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7 Ways to Adjust Your Mindset about Money

your money mindset

Think about the fact that the currency we exchange is nothing more than printed paper. It doesn’t really have any value at all except the value that’s been assigned to it. Why would we want to measure our personal worth against printed paper that has no value? And yet, this is the mindset that millions of people have adopted.

Look at the effect money has on the way we view ourselves. To some degree, our sense of self-worth and security tends to rise and fall with our income. And regardless of how we reason on it intellectually, the truth is, we all have an emotional connection with money because we always feel better when finances are not an issue.

Let’s adjust the picture a little

Imagine if the whole value exchange system had been built on something like strips of red ribbon. “Oh, I’ve got more red ribbon than you so that means that I am a more valuable person.”  The whole concept is so absurd, it’s laughable.  And yet, in reality, a strip of ribbon is probably worth more than a dollar bill.

A long time ago, currency was intended to represent a commodity like gold or silver, but is that still the case?  No! There is no commodity to back it up – they just print up currency and put it into circulation.  And because most people still hold a commodity based mindset about money, the whole economic picture is just an illusion. But it’s a picture that we are all involved in, so what can we do?

Obviously, we need some financial security in our lives. Sadly, the way we’ve been programmed to attract money is probably not the best way to satisfy that need.  Let’s go over several false notions about the almighty dollar and its place in our lives, and consider some alternative approaches.

How we are conditioned to think and feel about money

From early childhood we are told that money makes the world go around. As a little kid we might have looked at our parents and said, “Can I have a dollar?” Then, if they asked why we would reply, “I need it to get one of these.” So right away, we learn to recognize that everything we want in life has a price tag on it. From that point on our mindset is that to get anything in life requires money.

As we get older we start to link our worth with our hourly wage. As a result of this emotional link, our sense of personal value gets all wrapped up in what we are able to earn per hour. Notice how this conditioning process unfolded. Initially, money had value because it represented what we could buy with it.  But then, it took on a personality of its own.

On an emotional level money is linked to pain and pleasure

We all need money so we can pay the rent and put food on the table. The need is real and without adequate finances things can get very uncomfortable. This adds another dimension to our mindset about money. Now, lack of money equals pain and having money equals pleasure. Is it any wonder that it is almost impossible to avoid forming an emotional attachment with that worthless printed paper?

What happens to our emotional stability when the economy is floundering and personal assets start evaporating? Our sense of security can easily turn into panic and leave us wondering how in the world we are going to cope. That’s a lot of leverage for paper with no intrinsic value.

How can we avoid the emotional rollercoaster?

Independent of the economy or our personal financial status, a balanced perspective can go a long way toward neutralizing the emotional influence of money.  Maintaining the right mindset will not only help us to get through tough financial times, it will also help us prosper in the future.

Let’s try looking at this whole monetary issue with a more empowering mindset.  We can do this by ignoring the negative press and addressing our personal relationship with money.

7 ways to adjust your mindset about money

1. Don’t entrust your finances to othersFinancial management tools are informative, but it is also important to have faith in your own ideas and take control of your financial future. Investments are often not as secure as acting on your own productive ideas. If you come up with a sound business idea, create a business plan and act on it promptly. Don’t allow limiting beliefs about your abilities to create income stifle your creativity.

2. Dare to operate from abundance instead of scarcity. Giving is a powerful way to attract what you need, and generosity opens the flow of abundance. I’m not saying you should give away your last dollar. But a mindset based on hoarding is a sure way to create scarcity. Remember, there are many ways to give outside the realm of finances. Could you give of your time or experience to help others?

3. Don’t put off enjoying your life and your resources. Planning for your retirement is not as powerful as living in the present with an awareness of your future. Putting enjoyment off until a future time is like pushing away your current prosperity. When you delay enjoying your life until your circumstances improve, you actually do yourself a grave disservice. A  mindset built on postponement links your emotional happiness to your financial future.

4. Don’t expect money to solve all your problems. Money is not the path to happiness or fulfillment and maintaining this emotional separation is vital for a happy life. Money will not make your life feel more meaningful, or improve your relationships. Always remember that money only solves financial problems!

5. Let go of limiting financial beliefs. A belief such as, “money is the root of all evil” will only block your prosperity. There is no shame in a modest lifestyle, but there is also nothing noble about lacking money or anything else. Holding a mindset that allows you to be respectful of, but emotionally detached from money will help you make better decisions in every area of life.

6. Don’t be afraid to chart your own path. Scarcity is mostly a matter of mindset and so is abundance. Human creativity can solve any financial problem and find ways to profit along the way. If you can block out the negative feedback and learn to think and act differently than the struggling masses, you may be astonished at what you can accomplish.

7. Spend some money on things that make you feel good. Practical spending is valuable and prudent, but you also deserve to enjoy some of the fruits of your labor. When you buy something that helps you feel good, you encourage a positive emotional response to money and feed your abundance mindset. When you feel better about yourself, you naturally tend to be more productive.

Never allow yourself to be a slave to finances

An obsessive view of money can foster unhealthy responses like greed and dishonesty. This can be true whether a person has a lot or a little. When money has that kind of power in a person’s life, they become its slave.

When we have the mindset that money is just a tool, and avoid forming an emotional attachment to it, we are in control. Remember, it’s just printed paper with no intrinsic value whatsoever. You, on the other hand, are extremely valuable. The more you actively share your unique value with the world, the greater your sense of self-worth and abundance will become.

Do you view income as emotionally influential?
Does your sense of self-worth fluctuate with your finances?
The lines are open!

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74 Comments

  1. Nea November 19, 2010 Reply

    This is an absolutely amazing article. I think it is so important for people to force themselves out of a poverty mindset. Waiting to give and hoarding what we have are evidence of insecurity. It’s hard to attract new financial resources when you’re not at peace with those currently available.

    • Jonathan November 19, 2010 Reply

      So right Nea, there is so much bad news spin that it really does take a concerted effort to think in a positive direction.

  2. Sandra Lee November 20, 2010 Reply

    Jonathan,

    This is really a fascinating look at money. I am honestly terrible with money. I know, I know – that’s the wrong attitude! I’ll need to work on that. I especially loved these lines:

    “You, on the other hand, are extremely valuable. The more you actively share your unique value with the world, the greater your sense of self-worth will become.”

    • Jonathan November 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi Sandra, I think that the energy around money is so convoluted because there is a lot of emotional crossover. So much of what we do in life requires money that it can be challenging to keep money in it proper place.

  3. Ande Waggener November 20, 2010 Reply

    A powerful post, especially #2. I hadn’t thought about how giving in other ways besides giving money is still keeping that flow going. Thank you for that!

    And #3 applies to so many things. We tend to put off the fun until we _____ fill in the blank with get more money, lose weight, get married, get more successful etc. Life is NOW. What are we waiting for?

    • Jonathan November 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi Ande, I like to say that if you aren’t in the present, then where are you. Is easy to forget that all life happens in the now.

  4. Vid November 20, 2010 Reply

    I especially liked the first one, about not disclosing your finances to other people – this is really hard sometimes, people like family and friends can be very pushy to know how much you earn

    • Jonathan November 20, 2010 Reply

      It’s interesting that you said “disclosing” considering that I was actually talking about money management. But that (disclosing) is an excellent point as well. Some people seem to like to measure one another based on income.

      • Vid November 28, 2010 Reply

        Yes and very often people would ask you first about how much do you earn when you tell them that you got a new job.

  5. Carolee November 20, 2010 Reply

    This is a wonderful article!

    I have been making a BIG attempt to get rid of junk – I always keep things “just in case” which I perceive as a negative mindset…..

    …and I have been into “bartering” or trading services lately…..

    It really does seem that the more you give- the more you get. I even have a story about that! Maybe it will become a post!

    • Jonathan November 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi Carolee, that is an excellent way to let go of any latent hoarding tendencies. Good job.

  6. Matt Clark November 20, 2010 Reply

    Great post Jonathan, I have to remind myself of these simple tips often. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jonathan November 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi Matt, we all need reminders. Sometimes I write this stuff just to remind myself. Thanks for all the support lately, really appreciated.

  7. Purplume November 20, 2010 Reply

    When I got divorced I put quite as bit of time and effort into overcoming poverty consciousness.
    I must have succeeded because I recently went on a trip to Japan and am feeling overwhelming contentment. There is no way I can think of myself as anything but a princess.

    • Jonathan November 20, 2010 Reply

      “Poverty consciousness,” that’s an excellent description. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Ghislaine November 20, 2010 Reply

    Don’t know if there is something wrong with my computer but I fail to see # 4. Got all the other ones and they are great!!

    • Jonathan November 22, 2010 Reply

      Hi Ghislaine, your computer is fine. Somehow #4 got dropped in the editor and I didn’t notice before I published the article. Thanks for the heads up!

  9. Travis November 20, 2010 Reply

    Great post! Love the emphasis on creativity as a mean to solve all money problems. I also resonated with this line:

    “Being respectful of, but emotionally detached from money will help you make better decisions in every area of life.”

    Wise words indeed.

    • Jonathan November 20, 2010 Reply

      Thanks Travis, having faith in our own ability to creatively solve financial challenges can lead to some pretty amazing solutions.

  10. Stuart November 21, 2010 Reply

    It’s interesting these days that not only is money just printed pieces of paper, but the majority of money in today’s world doesn’t even exist physically! It’s all electronic!

    Amazing how far technology has come, but the main point is is that, as you say Jonathan, money has no set value of its own; it’s the value you give to it. A milionaire will look at a £5/$5 note much differently than a homeless man would, as would a small child.

    Also, I don’t know whether you noticed, but #4 seems to have gone missing! Thought I’d let you know :-)

    • Jonathan November 21, 2010 Reply

      Stuart, thanks for the heads up on #4, not sure how that got past me, but not all that surprised either. Maybe it vanished into the electronic world along with all that money (ha).

  11. Ivan S. November 21, 2010 Reply

    Well you really opened my mind. Now I look at money from a different point of view that I wasn’t able to see before. Thanks.

    • Jonathan November 22, 2010 Reply

      Thanks Ivan, our view of money is often programed into us from a young age and can vary widely depending on our experience. For example, those who grow up in a wealthy family will naturally have a different perception of money than those who grew up in poverty.

  12. Steven November 21, 2010 Reply

    Our view of money is so important. At one extreme, people say it is the “root of all evil,” (as you mentioned). At the other extreme, we can be greedy and gluttonous.

    In a recent article I mentioned how money is neither good OR bad – it is just a tool. I think you proved this very eloquently here.

    I would also add that we should always save a portion of our income. For two reason:

    A) It protects against future uncertainties where we might need extra money.

    B) Through savings we can eventually make larger investments to help increase our productivity and well-being for the future.

    Again, great article Jon – going to Tweet it right now!

    • Jonathan November 22, 2010 Reply

      Hey Steven, they say that the one secret to becoming financially well off is to live on half of what you earn, or as you said: “always save a portion of our income.” This has become increasingly more challenging as prices rise across the board. The availability of easy credit seems to have created the mentality of “live on twice what you earn and charge the difference.” Sadly, the reality of this irresponsible approach is now reflected in the current economic situation.

      • Jason February 15, 2013 Reply

        Jonathan, I’m feeling that more and more these days. It’s not a small feat to be the sole breadwinner, own a house, support a wife and two kids on six figures anymore (let alone that’s that top 13% of this country).

        Being responsible is becoming less of a concern as being able to survive. Spending on a whim is now a choice between convenience and being able to put food in your fridge.

  13. Stephen November 22, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan

    “To some degree, our sense of self-worth and security tends to rise and fall with our income.”

    This is so true and so wrong. If it’s not money it’s output of some other kind; how much we are “getting done”. We’ve got to stop measuring ourselves by external factors.

    I also believe the greatest security one can have is your ability to be adaptable and continue to learn and grow. As long as you have something of value to provide, you will be ok.

    • Jonathan November 22, 2010 Reply

      Hi Stephen, you said: “This is so true and so wrong.” Man, we could sure apply that statement to a long list of behaviors and response patterns these days. After I read that it just kept echoing around in my head. So much of what we need to think to stay balanced is the exact opposite of what we are taught or trained to think.

  14. Steve November 22, 2010 Reply

    Jonathan, I very much enjoyed this article, as it strikes close to home. I have gone from the extreme of hoarding, to being too generous, and to spending too freely, then back again. A healthy balance is what’s needed, and that comes with adopting healthy versus self-limiting money beliefs. Thanks for the great insights.

    • Jonathan November 22, 2010 Reply

      Hi Steve, see how much experience has taught you? That’s because you are paying attention an applying what you learn on this amazing journey called life. I think that we often find balance only after having tested the extremes in both directions.

  15. Robin Easton November 22, 2010 Reply

    Wow! This is fascinating and exceedingly wise. I love this part: “You, on the other hand, are extremely valuable. The more you actively share your unique value with the world, the greater your sense of self-worth will become.”

    YES! I have found this not only to be true, but very healing. It creates a powerful super-charged feeling of abundance, self-worth, richness, vitality, and “anything is possible” feeling.

    I also loved that part about, not putting life off. Yes, be prudent, but man, we really DO have to live. Not living fully is often accounts for so much of our misery.

    This whole article is not only a wonderful balance between being prudent and “living”, but it radiates a strong sense of hope and freedom. I really like that!! You always strike me as a very well balanced person, very grounded and yet liberating. Powerful combination that few have.

    Thank you Jonathan.
    Hugs,
    Robin

    • Jonathan November 22, 2010 Reply

      Hi Robin, I can’t help but wonder if balance isn’t in the eye of the beholder. If we asked a money fixated, upwardly mobile, profit at any cost corporate shark, they would probably have a slightly different take on my state of balance (that was fun!).

      In the long run, balance is the goal (for me anyway). I think this is one of the greatest lessons that we learn from experiencing life. The other lesson is that balance is often the most challenging position and requires constant attention.

      So nice to have you visit Robin!

  16. jonathanfigaro November 22, 2010 Reply

    Great work. The idea is I own money, money doesn’t own me. Thats what it’s about. Changing your perception, therefore changing your life.

    • Jonathan November 22, 2010 Reply

      Hey Jonathan, so it’s the old owner / owned dilemma! In our family we have two cats that we supposedly own. So, we feed them and care for them. We play with them, show them love, and do everything we can to make sure they have the best life possible. Sometimes I wonder, who owns who?

  17. Andrzej November 23, 2010 Reply

    “Don’t expect money to solve all your problems” – I have to internalize this thought because all too often I look at money as a universal solution ;]

    • Jonathan November 28, 2010 Reply

      Hi Andrzej, that’s the way we are conditioned to look at money. It’s an illusion!

  18. Barry November 26, 2010 Reply

    You’re perfectly right that we connect our personal value to money and that this is a problem. But I think the problem is not in thinking about money but rather in that we cover lack of something else with it. Our civilization don’t show us how to build healthy relationships – and this is the core problem.

    • Jonathan November 28, 2010 Reply

      So right Barry, it’s very common to try to cover almost any lack with more money. That’s why obtaining lots of money can be a disappointment on certain levels for those who thought it would fix everything.

  19. Ari November 27, 2010 Reply

    Should I extrapolate, Jonathan, that you disapprove of the role of the so-called “job seeker,” on a continual mission to find the best job to do the most productive work for the best money? After all, who’s going to spend a lot of time finding volunteer work for no pay? We spend time looking for the gold ring that pays off.

    Do you suggest our Western belief of job hunting is skewed?

    • Jonathan November 28, 2010 Reply

      Not at all Ari, being generously rewarded for our productivity is a good thing. My concern was with becoming so emotionally attached to money that it skews our values and perceptions. All of us would rather make $500 per hour than $5. But regardless of our income, we wouldn’t want to confuse our market value with our value as a person.

  20. Chris Ginsburg November 28, 2010 Reply

    Money is a tool. Nothing more and nothing less. It helps you achieve things that you can not without it. Just as my car is a tool to get me to the store. I help others through my profession as well as my website. It is infinitely more rewarding than holding wads of paper. Don’t get me wrong, money has it’s place but it does not have control over me.

    • Jonathan December 25, 2010 Reply

      Hi Chris, sounds like you’ve got a very balanced and healthy relationship with money. Congratulations, that’s a pretty rare thing.

  21. james January 6, 2011 Reply

    Awesome post. Too many people focus only on what they get out of something, and I think the mindset people have about money. When I started my business, I didnt think about the money I could make, I looked at what I could provide based on my past that could help people.

    By doing that, I am better able to relate to people, and really help people to create the changes that they need to succeed. I really like how you talk about the exchange. Yes, it needs to go both ways at some point, but if you give, you will get back.

    Part of this though is not to expect to get back. When you are giving anything, focus on what you give, and be free with your giving, whether you get anything in return or not, and you can see a huge difference. I also find that I am happier when I give than when I receive, and that happiness lasts longer.

    I get more satisfaction and joy from watching someone succeed at making a change in their life than I do from seeing a huge wad of cash in the bank. the money will be nice, but it disappears all too quickly, the joy of knowing you helped someone will be with you for the rest of your life.

  22. Jonathan January 6, 2011 Reply

    Hi James, I also try to always think in terms of creating value and making a contribution. Those are the forces that drive my work, which I enjoy very much.

  23. michelle April 6, 2011 Reply

    Great Article…Thank you for your insights and wisdom!

    • Jonathan April 7, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Michelle, so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for being here!

  24. Michelle April 15, 2011 Reply

    This is the best blog post I’ve come across in a long time. I’ve just followed you on twitter and liked you on facebook. I can’t wait to read more.

  25. Chris September 24, 2011 Reply

    I agree with you that money is a tool, but Bob Proctor takes it a step further and says that money serves two purposes: 1) to make you comfortable 2) to extend your reach (i.e. allow you to provide service to more people). The only point I would add is to add that when we are talking about making money, its really about providing value. I think its great to change our view of money, but it also helps when we alter our means of earning money. So when we get beyond our limiting beliefs and chart our own paths, etc; and provide service/value to people-we will be rewarded most likely in money as it the most common medium of exchange.

  26. Yvon October 17, 2011 Reply

    Jonathan, this is a great article and I agree we take our interaction with money too seriously at times. I’m in agreement that with the right mindset our reaction and response with the proper use of money is much more valuable . I plan to share your insights with my readers. Good job!!

  27. Alex August 20, 2012 Reply

    Great article, I love it. I think we are so much being influenced by the media, that money will result in happiness and all that, that so many people are trying to keep up with Joneses no matter what… but it does not make them happier.

    One thing I always keep in mind is, that in the end I cannot take my belongings into my grave; I try to live a comfortable life while I am alive, to experience new things, an adventure travel or fresh seafood at the French coast. These experiences are so much more important to me than all the fancy possessions some people are so attached to.

  28. Abraham October 25, 2012 Reply

    The easiest way to look at it is like this… If you have $1,000,000 dollars, ponds, euros, yuan etc. and there where no goods/services or food to buy what do have? A bunch of useless ass paper burn it to stay warm…

  29. JB May 2, 2013 Reply

    Awesome Blog! My friend Tony Robbins once said you can have a billion dollars and still be unhappy. The key is to continue to grow in all areas of your life!!

  30. jefferson faudan July 23, 2013 Reply

    great article… but i’d rather keep my attachment to it. it’s much easier to say these things when you’re in a position where everything is convenient and problems are petty (such as love life which doesn’t require anything but emotion and a little logic) while financial issues on the other side are serious issues that can turn your life 360 degrees before you know it….

  31. jefferson faudan July 23, 2013 Reply

    great article… but i’d rather keep my attachment to it. it’s much easier to say these things when you’re in a position where everything is convenient and problems are petty (such as love life which doesn’t require anything but emotion and a little logic) while financial issues on the other side are serious issues that can turn your life 360 degrees around before you know it….

  32. Maekel July 23, 2013 Reply

    Excellent advice for me . Loved it!

  33. KayKay July 25, 2013 Reply

    Money is just a TOOL! Now if I could just get that drilled in my head I’d be a lot better off.

  34. Jason May 18, 2014 Reply

    Absolutely fantastic article here. I write and speak quite a bit on this topic, and it’s nice to see that someone else gets it! In all honesty, money isn’t anything. Even the things it buys are for the most part useless. The only constant underneath the machinery of business/supply/demand is human relationships and the choices we make in regards to them. Fear-based thinking is the ultimate self-limitation for those seeking true self-fulfillment! Keep up the great work! : )

  35. Eric D. Greene June 13, 2014 Reply

    I love just thinking about this and the ways to improve. I’ve been listening to T Harv Eker lately and love his advice about the money blueprint we each have in our heads and how it affects our financial lives. It all comes down to our belief systems, doesn’t it! – Eric

  36. lynne June 15, 2014 Reply

    Hi , this is definitely a great article ! I think being obsessed with money can end up in greed and dishonesty. Money can really make a great impact in controlling a persons life. Like what you’ve said, we should adjust our mindset about money, the different ways you mentioned are really very helpful indeed. Thanks for sharing.

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