I have spent most of my adult life trying to pay off debt, only to accrue more in a vicious cycle. Around and around we went. While we’ve paid off big chunks here and there, we somehow always ended up with more debt in another form. A new-to-us car, another birth, a new move.
We stayed on the debt merry-go-round for a lot of reasons. Often people say, oh, it’s normal to have debt, everyone does! I remember cringing when my husband said that to me once. I knew that statement wasn’t one I wanted to carry around with me as an excuse for overspending.
We’ve had a lot of excuses and reasons for why we’ve stayed in debt, but the biggest one? I always felt like debt was my financial destiny and was a key piece of my money story.
Luckily, we’re finally shaking those false money myths and are becoming debt-free once and for all.
What’s finally changed for us? Is it that we’re finally making enough extra income? Nope, definitely not. Is it that I’ve found the perfect budget? (Well, that part’s true but it’s not the answer!)
We’ve finally made the choice to take the reins and lead the charge in changing our money story. It’s about owning up to your situation, no matter how dire, and questioning your financial beliefs. Then, having the courage to change those beliefs that are causing financial roadblocks.
How do you finally break those old thoughts and patterns? It’s a matter of changing your environment, and changing the money story you tell yourself. Without getting rid of those negative thoughts and beliefs, no budget or second job is going to save you from finding yourself in debt again and again.
These are the top ways that I’ve found to reset your money mindset and rewrite your money story:
Figure out what your money story is.
Without truly “hearing” what you really believe when it comes to money, you won’t ever know what you need to change.
Just take 15 minutes to write down the common thoughts and ideas you have about money. You’ll quickly see some money myths you didn’t realize you had. And then you’ll probably question where they came from, and why the heck you believe them!
Maybe you think you can’t make enough to support your family. Or that you’ll never get ahead. Or maybe you think that it’s never your fault and you’re secretly hoping someone will come along to save you or you’ll win the lottery.
No matter what you believe in your financial life, you need to know where you’re going astray so that you can correct it once and for all.
Surround yourself with like-minded people.
One of the best financial choices I’ve made was to join several budgeting Facebook groups. I see financial questions and discussions in my feed constantly, so I’m always reminded of what I’m working towards and where I want to be. Whether it’s a Facebook group, a church group that meets every Wednesday, or just talking finances with friends, it’s important to have like-minded folks to talk to. Not only are you more likely to succeed with additional support, you can also bounce ideas off each other and hold each other accountable.
Start a new narrative with a favorite personal finance guru.
There are tons and tons of great personal finance teachers out there – from Dave Ramsey to Suze Orman to Gail Vaz Oxlade and everyone in between.
Find one that inspires you and gives you someone to look up to. I suggest starting with the mainstream authors and then reading more specific authors after you figure out which financial paths you need the most help with.
Every personal finance guru has their own perspective and take on finances. Find one that matches you new money story and supports you in your endeavors. If you aren’t sure where to start, here’s a great list of 9 personal finance books that will change your life.
Do one thing every day that supports your new goals.
Do something that supports your new goals every day to reinforce them and help you stay on task. It can be anything from having a no-spend day, to reviewing your finances to see if you’re on budget. Maybe it’s reading a new book, blog post, or listening to a podcast. Whatever it is, by incorporating new financial actions into your life every day, your goals will continue to be top-of-mind and easier to achieve.
I used to constantly find myself complaining about fees, bills, and how we were stuck financially. The truth is – we are pretty damn lucky. We have a roof, four walls, and food; we can afford our healthcare, clothes and entertainment. While some months might be tight, we’re still better off than a huge majority of people. Once I realized just how untrue those thoughts were, I was able to change my mindset and practice being more grateful.
Practice gratitude every day by finding 5 minutes to think about what you’re grateful for. Maybe it’s one thing a day; maybe it’s ten. By learning to appreciate what you have, and finding a more positive perspective, you’ll empower yourself to change your money story.
Actively work to change your perspective.
There’s a lot of ways to work on changing your perspective when it comes to your money story. Once you’re able to recognize flawed thinking, you can use any of these ideas to give your internal money story a more positive spin.
- Practice mantras to change your outlook.
- Journal about one positive financial change you’ve made in your life today.
- Listen to how you speak about your financial situations to others and adjust it.
- Write down your internal thoughts about money and question them.
- Celebrate financial wins, no matter how small or big!
Make the choice to stop being a victim and find ways to feel more in control of your life.
I was so very, very guilty of this one. It’s so very easy to blame your situation on literally anyone else. If you can’t own your situation – no matter how you got there – you can’t fix it. It took a lot to woman up and admit that I’m responsible for my life, no matter what.
Have you ever heard the idea that people treat you how you let them treat you? It’s true. No matter how much I used to hate hearing that, it’s true with money as well. No one causes you to lose or spend money – you are the only one in charge of your actions. Plain and simple.
I only say this with the best of intentions, and I’m dishing up some tough love. You ready? Stop playing the victim. There, I said it. Trust me, I know how easy it is to continue to blame others for when stuff goes wrong, and never own it. Even if it really is not your fault – so what? Hitch up those big girl panties and get to gettin’. No one cares about your money or situation as much as you do, so no one’s going to fix it for you.
Since I’ve worked on changing my money story, I’ve learned to stop and question impulse buying by weighing it against long term goals. I went from feeling like thinking and talking about money was shameful and greedy, to embracing the need to learn about how to take care of our family financially.
Changing your money story and mindset is hard and takes time – just like anything else that’s worthwhile, right? If you’re truly serious about changing your financial situation, you must face the root of the problem. You can budget all you want, and make all the extra money you can – but without changing the actions and beliefs that got you here, you’ll just end up in debt again and again.
Have you ever thought about your money story and where your money beliefs have come from? Did you work on changing them, or were you ok with the narrative? Share in the comments below and let me know!
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