You guys are no strangers to my background with money - I was, to put it bluntly, awful with it until a couple of years ago. Any money I earned would quickly be spent on…I don’t even know what…and I’d be broke until I got paid again. It was a vicious cycle which left me feeling like I wanted to throw up every time I even thought about money.
I can honestly say that now, I have a great relationship with money, I’m a lot more relaxed around it and don’t get sweaty palmed when an unexpected expense arises.
To get to this point, I had to do a lot of work to improve my mindset. While some think it’s a bit airy-fairy, anyone with half a brain can tell you that having the right mindset is crucial to being successful and happy. Here’s what I did.
I uncovered my “money story”
We all have a money story - beliefs we have about money, whether we’re aware of them or not. We’re shaped by how our parents and others around us manage money as we grow up, and by any experiences we have ourselves.
The best way to find out what your money story is is to grab a notebook and write down every thought and experience you’ve had involving money. Did your parents struggle to pay for things? Were they well-off but always working, or constantly arguing about money? Were you taught how to manage and save money or that it was rude to even mention it? These are all things that affect the way we understand and deal with money, and once we know what they are we can start to work on changing them.
I let go of the past
Once I knew my money story, I had to let go of my former beliefs about money in order to improve my situation. No more resentment that I hadn’t had the same things my classmates had. No more feeling angry that I had to work during uni. No more feeling jealous of people who had been given money to go towards their house deposit.
My life is my responsibility, and that includes the financial stuff. The past is the past, and it can’t be changed so it’s unhelpful to dwell on it. I went through my list of money thoughts and experiences and forgave everyone who had contributed to it, as well as myself for the mistakes I’d made in the past. It was emotional, but ultimately I felt better afterwards, and ready for a new start.
I found out where my money was actually going
This has been a little emotional so far, so here’s a practical step I took. For one month, I recorded every single thing I bought. Then I analysed it to see what I was actually spending my money on. Oh. My. Gosh. While there weren’t many big purchases in there, the amount I was frittering away on little things was crazy! Not to mention the daily trips to Tesco to get dinner.
Tracking my spending allowed me to see where I could save money and improve my financial situation. I started to put time aside once a week to plan my meals for the week and order my food shopping instead of deciding on the day and picking up magazines and chocolate while I was in the supermarket. I cancelled any subscription I didn’t need and made sure all my bills were due to come out on the same day by direct debit so I could see how much much I actually had to see me through the month.
I changed the way I talked about money
I think the way we talk about things has a huge effect on our actions, and if that’s too woo-woo for you, think about this: if you think that you’re lazy, stupid and never achieve any of your goals, do you make a real effort to change that, or do you make a half-hearted attempt to protect yourself from trying and failing?
Anyway, I stopped saying things like “I’m rubbish with money”, “I spend all my money on crap” and “I’m so skint” and started writing positive affirmations in my journal twice a day (I like these ones, if you need some inspo), instead. I was extremely skeptical at first, but it had a surprisingly good effect. It helped me to make better decisions with my money and stop spending mindlessly.
I stopped judging others
As I started paying attention to my own thoughts and feelings around money, I started to notice the way the people around me talked about money and what they spent it on. We all have our own money stories which affect the way we deal with it.
I noticed that friends who said they couldn’t afford nights out were happy to splash out on holidays to Australia, and that fellow business owners who proclaimed themselves “too broke” to invest in their businesses would share fancy meals out and things they had bought on their Instagram Stories. I noticed that people who didn’t talk negatively about money, but shared how it had helped them to improve their lives, seemed much more content.
At first, I found this infuriating. Couldn’t these people see that if they changed the way they dealt with money, they’d be better off?
But I’ve learned to stop judging others based on what they decide to say or do about their own finances. It’s none of my business, for starters. But also, you don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life or their financial situation. In the past couple of years, I’ve become much more open-minded, become much better at listening and only offer advice when someone has asked me to and I know the details.
I realised that I was enough
I used to think that I was one outfit, one hairstyle, one #goals trip away from being a shiny, new, better person. This isn’t true. No matter my financial situation, I will always be me, and this is true for everyone.
If you find yourself buying new things, whether it’s clothes, food or anything else you can buy, to make you feel better know this: it’s a temporary fix and it won’t make you happy, and if you aren’t happy you’ll keep being tempted to buy things to fill the void. But the only real way you can fill that hole up is by working on yourself and accepting who you are. You are enough.
Once I realised this, it was like a fog had lifted. I still enjoy nice things, but I buy them because I want to, not because I think they’re going to change my life. The amount of money I have does not affect my value as a human. That on it’s own has vastly improved the way I handle my finances.
I'm a financial coach helping women to to manage their money and live fulfilling, financially sustainable lives. If you're ready to take control of your money and reach your financial goals, click a button below to find out how I can help you to master your money.
I also create courses and resources to help female entrepreneurs to manage their business finances.