Do you think you’re bad with money? When it comes to budgeting, investing, or saving, do you feel like you’ll “never get it right” or “never understand any of it completely”? Nobody wants to be bad with money; everyone wants to have a successful financial plan. So, why do so many of us put ourselves down when it comes to money?
Our personal experiences, starting as early as childhood, build our perceptions and values around money when we’re adults. When those experiences are less than positive, they can create lasting impressions that can be really tough to shake.
These experiences with money are a part of who you are now, but they don’t have to define you for the rest of your life. The good news is, you can start turning your mindset towards money around. How? It starts with the power of “yet.”
WHAT’S THE POWER OF “YET?”
There’s an excellent TED Talk by Carol Dweck, psychologist and researcher of motivation and mindset. Dweck kicks off her talk with an anecdote about a high school in Chicago that gave failing students the grade “Not Yet,” instead of your traditional Ds and Fs.
Put yourself in a high school student’s shoes: after working hard and studying, getting an F may feel like all your efforts were for nothing. Now imagine getting a “Not Yet” instead. What does this tiny change in detail do? You might feel that, okay, you tried, but you didn’t get where you needed to go. Not yet. You can get there if you work harder and try again.
You can apply the power of yet to your money mindset. Stop telling yourself “I’m bad with money” or “I’ve always been hopeless with money.” Instead, we like to say “I haven’t had time to focus on my budget yet” or “I haven’t gotten comfortable with my finances yet.” You’ll stop feeling bad about your history with money and start feeling like you’re working towards a better place.
DIVE INTO YOUR MONEY STORY
Harnessing the power of “yet” is just the first step. Once you do that, you can keep working to change your attitude towards money.
The next step? Dive into your money story. That’s the story that encompasses all of your experiences with money. To come up with your money story, ask yourself questions about your past experiences and childhood environment.
These questions might include:
- How did my parents or family approach money when I was young?
- Was money tight during my childhood, or was it always present?
- Were there a lot of fights about money?
- How do my parents and family act about money now?
Then, take some time to think about how those answers have affected your behavior now. Do you think about, talk about, or interact with money in a similar way to your parents or family members? What’s different? Are these similarities and differences positive or negative?
You should also reflect on instances where you’ve made good choices with money. Think about the situation, how you approached it, and how you made your financial decision. Why did your decision make you feel good? Was it because you used money according to your money values?
This exercise in reflection will help you create your new money story. You’ll learn why you’re proud of the financial choices you’ve made as an adult. You’ll also learn what has influenced you in the past, positive or negative. Maybe you appreciate that your parents worked hard to be financially stable, so money was always available for the family, but you didn’t like that they spent more than they saved. You can pick and choose which elements of your money story you want to bring with you in the future.
NOT YET, BUT SOON
Remember: being good with money first starts with changing your perception about yourself. As Dweck said in her TED Talk, “Just the words ‘yet’ or ‘not yet,’ we’re finding, give kids greater confidence, give them a path into the future that creates greater persistence.” You may not be earning grades in school anymore, but anyone can benefit from a little confidence boost and determination, right?
Taking a different approach to your finances doesn’t have to be limited to your mindset, either. If you’ve found that traditional budgeting systems on spreadsheets or pen-and-paper haven’t worked for you, maybe you just haven’t found the right budgeting system…yet. (See what we did there?)
If you’re ready to find a budgeting system that helps you embrace new habits and relationships with money, give BudgetingBlocks™ a try. Our interactive, highly visual budgeting process helps you see where your money is actually going and what you can do with it. Start building a better budget now by using BudgetingBlocks™!