How Money Beliefs Affect Your Spending
It’s common knowledge that one must control one’s thoughts because thoughts lead to actions. The same is true with money – how you think about money directly leads to how one spends money. So it goes that improving6 your relationship with money is an important first step to changing your spending habits.
Many people, particularly women, believe they are terrible with money and then they act according to that belief. I’m terrible with money, one thinks, and thus that person doesn’t feel the impetus to learn how to be better with money. Or they tell themselves they are terrible with money so it doesn’t hurt their psyche when they know they’re spending as they shouldn’t.
If you’re terrible with money, then acting as if you’re terrible with money seems like a logical next step. But if you perceive yourself to be good with money, it’s harder to act against that identity. If you act against your belief in yourself, you have cognitive dissonance. So you then have to change your actions to match up with your identity or you rationalize your actions to yourself so you can retain your identity. Either way, it’s a bit more difficult than just thinking bad person=bad actions.
How to Change Your Money Beliefs
If you could change your view of yourself – it would be easier for you to act in accordance with that new belief. And then as you continue to act in accordance with that new belief, you develop more actions to support your belief.
I know some of you might say, you can’t just tell yourself something and have it be true. But if you think about it, your identity may not be factually based at all.
I think about this fact every time my mother says she hates to travel. The last time she said this, we were in Portugal. She can say she hates to travel and come up with this or that reason to support her belief, but she missed the biggest piece of evidence against her belief – the fact that she was traveling of her own free will.
Similarly, you may be able to conjure up a few anecdotes to back up your claim about whatever you think about yourself, but there is other evidence that you are consciously or subconsciously ignoring. You think you’re a terrible lawyer because your boss chewed you out. But you did well in law school. Your colleagues like you. Your clients have praised your work. If you were the jury, you would be hard-pressed to side with the “bad at your job” side when there is so much evidence against it. So often though, we are quick to side with the negative perspective even when there’s a weaker case for it.
You’re not an impartial jurist, particularly when it comes to judging yourself. People remember the bad more than the good. And it will take more than a simple presentation of facts before you change your mind about what kind of lawyer or person you are. What you need to do is keep pelting yourself with the evidence until your emotional side gets worn down. This easy change idea is a way of pelting yourself with evidence to change your belief.
An Easy Change To Improve Your Relationship with Money
So here’s the idea: I read about a Jar of Awesome. In it, you keep a jar, and whenever something wonderful happens, you write it down and put it in the jar. Then whenever you’re feeling down and out, you can reach into the jar and read about a wonderful anecdote that you otherwise may have forgotten about.
This idea is similar. But instead of writing down wonderful stories, you write down stories or facts that support the idea of your new identity. Let’s say you want to change your self-impression that you are “bad” with money. Here are some anecdotes that, if true, you could write into your jar as “proof” that you are actually quite ok with money.
- That new pair of shoes that you didn’t need and didn’t buy.
- When you started your 401k.
- When you renegotiated your salary.
And when you start to think of yourself as “good with money”, you will act in accordance with that belief. Instead of a vicious cycle, it becomes a virtuous cycle. You belief you are good, and you act as a good person would. You believe you are responsible with money and here’s the proof. Go out and create even more evidence to support your belief, and soon enough, it’ll be difficult for you to act against that belief. Because you truly ARE good with money. Here’s the jar with the facts to prove it.
So what do you think about this easy change to improve your relationship with money?