We hear a lot about fake news these days. Well, there’s plenty of fake money news out there, too. But instead of putting all the blame on the press (although they often love to stir the financial anxiety pot), there’s a bigger source of fake financial news. What’s the source? It’s between your ears.
What you think and say to yourself about money has a huge impact on what shows up in your life.
Many times what you tell yourself just isn’t true.
Here are some common false financial stories:
I just don’t have a head for money.
Investing is scary.
Only the big players make money in the markets.
Never spend principal.
You only live once so why not put this vacation on my credit card!
I’ll never be able to retire.
People can’t be trusted when it comes to money.
You get the idea. We tell ourselves stories about money all the time. Many of these tall tales come from our earliest money conversations and observations. Maybe you saw your parents fighting or stressing about money and this will impact how you deal with it today. Or perhaps you saw struggle around money and made a decision early on that you would never find yourself in that same boat.
Some of these unconscious beliefs around money serve you well and others are more like liabilities. The best way to decide is to unpack and observe your money thoughts.
When you become aware of thoughts about money ask yourself these questions:
Is this thought helpful or hindering? If you notice yourself thinking, “Investing is scary,” is this helpful or hindering? In this case, maybe it’s both. If it helps you to better diversify your investments, then it’s a good thing. But if it keeps you from investing at all, then it might not be.
Is this really true? For example, if you have the thought, “I’m not good with money,” is that always true? Do you make smart buying decisions? Do you only spend money you have? Are you saving in your company retirement plan? Is there any area of your financial life where you do a pretty good job? Start there to move past this thought.
If it is true, how can you make it not true? In this example, what’s one thing you can do that is something someone who’s good at money might do? How about starting an automatic savings plan!
Is there a more supportive thought I can have? If you catch a thought that’s not true (and hindering), how can you change the thought to one that is more supportive? Instead of, “I’m not good with money,” how about, “I’m a great value shopper.” Or, “I’ve always been good at saving in my retirement plan.” Focusing on what you are good at will help to grow that muscle and give you confidence to move ahead in other areas.
Be a discriminating consumer of your money news, whether it comes from the media or especially if it comes from you!