Psychology of Money
This page has been set up as a blog with new material being added each Monday. How we view money has an impact on how we handle it: Personally, professionally, entrepreneurially and money-wise. You will see tips and suggestions around the psychology of money. Feel free to bookmark this page so that you can return to it on a regular basis. For more information on the psychology of money, you can email Dr. Abramson requesting your own complimentary subscription to Money Quarters. And for now, scroll down to learn about:
- Retail Therapy (uploaded on 4th March 2019).
- More to Investing than Just Money (uploaded on 8th April 2019).
- Money Mindsets (uploaded on 6th May 2019).
- Attitudes to Money (uploaded on 11th March 2019).
- Knowing Your Money Attitudes (uploaded on 11th March 2019).
- See also: What is Money Really to You? (April issue of MQ uploaded on 29th April 2019).
- On Unhelpful Fears and Beliefs (uploaded on 20th May 2019).
- Overcoming Limiting Self-Beliefs Around $$$s (uploaded on 13th May 2019).
- Healing Your Relationship With Money (uploaded 3rd June 2019).
- Developing an Abundance Mindset, Part I (uploaded 10th June 2019).
- Developing an Abundance Mindset, Part II (uploaded 17th June 2019).
- Useful Money Mindsets for Entrepreneurs (uploaded on 27th May 2019).
- Money and Life Partners (uploaded on 1st April 2019).
- Money and Retirement (uploaded on 15th April 2019).
- Buy Now, Save Later? (uploaded on 25th March 2019).
- Money as an Idea (uploaded on 22nd April 2019).
- Healthy, Helpful Money Habits (Uploaded on 18th March 2019).
They say that when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Many of us have jokingly described shopping as retail therapy. Yet, the label may be more apt than we realise.
We often use shopping as a means of making ourselves feel good. Yet, how many garments do we have hanging in our wardrobes? Garments that we may have never worn? How many shoes? How many gadgets have we purchased? Maybe we still have gadgets stored in their original packaging. Perhaps we have had them tucked away in the garage, laundry or shed.
Many of us are aware of how we might use food to soothe ourselves if we are feeling lonely, bored, frustrated, anxious or depressed. We may also be using shopping as another means of soothing ourselves. And, if this is the case, then shopping may indeed be a form of retail therapy.
If you don't like the impact retail therapy is having on you, perhaps it is time to declutter your wardrobe, garage, laundry and shed. You can then explore alternate ways of self-soothing, ways that can enhance your health and better protect your wealth.
More to Investing than Just Money
There is more to investing than just growing your wealth. If it was as simple as that, we would all do our research, find a good investment at a suitable rate of growth, deposit our funds and watch them grow.
But, what else is there? And the answer is our very human psyche. Money has come to mean a lot of things to a lot of people. At the very core, money is simply a standardized unit of exchange. But, over the centuries that it has been in use, money has come to mean much more than that. What is more interesting is that we absorb attitudes to money from our parents as we grow up. We may have heard our parents say something like money does not grow on trees or money is the root of all evil. Perhaps we have heard money is just an idea or we can always make more money. Sometimes it is not that these statements are verbalised, but they are such ingrained beliefs that they are acted upon without question. And, as children growing up in our respective families, we absorb those same ingrained beliefs and act upon them ourselves, equally without question.
Who we are today reflects the choices we made yesterday. Who we will be tomorrow reflects the choices we make today. This is true whether we are talking about personal development, career growth, entrepreneurship or money-wisdom.
The choices we make reflect the mindsets we hold - our frame of reference based on a selection of attitudes we hold in a particular area. In terms of money mindsets, we can hold the view that there is an abundance or paucity of money. We can hold the view that we attract money or that it slips through our fingers. We can hold the view that money is inherently good and reflects our contributions. Or, we can hold the view that money is inherently evil and that because of it, people will act inethically with greed and self-interest.
Attitudes to Money
Our individual attitudes towards money can be formed early in life. Our attitudes can be so deeply ingrained that we may not even be aware we hold them. Until they are challenged in some way. Even then, we may be more aware of our emotions than we are of the attitudes that triggered those same emotions.
Some people regard money as a form of security. They may budget and look at ways of doing things frugally. This group of people may get anxious or worry over how they will pay their domestic running costs as well as whether they will have enough money to fund their wise years. Other people regard money as a means of garnering respect, prestige or power. They may even buy products to enhance their sense of prestige. It may come as no surprise that high income earners regard money as a good thing while those who earn a modest salary are more likely to regard money as the root of all evil.
Money is neither good nor bad. However, how we think about money has a powerful impact on how we treat it as well as how we interact with money. Our attitudes and mindsets regarding money lend themselves to our own unique form of money karma. Money can either fall into our laps, or slip through our fingers. As Henry Ford once said: If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right!
Knowing Your Money Attitudes
Individual money attitudes tend to be little discussed and little managed. Yet, those same attitudes can help shape who we are financially - whether we are financially struggling, financially secure or even financially wealthy. Our money goals, if we have set them, may reflect our individual attitudes towards money (and hence, our overall money mindset). Indeed, our money attitudes may influence the heights (or depths) to which we set our financial goals. If we hold a money mindset that money does not grow on trees for instance, we may set financial goals that reflect a position of financial struggle; goals that enable us to keep our heads above water. Just. By contrast, if we hold a mindset that money is an idea and merely reflects all the good that we contribute to the world, or hold an attitude of abundance around money, then we may set goals that reflect a position of financial abundance.
I therefore invite you to consider your own money attitudes. Here are some questions for self reflection to get you started:
- What are your money goals? Do they reflect a sense of struggle (such as wanting to better manage your credit card or more easily meet monthly repayments)? Do they reflect a sense of security (such as growing income by 10% so that you can afford an extravagant holiday) or financial abundance (where income from multiple sources are referred to in the millions)?
- What comes to mind when you think about money, wealth, finance, investing or currency?
- What comes to mind when you think about taxation or insurance?
- What did you see growing up in your family home? What stories did you hear from each of your parents? And from your extended family?
- Keep a journal of your day-to-day activities for a week. What financial activities frustrated you over the week? And, what brought you joy?
Enjoy your discoveries around money and what those discoveries can do for you! And, if you want to discuss your answers or learn more about your underlying psychology around money, feel free to book a consultation with Dr. Abramson.
On Unhelpful Fears and Beliefs
Once upon a time, I could not swim. And behind this inability lay a healthy fear of the water. Yet, it was something I wanted to be able to do for a very long time. Naturally, I made sure my children could swim. And, they can. But, I remained unable to swim. Eight months ago, I joined a gym that has an aqua program (water aerobics and swim classes). Needless to say, with that healthy fear of the water, I decided to do the water aerobics classes. You could stand up in the shallow end of the pool throughout the classes. So, I was fine. My gym also has a 'cool' heated pool. So, naturally, after the water aerobics classes, I would wander in and splash about a bit. No-one there could swim so I was in good company.
Three months ago, I renewed my vow to learn how to swim. I did not know how I was going to accomplish this, given that I still had a healthy fear of the water. Fast forward to today and I am now comfortable in the water. I have taught myself to float. And, I am teaching myself to swim. At the moment, I can swim-a-bit. My swimming skills are a work-in-progress.
Why have I shared my journey thus far? Swimming is a highly-learnable skill. Based on my own experience, you do not even need a teacher. You can learn from books, DVDs and watching what others do in the water. (Kinda like the way toddlers learn to walk). The only thing stopping me from learning was my healthy fear of the water. Something that was initially triggered in me by the way swimming was taught when I was a child. (Thank goodness, swimming instruction has come a very long way since).
There are many things in life which are equally learnable, yet there is a deeply ingrained fear or belief that is holding us back. Our own 'fear of the water' problem. Sometimes, we can live a healthy, happy and prosperous life outside the scope of that limiting belief or fear (as was the case with my inability to swim). Yet, what world will open up for us if we can address those fears or limiting beliefs? I therefore invite you to think about any limiting self-beliefs or fears you might have around money and whether or not those fears/beliefs might be holding you back. I also invite you to consider what you can do to overcome those fears and limiting beliefs so that you, too, can swim your way forward to a healthier, happier and more prosperous you.
Overcoming Limiting Self-Beliefs Around $$$s
How might you replace a limiting self-belief around money with something more helpful and constructive? This blog provides a four-step process to overcoming limiting self-beliefs around money.
The first step in overcoming a limiting self-belief around money is to identify and recognise the belief for what it is. Nothing more than a limit on your own potential around money matters. My earlier blogs on money mindset, attitudes to money, knowing your money attitudes and what money means to you will go a long way to help you here. You may also find a limiting self-belief becomes evident when you speak from frustration or disappointment over something that just happened.
The second step in overcoming a limiting self-belief over money matters is to consider what belief might be more helpful to hold instead of the currently limiting one. You get to consciously choose what's more useful, constructive and empowering for you. So feel free to reflect upon this issue until the right belief emerges for you.
The third step in overcoming a limiting self-belief is to find evidence in support of the new, more empowering belief. If, for instance, you held the view that money is the root of all evil, you could say: Money is neither good nor bad. It is what you choose to do with it that counts. You could then look for the examples that show how money has been used for the good of others.
The final step involves putting your new belief into action. At first, it may feel strange. It would be nice to really believe this belief, but somehow you may not yet be so sure. It becomes important to be curious over the results you will get from the vantage point of this new belief. As you operate from the vantage point of the new, empowering belief, you will find you acquire increasingly more evidence in support of your new belief. In the early stages, you are learning what it is like to try on the new belief and to live your life from the vantage point of this new-found belief. As you develop your skills and abilities through the lens of this new belief, your confidence and skills will continue to grow. Before you know it, it will feel as if you have always held this belief. And when that happens, you can truly enjoy the benefits of your newfound belief.
If you get stuck with any step in this process, feel free to contact us for an appointment. Otherwise, go forth and enjoy your more helpful and empowering beliefs as well as what they can do for you.
Healing Your Relationship With Money
As mentioned in the attitudes to money and on unhelpful fears and beliefs blogs, our attitudes and beliefs around money inform our overall money mindset; the type of relationship we have with money. If we hold positive and empowering attitudes and beliefs, then we will handle our money well. However, if we hold limiting attitudes and beliefs, we will find ourselves financially struggling. We can identify our current attitudes and beliefs towards money and we can consciously set more helpful, empowering attitudes and beliefs around money.
For many of us, establishing more helpful, empowering beliefs around money may be enough to live a richer and fuller life. Other people may find that a significant event or long-forgotten issue triggers the old unhelpful, disempowering attitudes and beliefs around money. And if old attitudes or beliefs are triggered, it may be a signal to fully heal your relationship with money.
You could heal your relationship with money by considering what that significant event or long-forgotten issue is telling you. You could consider how you feel about it as well as what might be more helpful to feel. You could also recognise that the significant event or long-forgotten issue is what it is. This would then free you up to consider how you could employ your more empowering attitudes and beliefs around money.
If you feel you need to go deeper in order to heal your relationship with money, feel free to contact us for an appointment. At the end of the day, you can fully enjoy the benefits of employing empowering attitudes and beliefs around money.
Developing an Abundance Mindset, Part I
A mindset of abundance may seem to be relevant just to business owners. But is it? When you take an attitude that there is abundance, rather than scarcity, you act differently: Personally, professionally, entrepreneurially and money-wise. This blog shares five tips to developing an abundance mindset. I will share a further four tips next week.
Tip 1. Sense of Purpose: When you operate from a sense of purpose, you forget yourself in the mix. You also forget things like scarcity and what if I can't scenarios. Instead, you focus on what it is you want to accomplish.
Tip 2. Think Big: While you are at it, make sure you think big when you identify your sense of purpose. Once you have done that, think bigger still, and bigger again. The world is truly your oyster and is limited only by the limits to your imagination.
Tip 3. Focus on Opportunities: When you take an opportunity-focus, you create something from nothing. You get to create your own abundance. You can take an opportunity-focus at home, at work (whether you work for yourself or someone else) and in your investments. Once again, the world is your oyster, only you get to decide which oyster you tap into.
Tip 4. Look for Win/Win Scenarios: As you determine your sense of purpose, be sure to couch it in a way that leads to win/win scenarios. Be generous with your heart, time and money. Look for ways of helping others on their respective journeys. What you give out will come back to you in delightfully intriguing ways.
Tip 5. Mix With the Right Mindset: Surround yourself with others who hold an abundance mindset. Spend as much time as you can with them, discussing business and life in general. It does not matter what you discuss with them, what matters is just how much you pick up by hearing how they think.
The next article provides an additional four tips on developing that abundance mindset.
Developing an Abundance Mindset, Part II
Tip 6. Be Empowered: Have a full body stretch where you reach for the ceiling. Stand, sit and walk tall throughout your day. See also the Bullet Proof Your Brain blog article entitled Quick Tips: Building Confidence.
Tip 7. Be Curious: Allow yourself to be curious, take a learning-focus in everything you do and just experiment to see what works. This takes a lot of pressure off yourself and circumvents problems of perfectionism, time management and any other self-set standards that may might get in your way.
Tip 8. Take a Can Do Attitude: Consider how you can make something happen rather than whether or not you can actually make it happen. In some instances, you may need to hire people to assist you, attend specific courses or make certain financial investments. You may find it helpful to use more definite languaging such as when rather than if when you are thinking or speaking to what you would like to have happen.
Tip 9. Be Proactive: Do not wait for the perfect timing before taking action. When you know what you want, just go for it. If you have your heart and mind set on something big, do a small piece of it everyday. If it is something you can work towards quickly, set aside some time in your diary so that you can attend to it.
Useful Money Mindsets for Entrepreneurs
From the earlier posts on money mindsets and attitudes, we know that our attitudes to money can influence the financial results we get. It may not be a surprise to know that we will accomplish more through our businesses, if we hold useful and empowering mindsets and attitudes around money, than if we hold limiting ones.
As an entrepreneur or business owner, it may be more useful to take an abundance view of the world (ideas, money, wealth, and customers). It may also be useful to view money as an idea itself - one that comes to the business owner in return for the value of business' offerings. Finally, it may be useful to monitor your own attitudes and mindset towards money in the business. Your attitudes and mindsets may come out in both the good times and the bad. If you find that there is something holding you back or holding you down financially, such as a belief that money just slips through your fingers, you may like to reflect on how you can better hold onto your income. You can then restate that belief into something more constructive for you.
At the end of the business day, you can develop constructive money mindsets and attitudes and watch your business thrive. I would love to hear what money mindsets and attitudes you have found to be useful. Feel free to email your observations.
Money and Life Partners
What happens when two people decide to live their lives together. And, one is a great spender while the other is a great saver? Perhaps they live in a single-income household where one is the official breadwinner while the other keeps the family home. More often than not, it is the one who works full-time that is more financially conscious than the one who stays at home.
This can set up uncomfortable dynamics within the life partnership. The one who works is cast into the role of being mean and tight-fisted while the one who stays at home is cast into the role of being irresponsible. It is natural to be more conscious about your hard-earned dollars if you are the one generating the income. It is also natural to be more focused on the products and services you buy when you are the one who stays at home.
This dynamic may also play out in dual-income households, irrespective of whether one member of the life partnership earns significantly more than the other. So what else might be going on? They say that opposites attract. While such differences might be cute when dating, it can become frustrating after years of living together. Underlying it all, may be a difference in financial goals, goals that have not been discussed and are therefore not shared. To the extent that you might sit down with your life partner and start discussing financial goals, you can begin working towards common financial goals. Then, you may discover that your life partner becomes more accommodating or responsible while you both strive towards your shared financial goals.
Money and Retirement
The dynamic discussed in previous section may also play out in the retirement years. You may think that you both have shared lifestyle and financial goals. And, yet, there may be something that you do, or your life partner does, to indicate otherwise. If you see signs that goals and aspirations you both thought were shared are somehow being blocked, it may be time to sit down with your life partner and talk it out. Behind the blockage may be some value, belief or difference of opinion about how your retirement years should be lived. By identifying those differing values, beliefs and opinions, you can then find a shared position you can both be comfortable with. From there you can both set common financial and lifestyle goals that are genuinely shared and that can take you through the wisest stages of your life partnership.
Retirees who live alone may need to give themselves permission to fully enjoy their lives, be it travel, physical activities, intellectual stimulation, hobbies and interests or contributions to the next generation. Living alone means not having to collaborate with anyone else on how you live your life. However, it can also mean balancing your own wishes with those of your children and grandchildren (and perhaps even great-grandchildren) It is therefore worth your while to take stock of what you enjoy doing and what you can do, given your financial position. At the end of the day, you want to go to bed with a smile on your face. Each and every day.
Buy Now, Save Later?
Would you like to have a banana or chocolate in two weeks time? How about now? Based on research by Benartzi and Thaler, it would seem that most people prefer to have the banana in two weeks time (with the benefits of health coming to mind) but the chocolate now (for the joy of self-indulgence).
What happens when we translate bananas versus chocolate to money matters: Buying versus saving? If asked to buy or save now, that same research suggests we choose to buy. Perhaps we may even speak to how much our costs are at the moment as a way of noting why we cannot afford to save anything now. In many ways, an inability to save may feel quite real in that we may be spending as much, if not more, than what we currently earn, leaving nothing aside to be saved.
It may come as no surprise to find that the same research shows that when asked about whether we prefer to buy or save in two weeks time, we prefer to save. (We know that saving is good for our financial health).
What is interesting is that when we pay by cash, Benartzi and Thaler tell us we feel the pain of paying for something much more acutely than if we pay by credit card. Similarly, the pain of paying is more keenly felt when we pay at the time of purchase compared to when we pre-pay (e.g., conferences, workshops, airfares, accommodation) or pay later (e.g., monthly credit card debt repayments). The pain of paying is also more acutely felt when we see how much we are consuming.
So, if you want to better control your spending: You can pay in cash at the time of your purchase and pay attention to how much you consume. If you want to enjoy your purchases more, you can pre- or post- pay for your purchases by credit card.
And, how might we start saving? Or saving more? Irrespective of whether you currently spend more, all or less than your current earnings, it can be useful to examine each of your typical expenses with a viewing to seeing what can be dropped. For remaining expenses, you might continue by examining whether there are more economical ways of obtaining that same product or service. This may leave you with some (or more) discretionary funds for your current level of income. And, if so, feel free to divide your discretionary funds between pleasure and savings. The actual ratio between pleasure and saving is yours to decide.
By keeping your expenses tight, you will find that you will have a progressively larger pool of discretionary funds as your earnings grow. If you keep to the same ratio of discretionary spending and saving, you will find that you can increase the dollar-amount of how much you regularly save over time. It also helps to know what you are saving for. And, the reason for saving may represent future spending capabilities in the form of investing (own home, investment property, shares, other income-generating assets), rainy day funds, travel and the like.
Money as an Idea
As mentioned in two earlier posts, money can be viewed in many ways (including as the root of all evil or as an idea). Attitudes to money is more nuanced than these two views with each perspective on money having an impact on current lifestyle and long-term wealth.
The view of money as an idea can open you up to new possibilities and new ways of growing financially. With just an idea, you can always obtain more money short-, medium- and long-term. But, what sort of ideas will generate the money?
Ideas that are valued by others. Ideas can be as simple as a lemonade stand or as complex as a 12-month program. Whatever your valued idea turns out to be, take the time to operationalise it (strategy), share it with the world (marketing) at a mutually agreeable rate (finance) and deliver it to the highest standards possible (resourcing).
So, if you find yourself complaining that you do not earn enough, or that there is never enough money left over from each payday after all the bills have been paid, why not find that valued idea that you can deliver and do what is necessary to make it happen. If you want to explore this topic deeper, you may like to visit my Bullet Proof Your Business blog.
Healthy, Helpful Money Habits
They say that the best time to plant a shade tree is 20 years ago. The next best time to plant that tree is today. In order to enjoy the fruits of your financial labour, you need to prepare the groundwork today. By introducing the right financial habits into your life, you will find it easier to reach your financial goals. Here are some healthy, helpful financial habits to think about:
- Reflect on your current financial position and financial goals. What you are doing that is helping you reach your financial goals? What might be hindering progress to your financial goals? What knowledge, skill or abilities can you develop to bypass blocks to your financial goals? The answers you come up with here can help inform a financial course that you can proactively plot for yourself.
- At least once a week, gather your loose change and deposit them into a savings account. While you are at it, you can consider what costs you can trim or accomplish more economically. You will then have even more to deposit into your savings account. As you are building up a healthy bank balance, you can be googling potential investments (such as shares or property) so that you are ready to invest once sufficient funds permit.
- Whenever you are driving, taking public transport or waiting in queues, you can take the opportunity to read, re-read or listen to educative books or audios on accounting, finance, financial management or investment.
So, what is your money karma? And what can you do to develop your money karma in a healthy, helpful way?
Our newsletter, Money Quarters, provides articles, quick tips, food for thought to help you reach your full potential: Money-wise. If you would like your own complimentary subscription to this newsletter, feel free to email your request to Dr. Rachel Abramson. You can also follow Dr. Abramson on Facebook or Twitter.
Disclaimer: The ideas expressed in this blog take a psychological perspective on money and finance. Similarly, the ideas expressed in the Psychology of Investing blog take a psychological perspective on share investing. The ideas expressed in both blogs should not be construed as financial advice, but instead, provide food for thought on how your own psychology may have an impact on your wealth (short-term, medium-term and long-term). You would be well-served to see a shrewd accountant if you would like financial advice pertaining to your own circumstances. You can book an appointment with us, if you would like advice managing your own psychology with money or investing.