It is a fact: how you think about money controls your success. Here are 9 ways your self-limiting beliefs are ambushing your financial well-being, and how you can change them.
You might spot a famous Henry Ford saying in our title (‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right’). Yes, that from the man who turned 20th century economics on its head.
In the same way, what you believe about money shapes your financial reality. How much money do you ‘allow’ yourself to make? Not sure that you ‘deserve’ to be well-off?
We are often not even aware that our ideas about money are only that – ideas. They are carried across from generation to generation: in our parents’ attitudes and ‘I once knew a guy’ cautionary tales.
Our own experiences with money also shape our ideas. We make a financial mistake, and we think we are bad with money. Someone takes advantage of us; we decide that money is only for the wicked. We struggle for years to make ends meet – and we know we will never be financially secure.
Why do we struggle so to be successful with money? If it is not because we are useless with money or because the world is against us, what is it?
It is because of our ‘money mindset’, our money beliefs. South African financial advisor Dave Fisher calls this our “financial context”.
As he explains in his book Destination Wealth, “Your financial context answers every question you’ll ever ask about money – whether you realise it or not.”
But the wonderful thing is that beliefs can be changed, just as they are made. And financial well-being is possible for everyone, regardless of your income or current level of debt.
“The secret to wealth creation lies in consistently doing well with what you’ve got,” says Dave. “It’s also easier to increase your financial context than to decrease your lifestyle.”
Let’s look at 9 self-limiting beliefs that are keeping many of us hostage, and how we can “update” them to create a new stronger “financial context” for success in all areas of our lives.
1. I am just not good with money – that is why I will never be well-off
Nobody is intrinsically ‘good’ or ‘bad’ with money, that’s just negative self-talk. We can all choose to educate ourselves and change our behaviour.
A 2019 research report, called the Momentum/Unisa Household Financial Wellness Index, found that “a change in behaviour is still the fundamental difference” when comparing the 25% of our country viewed as ‘financially well’ with the remaining 75% that are not.
Update this belief with: I can become really good with money if I educate myself with the right tools.
2. There is not enough money for everyone
We often hold on to this scarcity mindset, instead of embracing the idea of abundance.
When we ‘allow’ ourselves more, we also become more giving to those around us.
Update this belief with: There is enough for anyone who is willing to earn it. When I create more financial well-being for myself, it will help others become wealthier too.
3. I should only ask for what I need – therefore just want ‘enough’ to get by
Society conditions us to think that we only ‘deserve’ a certain amount of money, or a certain amount of success. This is not true.
‘Enough’ is also a problematic concept because it is vague. We can reach success in our financial planning only when our goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based).
Update this belief with: I deserve to be as financially well or wealthy as I choose to be.
4. Money is not important – it cannot buy happiness, so what is the point?
Perhaps you are not attracted to the typical image of wealth, for example a flashy sports car.
Remember that wealth looks different to everyone: for one person it is sending their child to university, for another it is retiring early to take up the hobby she loves. Either way, it comes down to happiness.
Visualise what wealth looks like to you, then set out to achieve that in your own way.
Update this belief with: More money means more freedom and more choices for a higher quality life, and therefore it is one of my priorities. I can paint my own picture of what wealth looks like.
5. Money is the root of all evil
This idea comes from a slightly misquoted biblical verse (originally it talked about ‘The love of money’). It is a powerful idea because it challenges people’s perception of themselves: Am I a good person? Will money corrupt me? And, very importantly – will people judge me if I have more money?
The crafty George Bernard Shaw countered this belief very compellingly with his saying, “Lack of money is the root of all evil”. Ask yourself: what values, or goodness, have people sacrificed because they didn’t have money?
Update this belief with: Money is neutral – it offers a way to do good for myself and for others.
6. I have to choose between doing what I love and doing a job that will bring me money
Many people choose careers based on the income potential alone. We forget that success in our jobs depend heavily on our drive and commitment to be good at it.
Take your pick from lofty sayings, clever book titles, and sobering advice that support this truth:
• “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” – Marc Anthony
• Do what you love, the money will follow by Marsha Sinetar
• “No one ever said on their deathbed ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’” – Harold Kushner
And by the way, that last one is supported by an actual study .
Update this belief with: I don’t have to sacrifice my passion for money – I can have both. When I create value by helping others in doing what I love, I can also make a profit.
7. It is too difficult to become wealthy – I will have to work too hard
Creating financial wealth is about doing the right things with the money you have and cultivating the right money habits. These can be small steps at first, but over time you can move mountains.
(And speaking of moving mountains: if you haven’t been introduced to compound interest yet, we promise you it will be the beginning of a life-long friendship…)
Update this belief with: Financial wellness is easy when I start making good money choices and create smart habits.
8. I don’t have extra money to save towards wealth
Yes, you do. ‘Living from pay check to pay check’ has everything to do with how your money beliefs manifest in your spending habits, and not with the actual money you earn.
Chat to the right people about setting up a workable budget so that you can start saving and investing to attain financial success.
Update this belief with: I manage my money well so that it starts working for me. The money I do not spend will make me wealthy.
9. It is not in my control to change my financial destiny – it will never happen
Of course, it won’t – if that’s what you believe.
While a downturn caused by a global pandemic or South Africa’s creeping inflation is not in our hands, changing how we think about money and being bold enough to visualize our success story is.
Then we can educate ourselves, surround ourselves with the right people, and start taking small steps towards that vision.
Update this belief with: Creating the life I want is up to me.
Written by Ilse de Vries