How do you feel about money? It’s an interesting question considering many of us don’t stop to think about how our emotions influence our finances.
People who struggle with their finances often think negatively about money. This makes sense, when it feels like money is always standing in your way it’s easy to start to feel angry towards it.
When money is a constant problem it can start to feel like you hate money. But think about that. We tend to avoid the things we hate. So if you hate money how can you expect to ever have more of it?
If you want to change your financial situation you first need to change your mindset.
Here are some effective ways to overcome your negative thoughts surrounding money and create healthy financial habits.
Identify specific negative feelings associated with money
Everyone has an emotional connection to money, but we aren’t always aware of why we feel a certain way. Start by having an honest conversation with yourself about money.
Ask yourself how you feel about your debt, your income, and your spending habits. Perhaps start journaling and see what comes out. The key is to focus on how these topics make you feel rather than searching for any kind of solution.
Does your debt make you feel overwhelmed like all of the air has been sucked out of the room? Do you feel guilty when you make unplanned purchases at the store? Or sick to your stomach as you wait for your credit card statement to come in each month?
When a feeling towards money comes up in daily life, really take a moment and try to identify what it is and what caused it. Bonus points if you can identify the root cause!
For example, if you feel a tightness in your chest when you sit down to make a budget investigate that. A common feeling here might be that creating a budget means restriction and arguments about going over budget.
You might feel that all a budget does is start fights.
Why is that? Did your parents fight about the budget a lot when you were growing up? Or did your parents make you keep a budget as a teenager and then get mad if you didn’t follow it — making you feel like a failure?
Finding the root cause of your negative emotions will help you overcome them. And by building your awareness of these negative emotions, you can then take steps to shift your mindset.
Choose a positive emotion to work towards
Now that you’ve identified some of the negative feelings you encounter with money, try envisioning a positive emotion to replace it with.
For example, let’s say your debt makes you feel ashamed. A counter positive emotion might be feeling empowered. And with empowerment comes other positive emotions, like confidence and pride. All of which can benefit you in other areas of your finances.
Once you’ve identified your desired positive emotion, take steps to practice this emotion, and create repetitions in your behavior.
I know they sound corny but affirmations really do work. Create an affirmation around money that you wish were true. Such as:
- I’m in control of my money
- I am a money magnet
- I have all the money I need
- I am debt free
Repeat these over and over in your mind. It will feel silly at first but eventually, you will believe them and will create that reality in your life.
As you make small actions (e.g. paying an extra $20 each month) and hit celebratory milestones (e.g. eliminating a credit card balance), you’ll practice feeling empowered and in control of your financial situation.
Look for evidence that you are in control
If you want more positive emotions around money look for evidence of your wins. Take note of even the smallest success.
If you switch from name brand cereal to generic to save $1. Take note. That’s a win. Paying a bill on time is a win. Opening a savings account, even if you don’t have money to put in it yet is a win.
Every single action you take that positively affects your money is evidence that you are in control of your finances.
Create financial systems to minimize an emotional response
Many people don’t feel comfortable talking about money, and some even choose to avoid thinking about it because it’s too emotionally overwhelming.
If you’re one of these people, consider putting some financial systems in place that will help minimize your knee-jerk emotional responses.
This might include systems like:
- Putting your bills on autopay
- Put money directly into your savings account through direct deposit
- Set up automatic text alerts from your bank if your balance drops below a certain amount
These systems will ensure that your finances are moving forward even if you aren’t actively working on them. It will help you avoid mistakes, such as forgetting to pay a bill, and will be more evidence for you that you are in control of your financial life.
But setting up automatic systems doesn’t mean you get to ignore your money. Set aside weekly meetings with your spouse to discuss finances in a calm, controlled setting.
By carving out a time and space for reviewing your financial situation, you can solely focus on money for a set period of time instead of letting it consume your every thought.
Join a community that fosters financial support
Finances are one of the top stressors for individuals and couples. Yet, many people neglect getting help when it’s needed.
Fortunately, social media and the internet have made getting support much more convenient, and even discreet. Knowing you aren’t alone in your battles will make them seem much more manageable
You can search for budgeting and financial mindset community groups on the different social media platforms. Or even take a low-cost online course that teaches budgeting fundamentals and offers community support throughout your journey.
Just keep in mind that we are what we consume. Just like in real life, you want to surround yourself with positive influences.
Make an effort to only follow accounts that produce uplifting content and provide real-life guidance. Here’s a list of great personal finance Instagram accounts to follow.
Money isn’t your enemy
For better or for worse, we all have an ongoing relationship with money. And that relationship requires a conscious decision to put in the work to ensure it’s healthy and thriving.
By identifying how money influences your emotions, you can actively combat negativity and make logically sound decisions that will benefit you long-term.