“You can do anything you put your mind to.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” – Napolean Hill
Mind over matter.
Do any of these sayings sound familiar?
It’s easy to rattle these sayings off but it’s another thing to actually embody the meaning that they are conveying. I mean, I can tell myself that one scoop of ice cream or one brownie is plenty. But then a few hours pass by and suddenly you are three quarters of the way through a Ben and Jerry’s pint or half the pan of brownies is MIA. We know what is good for our bodies but at the end of the day, reality is not always what we plan or intend for ourselves. Unless we are willing to change how we think about food, we will continue to get the same results.
The same is true with money. When it comes to your money, having the right mindset, frame of mind to approach your spending, saving, and investing will take you farther than simply learning the mechanics of personal finance. We can take a class on budgeting or learn how investments work but if we aren’t able to address the behaviors that cause us to make poor money decisions, then all that money and effort will go to waste.
Prior to getting out of debt, I would buy a different personal finance person’s book on getting out of debt or how to manage your finances. I was convinced that the next book was going to give me The Secret to achieving all of my personal finance goals. And while each author may have provided some small tip that wasn’t discussed by the others, all of the authors mainly focused on the same basic principles. Spend less, save more, increase your income. Nothing earth shattering and certainly no new theories that were going to change the course of history for me.
And then, I had my lightbulb moment. It was at the point in my early 30s in early 2010 that I was watching my grandmother balance her checkbook. Anyone who knows her knows that she is meticulous with detail. This is why she was a sought-after seamstress. She would search and account for every last penny in her checkbook. As I watched her reviewing her account, it reminded me of the stories I had heard over the years from her and my grandfather and all the sacrifices she and my grandfather made. Coming from Cuba in the early 1960s, they started over with zero dollars in their pockets and no knowledge of the English language. Their perseverance, patience, and sacrifice are what allowed them to not only survive but thrive in their new homeland. Watching my grandmother reminded me of all that I had been afforded and that it would be a tragedy to throw it all away.
Suddenly personal finance took on a whole new meaning. It’s like my eyes and ears were now open to receiving personal finance advice. And I still felt like I needed a Dr. Phil, in-your-face kind of messaging so when my best friend told me about Dave Ramsey and his approach, I was all in. It was just the style I was looking for and gave me the swift kick in the pants to get moving – like my life depended on it.
So, what can you do to get yourself in the right financial headspace? Here are some ideas to consider when you want to change your mindset:
Realize that it may take time – and work – to process through a mindset change. One of the best ways to work through mindset issues is to work with a coach – someone who can help you walk through the money mind blocks that may be preventing you from moving forward with your financial goals. Be ready to get real with your emotions and feelings surrounding money so you can work through any negative beliefs you may be holding on to. Also, make sure to interview several coaches to find a great fit. As with The Biggest Loser, you may respond better to a Jillian Michaels personality than a Bob Harper personality, or vice versa.
As I was going through my personal finance re-awakening, I was decluttering my home and found a Dave Ramsey book that I had purchased several years before my lightbulb moment. I started to chuckle when I realized that I bought the book twice – once when I wasn’t ready and once when I was ready. Same book, same motivating words – it just took several years for my mindset to catch up.
Determine what your priorities are, even before goal setting. All life priorities have a financial cost attached to them. Being clear about what you are working towards will help you to avoid the outside noise and advice of others around you. For example, if your goal is to retire early, your focus is going to be on saving and investing a large percentage of your income. This will change what your current lifestyle looks like, either by working more to support your current level of spending or cutting back on expenses to make up the savings difference. However, if your goal is to buy a home, your level of long-term investing won’t be quite as high and your focus will be building a good down payment for a home.
Evaluate your environment to see if you are feeding those priorities. Are there people or things in your environment that are blocking you from being in the right mind frame about money? It’s amazing how heavily influenced we can be by our immediate surroundings. Changing behavior and mindset are easier to do so when you have influences that support your end financial goals. But that also means addressing the current state. You may have to change up your social activities that are more budget-friendly. You may have to have tough conversations with the people in your life about how their behavior or words are affecting your money goals. Make your surroundings a positive influence on the way you want to think about money.
Believe you have the ability to complete change your future with the resources you have. There are a lot of things in life that we don’t have control over. But how you decide to move forward with your money and how you decide to take the next step – that’s all on you. Yes, there are external forces. Yes, there are financial events that happen that are out of our control. But in the end, you get to decide how to respond to them and how you move forward. And a lot of that comes from how you shape your mindset.
Changing your mindset about money is not easy. It takes time and discipline and being able to step outside of our own minds to objectively reflect on how our mindset is affecting our money decisions. But without changing your mindset, you will continue to fall back into old money habits and not make progress.
Interested in working with a coach to work through your money mindset issues? Click here to schedule your FREE consultation to see if coaching is the right fit for you.