem counterintuitive, your income level doesn’t automatically determine your sense of financial freedom. Additionally, it’s worth noting that your money mindset exists whether you’re conscious of how it influences your behavior or not.

Here are some examples of the ways in which a negative money mindset might have a bad influence on your life:

•   You might spend too much money due to comparison with others. You see a friend or colleague renting a pricey apartment and think you should too. That can be an aspect of lifestyle creep, in which your spending increases as your income grows, preventing you from saving and acquiring assets.

•   You might not save for long-term goals, like a house or retirement, because your parents never wanted to talk about money when you were growing up.

•   Because money stresses you out, you might fail to set financial goals, like paying off your student loans on time.

If it feels like you’re in this negative zone when it comes to your finances, know that you are not saddled with it for life. We’ll explore how to develop a money mindset that’s more positive and productive later in this article.

How Your Beliefs on Money Affect Your Finances

Your primary, most powerful beliefs about money most likely come from your parents and your childhood. Every child absorbs financial beliefs from the most influential people in their life. Then, as you grow older and begin handling money, they live out those financial beliefs, for better or worse.

For example, if your parents modeled money as a way to pamper yourself, you may find that you impulse-shop when life becomes challenging. Your money mindset is that spending equals financial self-care.

On the other hand, you may have a reputation among your friends as “cheap” because you grew up in a penny-pinching household that considered luxuries a waste of money. In both cases, your money mindset puts your financial habits into motion.

These examples underscore that children tend to mimic the behaviors of their parents and adopt their money habits in their own adult life.

Why Reshaping Your Money Mindset Is Important

It’s crucial to address negative money mindsets. Otherwise, you’ll likely continue to act on the same faulty beliefs. For example, you might realize that your parents’ approach to money made a lasting impact because you always feel uneasy when treating yourself. Conversely, you might struggle to control your spending because none of your family or friends ever follows a budget.

Recognizing an unproductive facet of your money mindset gives you the power to change it. By asking yourself questions about how you currently treat your money and how you’d like to change, you can reorient yourself and create a long-term financial plan. In fact, reshaping your money mindset may include setting financial goals for the first time in your life.

By changing your money mindset you can take full control of your finances, break bad spending habits, and reach your financial goals.

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How to Change Your Money Mindset

So, you might wonder, exactly how can you change your mindset about money? While your upbringing and core experiences impact you in significant ways, you have the ability to recast your money mindset or create an all-new one. When reshaping your money mindset, the following tips can help you transform unhelpful financial behaviors into life-changing, literally enriching habits.

Success With Money Is a Possibility

One key to changing your money mindset is to increase your confidence in your abilities. Don’t count yourself out because of your background or financial circumstances — it’s possible to change these patterns.

Whether you’re working up the courage to sit down and make a beginner’s budget, tackle lingering debts, or give yourself permission to make a fun but totally unnecessary purchase, believing it’s possible is crucial for your success. Perhaps saying affirmations will help you, or maybe reading about others who have attained what you are dreaming of will work best. The right technique is a personal decision.

Understanding Why You Feel This Way

Money is emotional for everyone. Feeling anxious, worried, or excited about your money is normal. Our emotions are rooted in beliefs; therefore, you might feel elated or stressed on payday depending on the beliefs you’re associating with your money. You might crave the feeling of going shopping or you might wake up in the middle of the night worried about your car payments.

Delving into how much money you have coming in and going out may help you better manage your funds. If you have a financial plan that allows you to sock money away and also treat yourself a few times a month, getting paid might create feelings of satisfaction or confidence. Hence, your money mindset is creating positive emotions for you. However, if your paycheck reminds you of your mounting bills, it’s probably time to identify where these feelings are coming from. This way, you can start shifting your money mindset to elevate the stress and anxiety.

Additionally, the more you avoid money, the more intimidating it can feel. Even people with plenty of income might run from figuring out their living expenses because it sparks negative emotions.

Avoid Comparing Yourself to Peers or Social Media Standards

Parent’s aren’t the only ones who influence your money mindset. Peers and mainstream culture send messages about what success looks like or how to best manage your money.

Seeing what others do or think as irrelevant to your money mindset. What works for someone else may or may not work for you, especially if you have different goals. Plenty of general financial principles are worth adhering to, but even those aren’t set in stone. For example, there are many different types of budgeting methods, including the 50/30/20 budget rule. Therefore, it’s wise to understand your own financial situation and find solutions that work for you to improve your money mindset. Even if your twin sibling swears by a certain tactic, it may not be right for you, and that’s okay.

Overcoming Your Financial Fears

Change can be scary, and so can money, so cut yourself some slack if you’re afraid of changing your money mindset. It can be comfortable to settle back into the familiar, even when it’s not working.

However, overcoming financial anxiety and developing a positive money mindset is possible. Forge ahead at your own pace, and explore your money mindset. What are the things that worry you about money? Where are your biggest fears coming from?

As you unpack that, remind yourself of your motivation to change. Keep your goals at the forefront, and encourage yourself to take a step in that direction. Taking a small but concrete action toward your goals is how to develop resilience, a key characteristic for succeeding in life.

Recommended: Should You Pay Off Student Loans or Invest?

Avoid Dwelling on the Past

As you attempt to change your money mindset, there may be errors from the past sticking in your mind, reinforcing the idea that you are bad at financial management. Dwelling on the past can stop you from creating a different future. The failures, mistakes, and traumas from the past are real — but they don’t have to define you. For example, if you’ve endured a romantic breakup, that doesn’t mean you can’t date again and find love. In the same way, just because you had too much credit debt recently doesn’t mean you can’t get that issue wrangled.

It’s a good idea to jettison this kind of looking-back viewpoint. Instead, try putting your effort toward what you can change in the present and strive to achieve in the future.

The Takeaway

Your money mindset is the attitude and beliefs that form your relationship with your personal finances and it drives your financial habits. Since most people pick up unhealthy financial habits along with healthy ones, it’s crucial to recognize the financial beliefs that aren’t serving you. Then you can set about changing your money mindset and shifting your behavior to better achieve your goals.

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How do I get rid of a money scarcity mindset?

The belief that you never have and never will have enough money is part of your money mindset. To change that belief, identify where the mindset came from and make a positive change, such as setting a small savings goal and achieving it.

What is a poor money mindset?

A poor money mindset consists of unproductive beliefs about money that lead to negative financial decisions and habits. An unhealthy relationship with money when growing up or having made past financial mistakes can create a poor money mindset.

How is a money mindset formed?

You form your money mindset through the financial beliefs you hold as true. Your childhood, peers, and financial successes and failures help define your money mindset.

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