“I don’t deserve to earn more.”
“My family is bad with money, so I am too.”
The moment that you hear the inner voice in your head repeating a negative money mantra, such as one of the above phrases, it’s important to nip it in the bud.
Not to get all Freudian, but the way you see yourself can play a large role in terms of how you behave, especially when it comes to making decisions about your money.
Below, we examine nine money beliefs and why they can be harmful. Have you ever caught yourself thinking one of these? Well, many of us—if we’re honest—have. Which is why we invited both a financial expert and a psychologist to weigh in on what underlies them, and how you can get to a happier money place.
1. “I’ll always be in debt.”
“This is the mindset of a dependent type of personality,” says Fran Walfish, Psy.D., a Beverly Hills psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent.” Dr. Walfish says this describes “somebody who is afraid to go out into the world and give things a shot on his or her own. Maybe this person feels that Mom or Dad will pull them out of a financial hole. Working on autonomy and independence by taking baby steps is key.”
For example, you may not be able to get out of all your debt right away, but if you try putting a small amount of your own money (even $5 or $10) toward a debt payment, you may find the sense of accomplishment empowering. You can look in the mirror with confidence and say: “I did that—all by myself.” Trust us, this far beats waiting to be rescued.
It’s also critical to keep in mind that there are two kinds of debt: good debt and bad debt, according to LearnVest Planning Services Certified Financial Planner™ David Blaylock. Paying off a mortgage or a student loan is considered “good debt,” because those are investments that can help you earn more money in the long-term.
Auto loans and credit card balances are considered bad debt because they aren’t moving you toward building wealth over time—cars depreciate (instead of growing in value like a house or enabling you to increase your earning potential like education) and paying credit card interest just means that your purchases become more expensive over time. Don’t get down on yourself if you have good debt. “Focus first on getting rid of any bad debt,” says Blaylock.
2. “My family is bad with money, so I am too.”
The problem with this is, you’re not your family, and you probably earn your own paycheck. Thinking this way probably means you’re shirking responsibility and basically saying, “It’s not my fault.”
“You’re blaming your problems on everyone around you instead of holding yourself accountable for your own choices. It’s your life. Reframe the mantra by taking ownership,” says Dr. Walfish. For instance, your new motto could be: “My family has always been bad with money, but I refuse to let that happen to me.” Once your perspective changes, your behaviors should too.
“I remind clients that plenty of successful people came from families that had nothing,” says Blaylock. So it is possible to break the pattern. “Look at someone like Jay-Z,” says Blaylock. He came from the projects in Brooklyn and grew up poor, butearned $42 million between June of 2012 and June of 2013 and regularly makes the Forbes 100 list of the most powerful celebrities in the world.