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Most people don’t even realize their money beliefs exist, let alone what they are.
But in a world where 30% of Americans are constantly stressed about their finances, maybe it’s time to start looking for answers elsewhere.
Before I became a financial coach, I dealt with a ton of limiting money beliefs.
In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that I was in a similar situation to what you might be facing now.
A few years ago if you had tried to talk to me about “money mindset,” I would have told you to get that woo woo crap outta here.
Seriously. I had real problems to deal with.
I was jobless, broke, and watching my savings dwindle away with each passing day.
Mindset? Give me a break.
I needed MONEY. Like, yesterday.
I was struggling to make enough money to support myself as a freelancer.
On the verge of moving back in with my parents.
But no matter how hard I tried, how badly I wanted to make money, I remained broke.
By this point, I was familiar with the broke lifestyle.
After about a year of stressing out about money, running almost entirely through my life’s savings, and having nothing (monetarily speaking) to show for it, I had an epiphany.
“Broke” was a recurring theme in my life.
All throughout college, I was broke.
(But everyone’s broke in college, right?)
Then I graduated, got a full-time job, and even though I was making more money than I had ever made in my life, I kept playing this same story over and over in my head.
I’m so broke. I have no money. Money is hard. Wah.
But here’s the thing — it wasn’t just that I was broke.
Being “broke” was my story.
In a way, it was part of my identity.
Even though I complained about it constantly, it was almost like part of me took pride in being broke.
Like somehow not having money made me a better person. It made me more likable, more relatable to those around me (family, friends, coworkers, etc.).
In fact, on more than one occasion, I turned down money to stay broke (more on that later).
Suddenly, I realized that I was the one making myself miserable. I was my money’s own worst enemy.
That’s when I started taking this whole mindset thing seriously.
I took a step back and asked myself —
Who’s actually running the show?
You probably already know there are two parts of your mind — the conscious and subconscious.
The conscious mind is the one you’re aware of. As you’re reading this, you’re thinking/talking to yourself in your head.
You may be thinking about the words you’re reading, what you had for lunch today, “Crap, I forgot to text Emily back!” or a whole host of other thoughts.
That’s your conscious mind.
Your subconscious mind is like a massive memory bank. It stores all your memories so you don’t have to learn the same things every single day.
Your subconscious doesn’t question or analyze anything; it just listens, absorbs, and obeys.
All of your habits, beliefs, memories, and physiological processes are stored in the subconscious.
Have you ever driven home from work, pulled into the driveway and thought, “Oh my god, I don’t remember driving here. How did I survive??”
That’s your brain running on autopilot. You made the drive so many times, it sunk into your subconscious.
And your subconscious took over to give your conscious mind a break.
The brain looooves efficiency, and when your subconscious is running the show, you don’t have to exert as much thought or energy.
Here are three fun facts about the subconscious:
1. Your subconscious is mostly programmed by age 6 or 7.
Have you ever heard someone say “Children are like little sponges.”
Well, turns out that’s true.
As children, our subconscious minds are picking up everything that happens around us.
We absorb all the information we see, hear, and experience in order to learn how the world works and how we fit into it.
Much of what we do and believe today is based on these early experiences.
2. Your subconscious is ruled by the conscious mind.
These aren’t two separate entities, but rather two spheres of the same mind.
Your sweet, innocent subconscious is very impressionable.
Whatever you do, say, hear, or experience repeatedly sinks into your subconscious.
For example, if you constantly say, “I’m bad with money,” then your subconscious is like, “Okay, I guess we’re bad with money.”
It then proceeds to produce results that align with its programming.
3. Scientists believe that as much as 95% of our actions are driven by our subconscious minds.
That means only about 5% of our daily actions are conscious choices.
Most people are unaware that they have subconscious beliefs and habits running the show, let alone 95% of it!
Side Note: This article is an excerpt from my free 5-day course, 5 Strategies to Transform Your Money Mindset. Sign up here to get the rest of the lessons sent straight to your inbox:
How does all this relate to money mindset?
Unless you’ve done anything to change your subconscious programming, then everything you heard, saw, and experienced about money as a child is still impacting your finances today.
Positive or negative, it’s all part of your money blueprint (or script or story — whatever you want to call it).
Whether you realize it or not, you’re hanging on to these beliefs and stories about money.
They’re constantly running in the background, impacting your life in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways, and preventing you from getting the results you consciously want.
This free course is about identifying and changing those beliefs so you can create lasting change with your finances.
The Best Kept Secret in Life
There are certain things in life we have no control over: other people, the past, weather. Basically anything outside of ourselves, otherwise known as our circumstances.
However, there are many things that we do have control over.
And, most importantly, our results.
You may be thinking, “That’s not true! I can’t control my thoughts!”
But hear me out.
Most of the time we don’t even know what we’re thinking; we’re just responding to thoughts that we aren’t even aware of!
So why do your thoughts matter so much?
Because your thoughts create your feelings.
Your feelings drive your actions.
And your actions are what ultimately create your results.
Thoughts –> Feelings –> Actions –> Results
And this is hugely important to remember: Circumstances are neither good nor bad.
It’s what we think about our circumstances and the meaning we give them that make them feel good or bad.
Most people try to change their behaviors at the action level.
If you try to change your actions (e.g. sticking to a budget) without addressing the underlying subconscious thoughts/beliefs and feelings that are driving the action (or inaction), then you’re going to have resistance.
So the first step to making lasting financial change is to step inside your mind.
What do you believe about money?
When it comes to the subconscious, our beliefs are formed in three main ways:
1. Words (what we hear)
2. Observations (what we see)
3. Experiences (what we, well… experience)
Since most of our subconscious programming is set before we reach the 2nd grade, your best bet is to look at what you heard, saw, and experienced as a child.
Negative money examples:
- You heard “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
- You saw your parents fight about money.
- Your parents’ home was foreclosed on and you had to move.
Positive money examples:
- Your parents said, “We can use money to make the world a better place.”
- You saw your parents manage their money well as a team.
- You helped out in your family’s successful business.
Whatever early messages you received about money became your subconscious money scripts. If these messages were negative, you could have some serious money blocks keeping you from the success you desire.
My Old Money Beliefs
Remember how I said that it felt like being “broke” was part of my identity?
Well, if you knew my family, you’d probably understand why.
I lived in a (mostly) single-income household with my mom until I was 13.
1 nurse + 3 kids = not a lot of money to go around.
I overheard many conversations about how we didn’t have money, everything was so expensive, and everyone works hard just to get by.
My dad’s family was similar.
So, naturally, I grew up thinking broke was the norm.
I’m from a small rural town, and most people in my community and inner circle didn’t have much money.
It was like the glue that bonded everyone together.
Not having money, complaining about not having money, and silently (or not-so-silently) judging anyone who did.
What seemed like innocent chatter became a core part of my money story.
When I really started digging into my money beliefs, I realized I had the thought that if I did well for myself, my family and community wouldn’t see me the same way.
They would think I was arrogant, stuck up.
“Megan thinks she’s too good for us now.”
It took me a long time and a lot of self-work to get through this one.
And I’m still working on it, to tell you the truth.
But now that I know this thought + feeling pattern exists and where it comes from, I don’t let it stop me from making the money that I need and want.
That shift alone has made a huge impact on my finances.
Up until this point, you’ve probably been blissfully unaware of your own limiting beliefs around money.
Today’s lesson is about changing that.
Take Action: What Do You Believe About Money?
Use this exercise to uncover your own limiting money beliefs. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments, or hop on over to my Facebook community, Money with Intention, and post them there!
Write down the five main money messages you received as a child. These can be things you heard like “Money doesn’t grow on trees” or “Money can’t buy happiness.” They can also be experiences or covert messages you picked up from your culture, society, or community.
Take note of any negative thoughts that come up for you in step 1. Write them down, then begin to question their truth. For example, if you heard “Money can’t buy happiness” as a child, is that a fact (i.e. 100% true in all cases)? How do you define happiness? Maybe happiness to you means spending more time with your friends and family. In that case, can money help you achieve that?
Start to become aware of your feelings and thoughts about money. When you have a conversation, buy something, etc. what feelings come up? The first step in changing your thoughts is to become conscious of what you’re currently thinking.
I’m a financial coach and author + owner of Goodbye to Broke. I love all things personal finance, money management, and healthy living. And I talk to my dog way too much, if we’re being honest.