How to Uncover Your Money Beliefs

Do you have money habits that you’ve tried to change but found that you… just can’t?

Well, reading It’s Not About The Money by Brent Kessel helped me understand that there are certain money habits wired into us since childhood. We’re likely not fully aware of them, but our subconscious mind will keep going back to them.

Which means that they’ll keep playing out no matter how much money we have.

So if you’ve ever thought “oh I’ll be able to save better when I’m making more money!” and then proceeded to not save more despite earning more money… that’s why.

In order to change our behaviour when it comes to money, we need to uncover the unconscious beliefs we hold about money.  

How to uncover your unconscious beliefs about money

Your beliefs about money were formed very early on, in response to powerful emotional experiences with money. 

Think back to your earliest memories around money. 

What did you hear or see? Did you have any painful memories?

Were you taught to think a certain way about money by your parents or the people around you? Or by things you saw in the media?

Have a good think about it and jot down some ideas.

For me, the main things I can remember are:

  • Getting pocket money on a regular basis growing up = oh, money comes easily!
  • Getting denied something by my parents, because I didn’t earn money yet and had to rely on them to get big-ticket items = when I make my own money I’ll get whatever the hell I want!

Chances are, your past experiences have led to some deeply entrenched beliefs and habits.

Money comes easily… i.e. not appreciating the value of money

My first job involved standing in a retail store for hours on end and I’d come home with extremely sore feet. But when it came to spending the money I’d earned, it’s like I’d completely forget how much work I had to put in.

I don’t think, “oh, this bag is the equivalent of me spending X hours at work!”

If I thought of it like that, I’d probably think twice about buying a lot of things. I mean, I knew money didn’t just grow on trees.

When I make my own money I’ll get whatever the hell I want!

This is like “feel-good” spending. “I’ll buy it because I can!”

It’s like the little kid in me going HAH I can buy it myself, so you can just suck it! Not that my parents are there to witness it or that they’d give two shits about it… 🙄

I guess it’s a form of self-validation.

Discovering your financial archetypes

After working with many clients over the years, Brent managed to come up with eight different ‘archetypes’ based on their behaviour. Think of it as… money personalities.

Most people are a combination of more than one archetype, though one or two are probably dominant.

Have a look at this list and identify the thoughts and behaviours that you resonate with.

You’re always super, super cautious. You don’t just save for a rainy day, you save for a potential DOOMSDAY! Even if you’re in a secure financial situation, you just won’t stop worrying.

Strengths:

  • Careful about their finances

Weaknesses:

  • Makes fear-driven decisions
  • Constantly anxious about finances

YOLO baby! You live in the now and know how to enjoy the finer things in life. What’s the point of having money if you can’t splurrrrrge? Different from The Star because spending is mostly for personal satisfaction and not external validation.

Strengths:

  • Knows how to enjoy life WOOOOO!

Weaknesses:

  • Doesn’t save much
  • Spends on stuff that isn’t essential

You think that money is the root of all evil! The capitalist system is corrupt! Inequality is bad! Money causes allllll your problems!

Strengths:

  • Cares about social justice

Weaknesses:

  • Doesn’t focus on money
  • Feels shame and embarrassment regarding financial matters

A less extreme version of The Guardian. You fear that your money might run out, so you pile up your savings to create a sense of security. You’re frugal AF.

Strengths:

  • Well… probably have a significant amount of savings and thus financially secure

Weaknesses:

  • Feel a lot of pain when money is lost due to their strong emotional attachment to money
  • Have trouble spending on things that are enjoyable and that they can afford

You just want attention. And recognition, significance, respect or prestige. All of the above! Money buys love. Different from the Pleasure Seeker because spending is focused on external validation.

Strengths:

  • Cares about their appearance

Weaknesses:

  • Cares too much about what others think about them
  • Spends a lot to create an image of attractiveness or success… whilst feeling empty on the inside

Tryna manage money is just too hard, too complicated, too confusing, and you’re just not good at it. You would rather get a root canal without anaesthesia than figure out your finances. (I kid you not, that is a quote from the book.)

Strengths:

  • I’m not sure if this archetype has any strengths BUT the good thing is their situation can be changed with a mindset shift

Weaknesses:

  • Doesn’t feel competent or capable when it comes to managing money
  • Most likely to participate in lotteries because desperation makes get-rich-quick schemes attractive

You just LOVE to help others. Family, friends, strangers. You probably give a lot to charity. BUT you have a hard time spending money on yourself…

Strengths:

  • Helps people who are in need

Weaknesses:

  • Helps people too much, which can create dependencies
  • Doesn’t care enough about themselves

You love building something bigger than yourself and spend most of your waking hours doing it. You’re most likely an entrepreneur and you constantly look to bring your business(es) to greater heights. It’s about leaving a legacy!

Strengths:

  • Motivated to work towards huge goals and make a significant contribution to the world

Weaknesses:

  • Can lead to workaholic tendencies that ruin relationships
  • Can fall into the trap of letting their work or monetary status define them — if the business is gone or they retire, it’s like they’ve lost their sense of purpose

Each archetype comes with its set of strengths and weaknesses. The message of the book is to identify them so you can leverage your strengths and find ways to make up for your weaknesses.

Life as a Pleasure Seeker

As a typical Pleasure Seeker, I have trouble thinking about the future. I live life on YOLO mode. As you can probably tell, this stems from the two key beliefs I’ve developed since childhood.

I remember trying to budget. I had categories for my expenses and allotted a certain amount to each category. BUT even though my budgeting app said I had no money left, I still had money left in my bank account. I could SEE it!

Sooooooooo I spent it. 🤭

But who says that you HAVE to have a budget

I’ve learned that a simpler way of ensuring that I don’t over-spend is to transfer my money allocated for savings and investments out of my main bank account so that I don’t SEE it.

DON’T KEEP YOUR SAVINGS AND DAILY EXPENSE ACCOUNTS IN THE SAME BANK!!!! OTHERWISE, THE ABILITY TO TRANSFER WITH A CLICK OF A BUTTON IS TOOOOOO TEMPTING… unless you have stellar self-discipline of course. Needless to say, I don’t.

I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it (yeah)

Ariana Grande, 7 Rings

Of course, you’ll have to spend some time upfront tracking your expenses so that you can work out the allocations (expenses, savings, investment) and set up these transfers.

But once this system is set up, you no longer need to keep track of every single expense – i.e. it doesn’t have to be painful.

This means that I can enjoy life within my means without sacrificing my future. 

Awareness is Key

Once you’re aware of your underlying beliefs and thought processes, you become more conscious of what is driving your decisions.

A friend once told the story of how she’d contemplated hiring a cleaner to clean her place up since she was really busy at work.

She had so much resistance to the idea even though she could easily afford it.

Finding it rather strange that she was having so much trouble grappling with it, she had a think about what was going on. Then, she realised that because her parents could never afford a cleaner when she was growing up, she felt like she couldn’t justify it now.

Thinking logically, seeing that both she and her parents were in a much better financial situation now, she was able to hire a cleaner without fretting so much about it.

Over to you…

What beliefs did you uncover? Did any of them surprise you?

How can you see your underlying beliefs affecting your day-to-day decisions?

Can you find ways to combat your weaknesses?

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