Take a second to think about your relationship with money. Not how it feels when it’s in your hands, or how it sometimes hurts when you spend it – just the money itself. Would you say your relationship with it is a healthy one, or could your connection use a little work?

The truth is, the thoughts and beliefs we hold about money play a larger role in our financial success than we might expect. Personal finance author Rachel Cruze put it succinctly when she said, “What you believe about money, yourself and the world shapes how your life will unfold.”

Here’s the thing – when our money mindset is geared towards abundance, or the belief that there will always be enough to go around, incredible things happen. Opportunities seem to present themselves readily, we focus on the things we can control, and we feel more empowered to make lasting changes in our lives.

Sometimes, however, our inner voices usher us towards a money mindset of scarcity, making us feel as if we’ll never have enough. Not enough time, energy, or money to ever truly improve our lives. The belief that if someone else is winning, we’re losing out. Money anxiety plagues us day in and out – and why? Because the scarcity mindset is built off of fear rather than gratitude.

If you’re ready to welcome bigger and better things into your life, it’s time to upgrade your money mindset. Let’s begin by reviewing exactly what a money mindset is before giving you a few suggestions on improving yours.

What is a money mindset?

According to Erin Lowry, author of Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together, Your money mindset… is how you both interact with and react to money.”

In other words, your money mindset is your unique, individual set of beliefs about money and how it should be used. It drives the decisions you make about handling money, specifically spending and saving it. Most of us probably feel like we have a healthy mindset when it comes to money… but how would you rate yours from 1 to 10?

Now that your numbers are in, let’s take a closer look at what people with healthy money mindsets generally think.

People with healthy money mindsets tend to believe things like:
  • My financial goals are within reach, and I will accomplish them
  • The only person I should compare myself to is my past self, no one else
  • I have the freedom to spend money, but if I’d rather save it, I can
  • The opportunities I’m seeking are out there, just waiting to be found
  • I’m grateful for what I have; I don’t need to focus on the things I lack

So – how did you stack up?

The best time to plant a tree

If your money mindset needs some work, you’re in good company. If you ask Lowry, many people have held their thoughts and beliefs about money for so long that they’re not even sure where they came from.

Fortunately, it doesn’t matter when your money mindset began to take shape. If you want to change yours, all that matters is you’re here now. Regardless, here’s a bit of advice:

You’re probably familiar with the old Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

It’s okay to realize that your money mindset hasn’t been benefitting you all these years. Don’t get caught up thinking about the “should’ves” and “could’ves”. Your new challenge is building a better money mindset, and it’ll require you to live in the present. With some time, effort, and the guidance of our suggestions below, we have a feeling your money mindset will be healthier than ever in no time.

5 Ways to Shift Your Money Mindset to Abundance

Get your budget in check

If you haven’t managed a budget before, there’s a chance it could feel limiting when you start. It’s your money after all – why should this tool dictate when you can spend it?

But, instead of looking at your budget as something that restricts you, switch your perspective to appreciate what it can provide you. For example, a budget can be:

An antidote to financial anxiety: When bills come rolling in at the end of the month, you won’t be losing sleep – you’ve budgeted for all of the expenses ahead of time. Now you can purchase that new gadget you want stress-free and without guilt because you know your most important matters are covered.

An opportunity to focus on what’s important: Don’t want to worry about money when you’re older? Your budget tells you how much you can comfortably save each month for retirement. Want to pay for your children to go to college? Your monthly budget shows you have $200 you can allocate anywhere – maybe you could open a college fund?

A much-needed audit of your spending habits: You’re spending over $100 on streaming services a month, but only really use one or two – cancel those memberships and save some extra money. And they’re charging you how much for cable? It might be time to cut the cord.

A budget is only limiting or restricting if you choose to look at it that way. Instead, it’s better to focus on all the positive things it can bring you. Remember – abundance over scarcity. Don’t focus on the things you’re losing; focus on what you can gain.

New to budgeting? Take a look at a few of the resources we’ve linked below to get started:

Start reading

One of the main reasons many of us don’t have the healthiest money mindset is because we were never taught how to build one. Fortunately, countless respected authors have set out to change just that, working to shift their readers’ perspectives on money for the better.

Here are a few of our favorite selections for improving your money mindset:

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Though Think and Grow Rich was released over 83 years ago, the information found in the selection holds up incredibly well. In this classic personal development book, Hill interviews 500 millionaires (including Henry Ford and Thomas Edison) and picks their brains on the true and timeless recipe for riches. Want a brief summary of the ingredients? According to Hill, a burning desire to succeed, a well-developed plan, and faith that the plan will succeed are all key to growing rich.

Your Money or Your Life by Joseph R. Dominguez

Your Money or Your Life is a welcome change from other personal finance books that recommend taking a “deprivation and discipline” approach to saving money – instead, Dominquez believes that choice and freedom are necessary aspects of any successful saving plan. One of the more powerful messages in this selection is that money is not simply valuable paper – it’s a form of life energy. In other words, when you spend money, you’re not just trading paper – you’re trading the hours of your life it took to make it.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Breaking bad habits is rarely an easy endeavor, but your ability to do so could be the difference between an enriching, successful life and a not-so-great one. In his book Atomic Habits, Clear breaks down the four steps of what he calls “The Habit Loop”: Cue, Craving, Response, and Reward. Better yet, he shares valuable techniques to hack this loop and free yourself of your bad habits, which he believes is key to achieving real, meaningful progress in life.

As they say, knowledge is power – and the quick shift in perspective these books provide is all you need to discover the true power of an abundance mindset. If you’re not a fan of reading, no problem – all of these selections are available to download as audiobooks as well!

Looking for more? Find our full list of our reading suggestions here. 

Start writing

Gratitude Journaling

A key aspect of the scarcity mindset is that we focus on what we lack rather than what we already have. This is where a gratitude journal comes in handy.

To begin, open up an untouched page and write “Things I’m Grateful For” at the top, then start crafting your list. As you open your eyes to the many things you should be grateful for, whether it’s your health, job, or the roof over your head, the things you lack will start to seem much less important.

Self-Discovery Prompts

Gratitude doesn’t have to be the only thing you write about, however. Through journaling, you can also learn more about your current money mindset and how you can improve it. We’ve included a few prompts for you to get started on this journey of self-discovery… why not give one a try? You might be surprised at how much good an honest discussion with yourself can do.

  • What is your personal definition of financial success? Why?
  • What’s your ideal way of generating income? What’s keeping you from doing that?
  • What barriers in your life are keeping you from feeling financially confident? How can you remove them?

Here’s a challenge for you: Spend 10 – 15 minutes journaling about your money mindset every day for a week. We guarantee that after the week is up, you’ll have a much deeper understanding of the beliefs you hold about money, where those beliefs come from, and how you can work to change them.

Check-in with yourself before making financial decisions

Once your budget is fully operational, you’ve got the logical side of your money mindset taken care of. With that said, budgeting doesn’t take the emotional aspects of money into consideration – and that experience can be a rollercoaster in itself.

There’s no denying that buying things we want gives us a rush. But while that rush feels good in the moment, it never seems to last for long. We may feel guilty about the purchase afterward, though we still continue to make the same mistakes.

Practicing Mindfulness

Let’s break that cycle by practicing mindfulness. Remember – a key aspect of a healthy money mindset is having the freedom to spend money, but being okay with the decision not to.

So, next time you see something you want to purchase while walking through the aisles or browsing online, take note of how your mind reacts. Your immediate emotional reaction could be excitement or desire – “Wow, I really want this! At this price, it’s a steal – there’s no way I could pass this deal up; I need it now.”

Resist the urge to add the item to your cart. Once that emotional wave passes, try your best to engage your logical mind. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I really need this? Will it meaningfully improve my life?
  • Was my life lacking before I knew this existed?
  • Is purchasing this item worth it if I have to push off my other goals?

As you continue practicing mindfulness, you’ll realize that making financial decisions for emotional reasons is rarely a good move. The more times you successfully keep yourself from purchasing things you don’t need, the stronger and healthier your money mindset will become.

Delaying Gratification

Still struggling with spending emotionally? Try instituting a 24-hour purchase rule. When you see something you want to buy, add it to your cart, but don’t purchase it just yet. Let it sit for at least 24 hours before deciding if you really want it. You’d be surprised at how many things we learn we don’t need when we let our rational minds make decisions.

Keep your end-goal in mind

As people, we can often be pretty short-term thinkers – and it’s a major roadblock that keeps us from achieving our long-term goals. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to clearly see how the choices we make today can impact us down the road.

That’s why when it comes to shifting your money mindset, it’s crucial to keep your end-goal in mind. The more connected you are with your end-goal, the easier it’ll be to brush aside the temptations that’ll inevitably come.

Create a Vision Board

If you’re a visual person, one great way to keep your goals at the top of mind is to create a vision board. For example, maybe your goal is to retire early so you can spend more of your life doing what you love – fishing on the beach. To start your vision board, find images that remind you of that goal – pictures of the ocean, your feet in the sand, a boat stocked with all of your favorite fishing gear. Think about the inner peace you’ll feel as you reel in another big catch with the wind against your back.

Put the board in a prominent place, somewhere you can see it multiple times a day. When temptations come to slack on your goals, take another look at your vision board. Thinking of the consequences down the line may be difficult to visualize in your mind – that’s why you have a physical reminder.

Of course, physical reminders like vision boards aren’t necessary. The point is, when you focus on the things that are most important to you, all the distractions quiet down. That flat-screen TV doesn’t seem as appealing if it pushes your retirement goal back two years – just think of the fish you could be catching instead.

Wrapping up

At the end of the day, your money mindset dictates what you believe is financially possible for yourself – and why would you ever set a limit on that? Scarcity is out, abundance is in… now let’s get those money mindsets in tip-top shape!

Remember:
  1. Start managing your budget: it’ll decrease your money anxiety, save you money, and help you determine what’s most important to you.

 

  1. Start reading: most of us were never taught how to develop a healthy money mindset. Thankfully, some really smart folks decided to share their genius with us by putting their thoughts in well-written books. Learn from them!

 

  1. Start writing: it’s far too easy to take things for granted; make sure you know what you have to be thankful for. And try journaling through some money mindset prompts – you’d be surprised by what you can learn about yourself (from yourself.)

 

  1. Check-in with yourself: making mindful financial decisions is a must. Making decisions emotionally is rarely a good call.

 

  1. Keep your end-goals in sight: remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’ll make the challenges in your way that much easier to conquer.