Seeing ourselves as being bad with money can have a huge impact on the way we spend our hard-earned cash and many of us often think our financial prowess – or lack of – is something we can’t change.
However, an overhaul is possible – and it isn’t the terrifying and humongous task you might imagine it to be. Through implementing a series of small changes to your mindset and habits, you can set yourself up to make financial decisions which will improve your mood as well as your bank balance.
Here, experts explain how to renew your attitude to money matters and why it isn’t as scary as you might think…
Consider why you think you’re bad with money
The first step in creating a positive attitude is exploring why you lack confidence in the first place. Simonne Gnessen, financial coach and founder of Wise Monkey, says there’s often a backstory which influences how we deal with our personal finances.
“It might be that you’ve had big expectations put on you by parents or ‘I was rubbish at maths at school and freeze when anyone talks about numbers’,” she explains. “That can then translate into the way you behave with money.
“See it as a story and potentially a fictitious one and try to reframe that and understand it better.”
Avoid ostrich syndrome
It’s a behaviour plenty of us are guilty of but burying your head in the sand will make facing up to your bank balance even more difficult in the long run. “You’re denying it although you know it’s there,” says Gnessen. “And that carries a huge amount of stress. Often the truth is the best because then there’s something you can do about it.”
Gnessen recommends getting into the habit of checking in on your balance by adding it onto another activity you regularly complete – like doing so just after checking your emails or before turning your laptop off. Plenty of banks offer text alerts too, which can notify you when your funds dip below a certain point.
Create positive goals
Having an aim to work towards will be key in creating good habits but rather than setting a solely monetary goal, experts recommend choosing one that also focuses on your mental attitude. “We’re emotionally driven, not logical,” says Kim Stephenson, a financial psychologist. “Working on wellbeing makes your decision making better because you are less stressed and less emotionally connected to all the fears and guilt that surrounds money for you.
“Then you are able to plan ahead and use your money to move you forward. Think, ‘What do I want my money to do for me? What do I want to achieve?’”
Consider what message you’d love to “reinforce” to yourself, adds Gnessen. “Pick something juicy that has emotional content. Then what would you do differently, if you had that belief? What could you do differently?”
And try not to dwell on past mistakes or regrets either and instead, keep your eyes firmly planted on where you want to be in the future. “Focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want,” she recommends. “Where do you want to be? What’s the outcome you might like to have?”
Stop the splurges
With your new positive attitude in place, you can begin making small practical changes which will have a big impact on your purchases. Being aware of your spending is key and these small actions create added time for you to be mindful of where your money is going.
If online shopping is something you often turn to, Gnessen suggests removing your saved card data from your phone and laptop, and unfollowing brands on social media. If you feel you spend too much money on food deliveries, delete the apps.
“Then you’re not seeing the sales that are on,” she explains. “If you’re not seeing them, you’re less likely to want to spend. Or it might be helpful to take your credit card out of your purse or wallet and put it in a drawer. Start with baby steps and then your actions will reinforce a different mindset.”
“Put a little red sticker on a picture of something you want,” Stephenson adds. “Then stick on your watch or phone, and on your computer or make-up mirror.” Then, he adds, you’ll be reminded of your aim and think more before spending your hard-earned cash.
Quit the FOMO
It’s easy to scroll through social media and feel like everyone is having a great time and rolling in cash, but that usually isn’t the true story – and through talking about money more, we can change how we feel while browsing on Insta.
“We often have deep shame, fear and anxiety when it comes to money,” says Gnessen. “It’s a topic we don’t talk about so often, we feel quite isolated with it and we run away from it.”
Rather than comparing yourself to others, try to have open conversations about cash with loved ones or close friends, which can also help in real-life situations where you’re trying to curb your spending.
“We’re happy to go to a restaurant and say, ‘I’m on a gluten free diet at the moment’ so why is it that we have such deep shame about saying, ‘you know what, I’m not going to drink alcohol and I will pay my share at the end, is that okay?’ We’re having those tough conversations so let’s just take it one step further.”
And often, Gnessen says, you might also find that other pals share your thoughts but didn’t want to speak up. “The more one person can be brave and set the tone for the group, the easier it’ll be for everyone,” she adds. “Because almost certainly, there are other people in that group who are also succumbing to the group dynamic of how you pay for things, who also aren’t happy.”