Want to know what makes one person successful with money and another give up? It’s simple: It’s their money mindset. What you believe about money, yourself, and the world shapes how your life will unfold. Every single day you have the power to make decisions that will move you forward financially or set you back. It’s up to you.
You guys may have heard me talk about Ramsey money principles like you should make a budget every month, live on less than you make, and don’t use debt to pay for stuff. But none of that matters if you don’t believe it’s possible to live that way, or if you’re not motivated to live that way. So many people hit the snooze button on their finances as if they’ll just wake up one day and be able to retire. Maybe they hope to take their money more seriously later in life. Or maybe they think winning with money is only for “rich people.”
If that’s you, you’ve got to change your mindset. Your parents can’t make you care. Your spouse can’t make you care. And as much as I wish I could, I can’t make you care. It’s on you to change your mindset. The good news is, you can!
What Is Money Mindset?
Your money mindset is your unique set of beliefs and your attitude about money. It drives the decisions you make about saving, spending, and handling money. People who have a healthy money mindset believe things like:
- I have the freedom to spend, but I can also tell myself no to a purchase.
- I enjoy helping others who are struggling by giving generously.
- I don’t have to compare myself to others.
- It’s possible to achieve my financial goals.
Your money mindset shapes the way you feel about debt, your attitude toward people who make more or less money than you, how easily you can give, your ability to invest with confidence, and more.
How Is Your Money Mindset Formed?
Your money mindset is influenced by many different factors, including the psychology of money itself. Obviously, the experiences you’ve personally had around money will play a big role. Things like if you had a part-time job in high school if you’ve been at the receiving end of generosity, or how openly your parents talked about money growing up.
Think about that last one for a moment. Now, everything that happens in your life is not your parents’ fault. (Read that again.) But more is caught than taught, so the way you saw your parents talk about money—or not talk about it—definitely influenced your attitude about money from an early age.
Thinking about how money was handled in the household you grew up in will help you understand the foundation for your beliefs about money. If you’re married, this can also help you get to the root of money fights you and your spouse may have. Their experience was probably totally different than yours, which means you guys are coming at this big (and sometimes emotional) topic of money from two different perspectives.
The Importance of Understanding Your Money Mindset
Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”
Ramsey Solutions conducted a study of over 10,000 millionaires, and one of the most fascinating statistics to me was that 97% of millionaires believed . . . wait for it . . . that they could become millionaires. They believed that it was within their control. They believed they held the key to their success. And having that mindset—not an inheritance, fancy education, or wealthy parents—is exactly what caused them to succeed.
This can be true for you as well. What you believe will drive your behavior, which will lead to positive results.
You do this in other areas without even realizing it. Do you believe that making your spouse feel special is important to your marriage? Or that you need to have a job to pay rent? Or that “Pizza Fridays” are the best day of the week?
Your behaviors will support those beliefs. That means you’ll probably send texts to your spouse throughout the day, show up to work on time, and make sure you pick up pepperoni at the grocery store by Thursday.
How to Change Your Mindset About Money
I remember when I realized my mindset had shifted. I was fifteen years old when my parents had me open my first checking account, which meant I had to keep a budget. Note: This is not when I developed a healthy money mindset. Far from it! I actually hated having to sit down and think of every little thing I may need to spend money on a month in advance. I also hated having to sometimes tell myself no to shopping. (Spending money has basically been my spiritual gift even from a young age.)
But I did start to realize I’m really good at telling my money where to go. And if I could live within the boundaries of the budget, I could still spend money on things I wanted along the way.
Then, a few years into our marriage, my husband, Winston, and I took a dream vacation to Miami. Winston planned all the details and told me he didn’t even want me to think about the budget. He wanted me to feel free to order whatever treats I wanted and shop to my heart’s content! Ah-mazing, right? But here’s what happened: I actually didn’t like being in the dark about our money. I didn’t feel relaxed about my spending at all. In fact, I begged Winston to let me see the vacation budget because knowing the limit was the only way I could truly enjoy it.
That’s when I realized that, lo and behold, after years of consistently doing a budget, my money mindset had completely changed! Because over time, and through healthy money habits, I learned that a budget doesn’t limit my freedom—it gives me freedom.
We’re not all wired the same, so forcing yourself to do a monthly budget might not be what changes your mindset. (But you need to do it, anyway! It’s vital for your financial health.)
Here are some of the best ways to change your mindset around money:
1. Read books that will influence your mind in a positive way.
Leadership speaker Charles Jones once said, “You’ll be the same person in a year as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” If you want to give your brain the chance to change and grow, pick up a book. Here are some of my favorites in this space:
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- Switch On Your Brain by Caroline Leaf
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
2. Think about your life up until now and ask yourself:
- What did I hear and see about money growing up?
- What’s one thing my parents did with their money that I want to replicate?
- What’s one thing my parents did with their money that I want to do differently?
3. Give away some money.
Giving is the most fun you can have with money. And it’s a proven way to change your money mindset too. It moves you on the spectrum from selfish to selfless. I know you might feel apprehensive at first, or maybe you’re not taking me seriously. Just try it! Commit to giving back some money to help a person or organization in need just once a week.
4. Dream about your retirement.
Picture your life down the road in high definition and let that be your motivation as you plan for retirement today. My friend, bestselling author Chris Hogan, says, “If you can see your dream in every detail—if you can fix your eyes on it—then I know you can muster the effort you need to hit your numbers.”
By the way, if you’re still in debt or don’t have an emergency fund, having a vision for your retirement is still incredibly motivating. Take that dream and let it fuel your passion to get to a place where you can invest even faster!
5. Have the belief that success is possible for you.
No matter your race, religion, level of income—or, to quote some deep, philosophical lyrics from the Backstreet Boys, “I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did . . . ”—you have the power to make your own success. Some people have bigger obstacles in their story than others, but simply believing is the first step. Your behavior will follow your beliefs, making it easier to stick to good habits. And over time, your entire perspective will change for the better.
You CAN Change Your Money Mindset
Okay, you guys. This mindset stuff isn’t just pie in the sky—it’s biblical. Galatians 6:7 (NIV) says, “A man reaps what he sows.” As Earl Nightingale says in The Strangest Secret, “We become what we think about.” That’s exactly why changing your mindset about money actually has the power to change the trajectory of your life.
So, I want you to be so fired up that nothing and no one can stand in your way. Then, I want you to put your focus on the things you can control. Those are the habits that will help you pay off debt and build wealth so that you aren’t the person who gives up.
If you want to make good money habits stick, check out my brand-new book, Know Yourself, Know Your Money. We’ll dig in and find out exactly where your money mindset came from so you can learn how to make lasting change with your money. You can become the person who believes you can win—and once you believe you’ll win, you will.