The material presented here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.
What’s Your Money Mindset?
It’s natural to have strong feelings about money, good or bad. Perhaps you believe that having lots of money would make you less compassionate and giving. Or, maybe you think that a financial windfall would instantly solve all of your problems. (Some lottery jackpot winners and former child actors would disagree with you!)
Your attitude about money could potentially be what’s holding you back from feeling financially confident. Having a pessimistic money mindset can negatively influence your financial decisions, which in turn could leave you struggling with money issues.
Why is Money Mindset Important?
Good money behaviors are concrete, tangible things that you can do to manage your money well. If you follow one of these rules, a positive financial outcome is likely to occur. Examples include:
- Don’t spend more than you make.
- Put aside money from each paycheck.
- Save $1,000 in an emergency fund.
- Pay off your debts.
It seems obvious that you’ll be in a better financial position if you build your savings up, increase your income and don’t accumulate debt. So, why isn’t everyone making the most of what they have?
This is where money mindset could be holding you back. “We tell ourselves stories to fill in the gaps of what are effectively blind spots,” former Wall Street Journal columnist Morgan Housel writes in his book The Psychology of Money. If you’re telling yourself the story that money is evil or that you’ll never have enough money, how does that impact your finances? From spending habits to stress levels, your financial wellness is affected by how you view money.
What’s My Money Mindset?
Check the boxes below if you AGREE with the statement. You may check as many boxes as you wish.
- I often worry about money.
- Money causes stress.
- I’m concerned that I won’t be able to save enough for retirement.
- When we argue, my partner and I are often fighting about money.
- I will never be able to pay off my student loans.
- I don’t like to think about money.
- I never talk about my financial situation to other people.
- I avoid checking my bank balances.
- Money is the cause of most problems.
- I don’t have enough money.
- You can’t do much to change your financial situation.
- My family doesn’t manage money well.
- Growing up, we never had enough money.
- I never learned good money habits.
- I’m just bad with money and always will be.
- I wish I made more money.
- When I have extra money, I spend it immediately.
- I have large credit card balances.
- I will never have enough money.
- Life would be perfect if I only had more money.
If you didn’t check any of the boxes above, or only checked one or two in each section, that’s great! You may have an ABUNDANCE mindset or a BALANCED money mindset that focuses on steady emotions and practical solutions.
If you agreed with the majority of Section 1 statements, you have an ANXIOUS money mindset. You feel a great amount of stress about money issues, which may cause you to either make hasty financial decisions or let others make financial decisions for you.
If you agreed with the majority of Section 2 statements, you have an AVOIDANT money mindset. You try not to think about your current financial situation and may be behind on saving money and paying debts.
If you agreed with the majority of Section 3 statements, you have a STAGNANT money mindset. You believe that things won’t change, either because you won’t make the right choices or outside forces will prevent you from having enough money.
If you agreed with the majority of Section 4 statements, you have a PRODIGAL money mindset. You are focused on the now and may be prone to overspending. You don’t foresee things getting better in the future unless a windfall happens.
Note that you may have one dominant money mindset or be a combination of multiple mindsets. The important thing is being able to recognize beliefs that may be limiting your mental and financial growth.
Changing Your Money Mindset
Your money mindset won’t change overnight, but there are some quick steps you can take to encourage positive financial behaviors:
1. Stop Personifying Your Dough
Money itself isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s simply a tool that can be used to affect the world around you. If you think of money as bad or evil, you’re likely to shy away from behaviors that would put you in a better financial position.
2. Educate Yourself
If you picked up poor management skills when you were younger, don’t worry! There are plenty of resources out there to learn what you need to know. Subscribe to a popular money podcast, watch YouTube videos from financial experts (we promise there are fun ones!) and check out the articles and videos in our News & Knowledge Center.
3. Develop a Money Mantra
A mantra is a word or phrase that, when repeated, calms the brain and helps you focus on a particular task or topic. Check out this fun video to see how you can create a mantra that matches your money mindset.
4. Focus on the Small Stuff
Climbing mountains of debt or saving from the ground up seems overwhelming. If the big stuff is feeling REALLY big, break your goal down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Focus solely on the first step, such as saving $50 of every paycheck for the next six months or paying off your smallest debt first (aka the snowball method).
5. Start a Money Journal
A money journal works just like a regular journal or diary, but solely focused on your feelings and experiences with money. Went spend-crazy online? Journal it. Fretting about tax time? Journal that too. A journaling app like Friday, Daylio or Five Minute Journal can help you organize and track your money thoughts. As you see patterns emerge, you’ll be able to better address them.
Our beliefs can have a tremendous impact on the choices we make. If you have a “lacking” mindset, you’ll always feel like you don’t have enough. If you have positive feelings about money, on the other hand, you’ll be able to focus on your financial goals and see more options.
Whatever your feelings are now, remember that your money mindset isn’t permanent. With a little introspection and mental elbow grease, you can shift your perspective to one that encourages positive financial behaviors.