Our attitude towards money shapes the ways in which we manage our finances, and it can also have a major influence on our long-term financial capability.
Where does our attitudes towards money come from?
Our views regarding money originate from beliefs instilled during childhood or our own individual past experiences with money. For most people this starts with our parents. From an early age we are exposed to adults dealing with money, whether they are disciplined savers and budget their spending, or whether they’re spenders with no concept of saving. These experiences leave us with positive or negative belief systems; some who have experienced poverty strive to never be poor again and will take steps to actively avoid it. Others believe that being poor is just how things are, and that the struggle to make ends meet will always be there. At the other end of the scale are the wealthy – those who inherit wealth or are born onto it. Some will continue to grow their money, whereas others will squander it and end up with nothing.
Your financial mindset determines if you are more likely to be a saver or spender and if you are inclined to actively manage your finances, or just ignore them. Your attitude toward money is a learned behaviour that can be adjusted once you become aware of the negative thoughts and behaviours that could be holding you back.
The pessimistic and optimistic mindsets for money
People with a negative view of money see money as a source of anxiety or worry. Common beliefs for these people include feeling that wealth is not deserved, money should not be accumulated, and there is never going to be enough money. This group tends to be jealous of others and think the financial system is rigged against them. Their pessimistic qualities mean they spend rather than save. This negative attitude leads to inaction and the potential for missed financial opportunities. They think financial goals are impossible, are less motivated to be proactive, and avoid planning.
People with an attitude of prosperity on the other hand see money as a tool to help them reach financial success. They are more likely to be goal oriented and are appreciative of what they have. They plan for the long term. Optimism often leads to financial success. People with a positive money attitude generally spend less than they earn, save for the future, manage their credit, give to others and plan for unexpected expenses.
Can these attitudes be changed?
Negative money beliefs can be changed. A sense of belief and confidence can help to achieve financial prosperity. Start with small steps – learn the basics about money, set some simple financial goals, don’t compare yourself to others and avoid blaming your situation on outside forces. Block your negative internal dialogue (we know it’s there) from saying things like: “I’m terrible at managing money, I’m just not capable of saving, I don’t understand investing” or “investing is only for men in pinstripe suits.”
As you learn about money and become more comfortable with it your financial confidence will grow. If you remain uncomfortable with money you may be sabotaging your financial future. Be grateful for what you currently have, celebrate the small wins, and forgive yourself for any past mistakes. Gratitude has been found to increase happiness and reduce stress which can contribute to a positive outlook. If you can, try to also spend time with people who will encourage you to see money as a positive force.
Your attitude to money can be changed and controlled – don’t be afraid of learning about your finances, block your negative internal dialogue and change your attitude towards money. If we commit to learning more about our finances we’ll have a better chance of financial success.