May 3, 2024

Start Making Good Money Moves by Destroying Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs are beliefs that keep you from doing something. Some limiting beliefs are helpful because they keep you safe (e.g. you believe you can’t fly, so you don’t jump off a cliff). But often, they stem from maladaptive narratives we tell ourselves and are a detriment to our success.

How Limiting Beliefs Harm Us

Limiting beliefs harm us because they hold us back from being the best version of ourselves. You might think “I’m bad with money” and continue to be bad with money because your belief precipitates your attitude. It becomes a vicious cycle if you don’t deploy strategies to break down your limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering beliefs.

How to Find Limiting Beliefs 

Sometimes limiting beliefs can be hard to find. Take a moment to reflect on these questions. 

Where is my comfort zone with money? Finding your comfort zone with money allows you to explore outside your comfort zone. You need to know where you feel safe or unsafe financially. For example, your comfort zone could be a certain amount of money in the bank. You might be able to save $5,000 but spend everything beyond that because $5,000 is your comfort level. There’s a limiting belief that you don’t need or don’t deserve to have more than $5,000 in the bank. An empowering belief would encourage you to save more. 
What beliefs about myself keep me “safe”? Safety is a driving force of many limiting beliefs. But that doesn’t mean that limiting beliefs actually keep you safe. Instead, they might be harmful. Examine how you feel about money and what you believe about money. Do these beliefs make you feel safe? Can you see anywhere your thoughts might be holding you back instead?
Examine your childhood money culture. Your childhood money culture plays a huge role in how you perceive your success as an adult. Were you food secure or insecure? What did your parents say about money? Did you feel financially capable or did finances seem like a mystery? The more time you spend here getting to know yourself will allow you to start to see themes of money security or insecurity, and your limiting beliefs are going to be based on that.
What was I told I “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” do as a kid? The way you’re raised shapes your beliefs about money. If you never had any money in the house, you might feel like you have to hoard money and refuse to spend on important things, like dental care and vision exams. If you had a lot of money, you might believe there’s more where that came from and develop a spending problem. Ask yourself how your parents dealt with and talked about money. Do you see any overlap in how you each handle money? That overlap can reveal a lot about the way you interact with money.
What am I subconsciously committed to? This question focuses on how you show up for yourself financially. What are the stories you tell yourself about money? Do you believe you’re bad with money and act out financially? Do you believe that you’re a saver to the detriment of your health and well-being? Are you “on the grind” financially? Really dig into who you are and who you are committed to being in this question. See if there are any harmful beliefs that pop up in this thought exercise. 
What beliefs do I share with the majority of my family and friends? Finding out where you’re similar to other people can help you differentiate yourself. It’s said that you’re most like the five people closest to you. So examine their views around money as well. Where are they harmful? Where are they helpful? Do you find yourself “keeping up with the Joneses”? If so, why? What deep-seated beliefs encourage this behavior when you could be using money elsewhere? 
In what ways are my beliefs different from those of my family and friends? You’re not going to believe everything exactly the same as someone else. If you do, re-examine your beliefs and ask yourself if you truly have your own beliefs. Ask yourself the following questions to find out where your beliefs may be unique: Where do your views differ? Are the differences helpful or harmful? Examining how you’re different gives you insight into who you are as a person and can help you find your strengths and weaknesses.
In what areas of life am I afraid to be wrong? When we pinpoint our fears, we can start to see limiting beliefs form. Especially where we’re afraid to be wrong. Our limiting beliefs can stem from fear because they become a mechanism to try to keep ourselves safe. Where is fear cropping up in your life? Work? Home? Do you have any limiting beliefs that stem from that fear? Maybe the fear of failure is holding you back from starting a business. Maybe it’s stopping you from being honest with yourself about credit card debt
What are some things about myself I’ve always thought to be true? These could be anything from a comment about how you’re a mess or how you’re bad with money. They’re the little mantras we tell ourselves that fuel our ideology about money. Some things you might think are true turn out to be false. You’re not bad with money, you just haven’t learned how to be good with money yet. You’re not stupid, you just don’t know everything. 
In what ways can I detect outside ideas influencing my daily decisions? Media and keeping up with the Joneses is a huge area where you can find yourself trying to be something you’re not. When this happens, it’s important to step back and redefine your own goals and values. 
What would I do if I knew I absolutely could not fail? This question helps you think beyond your limitations to help broaden your horizons. Knowing what you want can help you push past limiting beliefs and drive you toward success.

How to Address Limiting Beliefs 

Once you’ve started uncovering limiting beliefs, you’ll need to take steps to correct them. This is a long and arduous process of thinking through them and starting to challenge and replace limiting beliefs with empowering beliefs.

Uncouple your emotions. Emotions are a huge factor in finances, and often, emotions can be harmful to your finances. Notice what emotions come up when you think about and interact with money. What do you feel? Shame? Guilt? Why? If we feel shame or guilt, it’s because something isn’t lining up with our values and we need to address it.
Remove money blind spots. Money blind spots are areas in finance you don’t know about or that you’ve been ignoring. Part of retraining limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs is facing your ignorance and getting informed. Do some research on the money topics you’re scared of. Investing, saving, and spending could all be categories you tend to ignore.
Rewrite your story. You get to define who you are. No one else does. Even if you’ve been foreclosed on before, and that’s your financial story, you can pick up the pen and change it. Decide who you want to be, and then make progress toward that decision.
Deploy realistic solutions. You’re not going to change who you are overnight, so start with attainable goals. Let’s say you want to start cutting out junk food to save money. Instead of going cold turkey, practice being more intentional with what you buy. Over time, you’ll start to see a difference in where your money is being spent. Do you want to be a better saver? Send $20 to savings every month. When that feels easier, add a bit more. Soon you’ll be saving $100 a paycheck. Once you’ve mastered saving, do the same with investing. 
Explore money myths. Money myths are things you tell yourself about money. Here are a few examples to get you started. 

“Budgets are boring.” Budgets aren’t boring—they tell a story about you. Start thinking of your budget as a friend who wants what’s best for you. Record what you’re spending and see what your money is telling you. From there, you can make adjustments to your spending.
“I’m just crap at money.” No one is crap at anything, they just haven’t built the skill set yet. Try to give yourself grace when this money myth rears its ugly head. Write down three things you want to focus on to be better at money, and then read them to yourself every day. Over time, you’ll start to see a change in behavior to match what you’re focusing on. 
“Talking about money is off limits.” Talk about your money often. Dealing with money can feel isolating, but some of my best friends and I got closer because we started talking about finances. 
“I’ll start saving later—I want to enjoy my money now.” Now is the time to start saving. Learn to enjoy your money responsibly, or you’re never going to save.
“My partner manages the money, so I don’t have to worry about it.” Get involved with your money, even if your partner manages most of it. Ask questions, look at the budget, and get familiar with where money is going. 

Dive deeper into money beliefs. Your money beliefs influence how you see your financial self. Take some time to explore them to the fullest. Here are a few to get you started.

“I don’t have enough money to be successful.” If this is what you think about yourself, then you need to drill down on what it means to be successful. Are there ways you can define success that don’t focus on finances? In which areas of your life could you choose to highlight success that doesn’t have to do with finances? Maybe you don’t make a lot of money but have success in your personal relationships, health, or hobbies. Broadening your horizons will help you feel better about yourself without worrying about your financial situation.
“Money causes stress and conflict in relationships.” In some cases, money is an intense stressor. So if this is your belief about money, know you’re not alone. But you need to figure out why it causes stress and conflict in your relationships. Maybe you and your spouse have different savings goals. Or maybe one partner makes more than the other partner. In these cases, inequality is the root of the problem, not money itself. If you can take the stress off of the money and work through the issues you’re having with your partner about different values, you’ll be able to have better conversations about finances.
“I’m not good enough to make a lot of money.” I hope you never feel this way, but if you do, you’re not alone. Why do you think you’re not good enough? Who told you that? Pinpoint the moment you started believing this about yourself, and then turn it around: “I am good enough to make a lot of money, even if I’m not making a lot of money now.” Consider the profession you’re in as well. Some of the most meaningful work is in professions that don’t pay enough for the amount of work required. If this is you, you’re definitely good enough to make a lot of money—your profession is just affected by systemic inequality. Do the best you can and know you are a good enough person. 
“Having money means being greedy and selfish.” Having money doesn’t mean being greedy or selfish. That’s a common lie. Stop telling yourself that and instead switch it out to say, “Having money means I’m protecting myself from the world.” Money is a means of protection. It’s the difference between being prepared for an emergency and not being prepared for an emergency. And it’s okay to stockpile money. That’s your way of protecting yourself from calamity.
“There is not enough money to go around.” This money mindset encourages a scarcity mindset instead of an abundance mindset. An abundance mindset will remind you that it’s okay to have money, and the money you have doesn’t subtract from the money anyone else has. If there is room in this world for multiple billionaires, there is room in this world for you and your wealth. While I don’t recommend hoarding billions of dollars, everyone deserves to have enough wealth to live comfortably. Give yourself permission to be wealthy, even if you’re not wealthy yet. 

Have a solid financial plan—despite any limiting beliefs. Ultimately, limiting beliefs are going to crop up whether you want them to or not. Having a solid financial plan despite your beliefs is going to set you up for the best success. But what is a financial plan? It starts with a budget. Go through your finances and see where you spend money and where you save money. Put together a spending plan that covers all your bills, fun spending, and other expenses. Ensure you’re saving money, too. Once you have a solid financial plan, you’ll be able to grow your wealth despite any limiting beliefs.