5 Money Myths You Probably Believe (But That Secretly Harm Your Finances)
When I was 18, I got my first credit card, and the rest is history—and not the kind of history you want to remember. I quickly fell into the plastic lifestyle, and by the time I was 23 years old, I had racked up $30,000 in credit card debt to go along with my $20,000 in student loans. I was living in New York City barely making $30,000 a year so...you could say I hadn't really hit the post-grad stride I was hoping for.
It wasn't until I paid off that debt and later did a year of no shopping that I stumbled upon some big revelations about my finances. Nowadays, I work with money for a living and help spread what I've learned to other women going through similar struggles.
After years of working in this field, I've found that, in short, many of us have misconceptions about money, and they are negatively affecting our finances. The good news: With some simple mindset shifts, you can change the way you are thinking about your moolah for the positive.
Myth #1: Money is bad and it causes stress.
Most of us grow up "learning" (learning is a loose term here) about money through a negative lens, and that, my friend, can have a big impact on how you approach finances. Our brains are wired to go toward pleasure and away from pain, so if money is "bad," you're setting yourself up for avoidance, not abundance. And guess what? When you ignore your money, it will ignore you, and ignorance is not bliss when it comes to your finances.
How to get over it: When you have a bad thought about money, stop and flip it to a positive. Having a hard time? Tell yourself one positive way money has helped you. For example, it's put a roof over your head or allowed you to buy that yummy lunch you just ate.
We learn how to make money and how to spend it, but we usually don’t learn how to manage it.
Myth #2: Money is a taboo topic.
Money affects every person every single day, just like your clothes. Except...we don't talk about it like we do a trip to the mall. You know why? At some point in our society we started attaching our self-worth to our wealth. That's unfortunate because money has nothing to do with your value as a human being. In fact, if we openly talked about it, we wouldn't allow it to have so much power over us, and that might make us better equipped to manage it.
How to get over it: Ask your close friends if they want to start talking and learning about money together or look for a mentor you can talk to—somebody who you trust and is a few steps closer to where you'd like to be in terms of finances. It's gonna feel scary, but after one time, you'll already start to feel empowered.
Myth #3: Managing money is logical, and you should already know how to do it.
When was the last time you chose to skip out on that happy hour because you want to hit your 15 percent contribution goal to your retirement fund? Exactly. If money was logical, we'd all have a perfect financial picture and be eternally on-budget, but it's actually highly emotional. We learn how to make money and how to spend it, but we usually don't learn how to manage it. This means that most of us are winging it and making decisions based on our feelings and fleeting desires. Let's also add the fact that 40 to 45 percent of your daily actions are habits—aka things you do on autopilot. Translation: You're probably (most likely) spending money without even realizing it.
How to get over it: Before you purchase anything, take a minute and tune into your emotions. After a week of practicing mindfulness around your spending, chances are you will start to see some emotional trends pop up. Acknowledging these is the first step of changing your behavior.
Myth #4: You have to be good at math to manage your money well.
Yes, some basic math is helpful, but in this day and age...there's an app for that. When you keep the story that you aren't good at managing your money because you aren't good with numbers, you are basically giving yourself permission to ignore your finances. Since a lot of our behaviors around money are driven by our emotions, the best skill you can bring to the table is just knowing yourself and your habits—no math degree required.
How to get over it: Check your bank account daily. Yep, just rip the Band-Aid off. You will quickly see where you are spending your money and how much you are spending. What is uncomfortable will eventually become comfortable, and knowledge is power.
Myth #5: Making more money will solve your financial problems.
In reality, it doesn't matter how much money you make. If you don't know how to make your money work for you, it's not going to. We like to give money a lot of power, when in fact, it can't actually do anything for us unless we tell it to.
Let's just say you are 30 years old and you put $25 every week into a jar on your counter for 35 years (until you retire at 65). You'd have $45,500. On the flip side, if you put that $25 a week into a Roth IRA, you would over have $177,000 by the time you retire. Again, it doesn't matter how much money you have; it matters what you do with it.
How to get over it: Take out a piece of paper and write out what your dream life looks like. Are you traveling? Buying a house? Financial planning is not one-size-fits-all. Your plan should serve where you want to go. If you don't know your final destination, you won't know what steps to take to get there.
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