To change your money outcomes, you have to change your money habits. And to change your habits, you have to change what you believe about money, and your relationship with it. That’s because money is not just about your finances; it’s also about your thoughts and emotions about money, the feelings that took root in your childhood, from seeds planted by everything your family, culture, media and community taught you—whether it was true or not. The fruit of those seeds are the financial decisions and outcomes that determine whether your life experience is shaped by lack or abundance. A great book about the connection between your emotional, psychological and spiritual beliefs and your feelings and attitudes about money is True Self, True Wealth by Peter Cole and Daisy Reese.
There’s no guarantee that believing you are destined to be rich, alone, will make you wealthy. But believing you are destined to be poor all but guarantees a life of lack. A big part of changing the way you think about money is challenging what we’ve been told, and too often tell ourselves, about money. Some examples:
You’ll always be broke. Poverty is your (your community’s, your family’s, your race’s, your gender’s, etc.) destiny. The truth: No matter who you are, you can choose to adopt money habits that result in the accumulation of wealth and a positive net worth over time, even if the process is not completed in your lifetime. Changing your belief to one of wealth’s attainability (even while accepting its lack of inevitability), and communicating and demonstrating your faith in that belief to your family and others in your sphere of influence, can result in a transition from persistent lack to increasing abundance from generation to generation.
Money, credit, investing and other financial concepts are too difficult to understand. People who believe this rarely bother to try, and give up the pursuit of financial literacy at the first sign of difficulty when they do—ultimately fulfilling the prophecy.
The truth: You can become more financially literate. No matter how difficult it is in the beginning (as is the case with learning anything new and unfamiliar), it gets easier over time. Once you believe that, your eyes will open to the plethora of self-education resources, from magazines including Black Enterprise, to web sites, to books, to financial experts on every media platform, and even in your own community, available to you. What’s more, that belief will motivate you to tap those resources.
You can’t control your spending. The truth: You have total power over what you do with your money. The choice is always yours. You can learn to say no, even to yourself. But not if you won’t believe you can.
You don’t have enough money. The truth: If you make wise, responsible decisions with what you have, you not only have enough, but you’ll be in position to get even more. It starts with setting priorities and getting real with yourself about the differences between needs and wants—even if you want some things so badly they feel like needs. When you want something that badly, the answer is not more money. It’s dealing with the emotional and psychological issues, such as a hunger for the acceptance or approval from others, driving the need.
The truth is, money is a tool to be used by you to achieve your goals. You’ve got the power to rule over your finances, whether you’re starting with a lot, or a little. As the hip-hop classic goes, “C.R.E.A.M: Cash Rules Everything Around Me.” By examining and changing what you believe about money, you empower yourself to add: “But it doesn’t rule ME.”
Black Enterprise Executive Editor-At-Large Alfred Edmond Jr. is an award-winning business and financial journalist, media executive, entrepreneurship expert, personal growth/relationships coach, and co-founder of Grown Zone, a multimedia initiative focused on personal growth and healthy decision-making. This blog is dedicated to his thoughts about money, entrepreneurship, leadership and mentorship. Follow him on Twitter at @AlfredEdmondJr.