Are Any of These Negative Beliefs about Money Holding You Back?

I’ve got a confession to make – I used to be a spendthrift. Basically that meant that I spent whatever I had. This seemed natural to me, an unwritten law: money was there to buy stuff, not to be saved. I’m ashamed to say that during my school years I even distrusted school friends who had managed to put away nest eggs!

We all have beliefs about money and spending, even though we may be unaware of them. I’m not one of those people who claim that you will achieve instant prosperity as soon as you change those beliefs – life is much more complicated than that.

But if you do have negative beliefs about money, until you face them fair and square they will almost certainly influence how you shop and how much you spend, and you’ll have trouble being more frugal, saving money for significant goals, and gaining control of your finances.

Here are some destructive beliefs that may be holding you back, starting with the most obvious. (I’ve subscribed to many of these beliefs at various times of my life.)

Note: you may still be holding onto some of these destructive beliefs even if you are being successfully frugal; even if you’re not acting on those beliefs any more, they may be making you unhappy.

• Money is there to be spent. When money comes in, it has to go out again.

• When I get a windfall, I need to splurge, otherwise I’m missing out.

• I always need to have the latest piece of technology, otherwise I’ll be uncool and out of the loop.

• I need to keep up with the standard of living pursued by my friends, family and neighbours.

• I need to be rich before I can start giving.

• I deserve to have [insert item of your choice!] because I am a good person.

• The world is an uncertain place. It’s safer to spend money rather than save it.

• Saving money is boring. It’s the kind of thing accountants do, not creative people like me.

• I don’t have to worry about money because the universe will look after me.

• I don’t have to worry about money because my parents will bail me out if need be.

• I don’t have to work for money - I’ll just attract it if I believe I can.

• I always have to buy only cheap goods and sale items otherwise I’ll go broke. It’s not safe to spend extra money to buy higher quality or ethical goods.

• It’s not fair that my sisters [or brothers, friends, neighbours, colleagues] can afford [their own house, an overseas holiday, a renovation, private schooling for their children] and I can’t, so it’s okay for me to borrow and overspend to obtain these things myself.

• I’ m a progressive and believe there should be a decent welfare safety net in place, so there’s no need for me to look after myself financially.

• The cost of living these days is outrageous. It’s not worth trying to live within my means.

• I’m too chaotic to develop the organisational skills that would enable me to save money, eg preparing my lunch in advance rather than buying it.

• There’s no point in trying to save money because whenever I start to get ahead, something happens that sets me behind again.

Identifying your negative money beliefs
Here’s an exercise: grab a piece of paper and brainstorm a list of negative beliefs about money and spending that may be holding you back. Note that some of these beliefs may lead to underspending rather than overspending.

Keep the list handy. Start to notice whenever any of these beliefs (or ones you haven’t yet pinpointed) are in play when you’re shopping, or doing anything that requires spending money, including paying bills. Add to the list any new negative beliefs that you’ve discovered you have about money.

Next time I’ll look at some helpful beliefs that can replace the unhelpful ones.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like 11 Positive Money Beliefs That Can Help You Save.


Janet Gustafson said...

A lot of these are very familiar to me. Thank you for pointing these negative beliefs out. That is the first step, right? Identifying those emotional triggers that set you off, and in this case it's sideways thinking about money that started a long time ago that needs to be put straight.

Inspired said...

Hi Janet,

Thanks for commenting. You're right, we often adopt these beliefs very early on - and awareness is the first step to changing them.