“If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, LEAVE.”
A “money story” or “money script” is a belief about money that guides a person’s financial behaviours.
These are the stories that children learn from their own experiences with money, their parents’ money stories and their parent’s attitude towards money, as well as from other influences.
Whether or not you are aware of it, we all have money stories and they create the financial habits that we carry into adulthood. Good or bad, these stories and scripts play beneath the surface, subconsciously guiding our actions.
In his research at Kansas State University, Brad Klontz, PsyD, financial psychologist, and his team found a link between specific money scripts and lower incomes and net worth.
“Specifically, money avoidance scripts (e.g. ‘Money is unimportant,’ ‘Rich people are greedy’), money worship scripts (‘More money will make me happier’), and money status scripts (‘Your self-worth equals your net worth’) are all associated with poor financial outcomes,” he said.
So what does this mean for you?
A picture of a healthy relationship with money may include spending that reflects your values, being debt-free or having a plan to become debt-free, setting and achieving financial goals and having money to cover your expenses, even the unplanned ones.
If your relationship with money is not the picture of health it may be time to take a closer look at your own money story and do a little rewriting.
Changing money stories will take time and you have to be willing to dig a little (or a lot) and bare your financial soul. These stories can really have a negative impact on people and in some cases, they can be debilitating.
Should you feel this is too much for you to take on by yourself, seek professional help, give yourself a big pat on the back and congratulate yourself for taking the steps you need to in order to improve your relationship with money!
If you feel that this is something that you can do on your own, but you’re not really sure how to start rewriting your money story…here are 9 crucial steps to reshape your money story and improve your finances.
Identify your money story.
Write down all the negative money stories that you are telling yourself and living out. For example: “I’ll never get out of debt.” Or “I only get jobs with low pay.”
Understand where your story comes from.
By understanding that these stories are not yours, but are conditioned beliefs instilled by your parents and other influences, you can begin to separate yourself from them and create your own story.
Find proof that your current money story is not accurate.
Begin by seeking out at least 3 experiences or pieces of evidence that disprove each story you’re telling yourself.
Your self-worth does not equal your net worth.
Your net worth is the value of your assets minus your liabilities. It does not reflect who you are as a person.
Create a new money story and live it.
What is your ideal money story. What purposeful actions can you take to help you live it?
Start with baby-step changes and commit to one at a time.
Change is difficult but if you choose and commit to small changes, you will increase your chances of creating new financial habits and achieving your goals.
Be willing to forgive yourself.
The will be bumps along the road to changing your money story but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. You have to realize that even with a new money story, life is not perfect and you have to be able to forgive yourself if some things don’t go as planned. If you fall, get up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.
Visualize your habits.
Have a means to “see” what your money habits are and what your plan is. This could be a spreadsheet on your computer or it could be an app or it could be something as easy as using a pencil and paper. The idea is to be able to visualize what you are doing instead of leaving it as a vague thought in your mind.
If you don’t understand the basics of money management, it can keep you from changing your mindset and rewriting your money story. Being afraid to invest in yourself (time, money, or both) will keep you from moving forward. The more educated you are about personal finance, the more confident you will be to try to improve your situation. Read books, listen to podcasts, invest in a coach. Do whatever it takes to get you on the right path.
Your money story is the driver of your financial behaviours and negative ones can block you from achieving financial wellness and success (whatever success may look like to you).
Take the time to reflect on your stories and ask yourself if they are serving your best interest if they aren't, what are you going to do to change it?
When people look to change something in their lives, many tend to go the "all or nothing" route. If they want to lose weight, they want it to happen as quickly as possible but rarely take the time to think about their journey to get where they are.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I know that I didn’t wake up one morning to find that the "fat fairy" had made a deposit to my mid-section! I saw the numbers creeping up on the scales, I felt my pants get tighter but I chose to ignore it until I couldn’t.
It’s the same with debt. There’s no "debt fairy" popping in during the night, screwing with your finances and leaving you with a pile of debt. Chances are, there were signs along the way that you didn’t see or chose to ignore. You knew it was happening but you didn't know how to react to it or how to fix it, and that’s OK…"No Judgment Zone" here…
True, life happens…relationships break down, jobs are lost, health issues or maternity leave mean reduced incomes. But there are ways to create a financial safety net to protect you, just in case…however, many people choose not to do anything until they are forced to.
So how do you start creating your financial safety net?
Well, after you figure out how you "got here" and what’s "keeping you here"…it’s time to make some changes. Yes, that’s right, changes….
C-H-A-N-G-E-S. Think about it, do you really think that you can continue doing the same thing but get different results? It doesn’t work that way.
Change can be a pain and it can be slow. Face it, you will probably screw up and you might want to give up…but don’t; think about why you need to make these changes. What do you want to achieve, what’s in it for you?
You can choose to live a fulfilling life by taking control of your money and spending money in a way that reflects your values. If it doesn’t make you happy, why do it?
Make the changes gradually. Don’t do a money crash-diet, it takes time to build a habit and if you truly want to make more successful changes in your life, don’t overwhelm yourself. Trying to change too much, too quickly is a recipe for failure.
Let’s use the ever relatable weight loss scenario as an example:
You have followed the program of choice, it’s been a long slow process but you’ve learned lots and lost some weight. Woohoo, you go girl!
But what happens next?
You’ve learned and implemented new and healthier habits and "maintenance" techniques. You have also made other healthy changes in your life…. instead of munching on chips and chocolate at work because you are stressed or bored…..you get up and take a quick walk or even a five-minute meditation (or nap) while sitting in the ladies' room.
Chances are that you will continue to keep off the weight and live a healthier lifestyle because you’ve learned how to deal with the situations that send you into the "bad habit zone". No, this did not all happen overnight, but by making small changes gradually, you are able to keep up this lifestyle without feeling deprived and overwhelmed.
Alternately, you followed the latest weight-loss craze, yes it was a bit drastic and you restricted the foods you ate and may have even stopped eating certain food groups, but you did it!! You no longer have to ask "Does this dress make my butt look big?" because you know it doesn’t.
Whew! Success, finally!
Hmm.... OK, well, you can continue restricting the foods you eat....however….
…. a little treat here and there surely wouldn't hurt anything. Right? I mean, you have lost the excess weight and you know that you can always follow the program anytime you want.
So how about a few chips and maybe some chocolate? …. No harm done.
Then it happens, what a blowout at work (or home)! You are fit to be tied. Where is that ice cream?? You are going to teach your boss (or your spouse) not to treat you like that. That’s right, you are going to teach them one heck of a lesson, you are going to sit there and you are going to eat whatever you want, because you can and they will be so friggin’ sorry that they messed with you!
Time passes, the ice cream (treats) are gone and everything is calm again, but ever so slowly you slip back into your old eating habits and before you know it, not only have you regained the weight you lost and more, but your muffin top now looks like it belongs on a shelf in Costco!!
Money problems can work the same way, there are short term (band-aid) solutions that will take care of the immediate issues or you can go gung-ho with the all-or-nothing approach…but realistically, it’s not sustainable. When you start depriving yourself…it won’t be long before the rebel in you breaks out and goes mad-ass crazy!
I mean seriously, do you want to live a life of deprivation? I think not.
Slow and steady wins the race! You are more likely to reach your financial goals by taking baby steps.
None of us are perfect and if you slip up, so what?
It’s OK…you can get back on track and continue the journey!
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you want to invest in yourself but your uncertainty holds you back? You can see the benefits of the investment but you come up with so many reasons why you shouldn’t do it, that you pretty much talk yourself out of it.
Now, you might laugh at what I’m about to say…but I kid you not.
Buying underwear (bras and panties) is a tough decision for many women to make.
Yes, there are many styles to choose from, but often, it’s the financial investment that puts the brakes on the buying. And it is an investment, no doubt about it…the price of a good bra will make your eyes pop and if you choose the matching undies, well, that will probably make you wonder if there are threads of gold in those drawers.
But it's not only a financial investment.
Your undergarments are foundational pieces. Yes, they keep your wobbly bits in place and make your outer garments look better but they do more than that.
What you are wearing underneath has the ability to make you feel confident or sexy or freaky or whatever it is that you are aiming for. You aren't just buying underwear, you are investing in you.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation…
...you know your underwear needs an overhaul but after running through all the reasons why you shouldn’t buy now, you decide that what you have is good enough for now and you can buy something later.
In the meantime the support in most of your bras are at a point where the “girls” look like they are resting in a hammock and the little holes in your underwear become unintentional air-conditioning.
On the other hand, maybe you are an impulse shopper. You don’t talk yourself out of the purchase…but when you get home, that’s when the remorse sets in and you dwell on all the reasons why you shouldn’t have spent the money, and you feel guilty about it.
Women often let their doubts and insecurities stop them from investing in themselves.
Your doubts and insecurities can prevent you from investing in more than just your skivvies, it can prevent you from personal growth and development in other areas of life such as improving your financial, physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and/or social state.
That, in the long run, can impact you and your life in a negative way.
Here are a few of the more common blocks that prevent women from investing in themselves.
1. Instead of making themselves the highest authority of their own lives. They seek permission to grow, from others.
It’s up to you to determine what you need, want and deserve and find a way to get it.
2. They aren’t sure it’s the “right” time.
Realistically it might never feel like the “right time”; you will always be able to find some excuse as to why you don’t have time to do something critical that will help you. Not being the “right time” doesn’t mean it isn’t the best time. It’s up to you to carve out the necessary time and money to make it happen.
3. They are worried that they won’t get enough out of it or that it will be a mistake.
You are the key player in your return on investment. Yes, it takes research to determine if something is worth pursuing but more than that, your commitment, actions, and decisions directly affect your results.
4. They are afraid to achieve success.
Instead of feeding your unfounded fears about what might happen if you succeed in achieving your goals focus on the positive aspects of your success.
5. They feel guilty about spending money on themselves and put the needs of others ahead of their own.
I’m not talking about women who are struggling to keep a roof over their head or food on the table. I’m talking about women who have discretionary income, yet still feel guilty because they want to do something to aid in their own movement forward, instead of using it for the good of others.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Are you putting off investment in yourself, even though you know it will help you move closer to living your "ideal" life?
"HINDSIGHT IS 20/20, AND YOU CAN BENEFIT FROM IT."
I’m sure that there have been times in your life when you have heard yourself say,
“I knew I should (or shouldn’t) have……” or “If only I had known, I would have…...”
Maybe you missed out on an awesome opportunity.
Maybe you didn’t buy the insurance and found yourself paying money out of your own pocket.
Maybe you didn’t have regular maintenance done on your car and ended up with a large bill from the mechanic.
These my friend, are just a couple of examples of when you realize that hindsight is 20/20. That's right, if only you could have taken a little peek into the future, you may have done things differently.
Of course it’s easy to see the mistakes after you make them. But what you do next is what really matters.
If you whine over mistakes made and let them eat at you…that really doesn’t help you any.
If you take the lesson learned and apply it, then you reap the benefits (lessons) of your mistakes.
I don’t think that any of us could have foreseen the financial effects that the Corona Virus Pandemic would have on individuals and businesses.
Many families and businesses will have a tough time recovering from this but there are others who were only mildly affected. Not because they could see into the future but because they were prepared, they had a plan in place before this happened and they had created financial stability.
They were not living paycheque to paycheque, they were not up to their ears in debt, what they were doing was creating a financial safety net for themselves.
They were doing things like:
- Having a plan for their money.
- Making sure that they had the funds available to pay their expenses and not relying on credit.
- Saving money for emergencies and unexpected events.
- Making sure that their spending was in line with their goals and their goals reflected their values.
- Keeping their personal finances personal, not comparing themselves to others, nor were they trying to “keep up with the Jones”.
I don’t want you to compare yourself to these people. I want you to look at your current financial situation and take stock.
What does it look like right now?
If you don’t have a financial safety net, starting today, what can you do to begin creating one?
How can you manage your money in a way that serves you best?
It can seem like a daunting task, if you haven’t done this before but knowing what you want your life to look like is a great first step.
"YOU WILL HAVE MORE SUCCESS IN ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS BY CHANGING ONE THING AT A TIME."
Quite often when people decide to make changes in their lives they tend to go all out at the beginning. They feel totally motivated and ready to take on anything to get the results they want to achieve. They dive headlong into something with only an idea of what the end result will look like.
This works for a little while but the excitement and motivation usually wear off quickly and can be replaced by negative feelings such as overwhelm and regret.
A great example of this is the gym memberships.
Come January the gyms are flooded with folks looking to cast off the mistakes of the past and live a healthier life. Forgetting that they didn't just wake up one morning and suddenly there they were, lying in bed, out of shape and unhealthy.
Fast forward a few months and many of the would-be health nuts are nowhere to be found. Not because they are losers who can’t stick with anything, but because they took on too much, too quickly and without a plan.
Now let’s look at this in reference to financial health.
The same thing can happen when people try to change too much too quickly with their money situation.
Here’s an example.
You would like to start saving more money so you decide that there will be no more dining out, you cut the Netflix, you start using grocery coupons, you sell off everything that you don’t use, you reduce phone plans and so forth.
For the sake of this example, let’s just say that you aren’t in the dire straights and it’s your choice to save money. (Realistically, there are people in a position that their only options are to either make drastic cuts or find extra income, quickly.)
Here you are, you are making all of these changes at once. It feels great to know that you are in control and you are doing this!
The big question is, "How long can you sustain this?".
You start to get antsy, you want to go out to dinner…you miss watching your favourite programs on Netflix…you regret selling many of the things that you sold…and so forth.
Eventually, you begin slipping back into old habits and patterns and before you know it you are in the same situation you were in before. The only thing that you have achieved is to feel even worse than you did before because now, on top of everything else, you have failed to achieve your goals.
But hey, don’t be too hard on yourself. It's not that you are weak or anything like that…the problem is that you took on too much, too quickly.
Instead of trying to change everything at once. Change one thing at a time.
To be successful at making changes stick, pick ONE thing that you want to do differently today, and do that thing. When you have established that new pattern or habit, choose the next thing that you are going to change and work on that. This will help you to stay focused and achieve what you set out to do.
Remember...it took awhile for you to create unhealthy money habits and it's going to take time to establish new, healthy habits.
If you want to establish new habits:
1. Make a list of the old habits you want to change because they no longer serve you.
2. Make a list of the new habits you want to establish, in order of priority.
3. Choose the most important change that you want to make and do that one thing until it comes second nature to you.
4. Choose the next change that you want to make and do that until it becomes established.
5. Continue to do this until you have gone through the list of changes that you want to make.
Yes, it's going to take time to implement these changes, but you will have more success in achieving your goals if you do it this way. Celebrate the changes you make, and be proud of yourself for doing so!