What Are Money Stories?
Money stories are the stories and beliefs you’ve buried deep in your subconscious mind.
These stories were built when you were a child, often taught to you by the people around you as you were growing up.
They were taught to you through the words and language used, the way people around you talked about money or their actions and how they behaved around money.
It could be stories you picked up as you watched adults like your parents and how they dealt with each other concerning money.
They are stories that get programmed into your subconscious through your caregivers, relatives, society, and friends.
How Do Money Stories Affect Your Life?
Our subconscious mind controls up to 95% to 99% of our behaviors.
So while you’re learning about what it means to be financially responsible or free in the 1% to 5% of your conscious mind, when it comes to your actions, your subconscious mind takes over.
That’s why although you know that you’re supposed to spend less than you earn, not overextend yourself financially to keep up with the Jones, or save for your retirement, it’s just so hard to do!
Now that you know the reason behind this strange phenomena, you can stop blaming yourself or think you’re just no good with money.
Instead, the first step towards becoming financially free and experiencing financial wellness is to understand what’s driving 95% to 99% of your subconscious mind.
We do that by uncovering what our money stories and beliefs are.
How have they affected your life so far?
More importantly, how can you use your money stories to transform your financial life and be financially free?
Here are 4 steps you can take to do that.
1. Identify Your Current Money Story
What are your earliest money memories?
The most common ones are:
‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’.
‘You have to work hard to earn more money.’
‘We can’t afford that.’
‘The man is supposed to bring home the bacon while the woman does unpaid work at home.’
‘Your job is your primary or single source of income.’
‘To get a higher pay, you need a bigger job title.’
One of my most entrenched beliefs about money was that a man was my financial plan.
That led to me looking for financially successful men as potential mates.
It also meant I relied on the man to make financial decisions affecting me.
I believed that a man was better at making financial decisions and that I was just no good with money.
What are some of your money stories and beliefs?
If you can’t come up with these money stories and beliefs, a clue can be found from the current state of your life.
2. How Has Your Life Been Built Around These Money Stories?
To find out if your money stories and beliefs are serving you, look at where you are in life right now.
Are you happy with where you are?
Which in itself is a belief because happiness is a state of mind.
Any state of mind can easily be changed with one decision to be happy no matter what.
But that’s for another blog post.
Going back to what your money stories and beliefs are, look at where you are financially, and the state of your relationships with family, your kids, colleagues, boss, customers etc.
Are they where you want them to be?
What role does money play when it comes to your career, business or relationships?
In my example, I lived my life believing that I’d always have a man to fall back on financially.
It meant if I didn’t ‘make it’ financially it would be okay.
I could always depend on someone else to provide for me.
Underlying that was a belief that I just wasn’t capable enough to take care of myself financially.
Which obviously leads to fear, worry, anxiety when my financial plan falls apart.
Your financial plan can fall apart in a variety of ways when you make a man your financial plan.
They could lose their job, become too ill to work, pass away, divorce you, or turn out to be someone who expects you to provide for the family instead, or simply just earns less than you for any number of reasons.
3. How Can You Reframe Your Money Stories to Achieve Your Financial Goals?
Where do you aspire to be in terms of your finances, relationships, family, career, business etc.?
If your goal is to be able to pay your bills, or pay off your debts or maybe save up for retirement or your kids’ college education, how will you achieve that?
For many people, it may be to earn more money or to reduce your expenses and live within your means.
But maybe you find that’s so hard to do.
Why? Do you have any old money beliefs that make you think so?
My parents provided us with an upper middle income standard of living when we were growing up.
Unfortunately, when I started working, my salary was barely enough to maintain that lifestyle.
So on the one hand, I had been raised to enjoy a certain standard of living.
On the other hand, continuing that standard of living was getting more and more difficult to do on my own.
That left me with 2 choices:
- Lower my standard of living
- Figure out how to earn more
I didn’t want option 1, and my idea of option 2 was to depend on someone else to provide the money.
Needless to say, that was a bad idea.
So at 43, I started working on option 2 – to earn more with my own capability.
Before I could do that, I had to change my money story.
I had to reframe that old story about how it was wrong and bad of me to live ‘beyond my means’ because I couldn’t support the standard of living I desired.
I had to tell myself it was okay that I didn’t want to lower my standard of living for our family.
The other story I had to unlearn was that I was not a failure if I wasn’t married to someone who would provide that standard of living I wanted.
I had to reframe my stories to be:
- I’m capable of taking care of myself financially.
- I have everything in me to learn how to earn more.
- It’s not wrong to aspire to a life where I’m not struggling to pay my bills, to enjoy a good meal or take my family on a holiday every now and then.
- I’m not a failure if I’m not a stay-home mom and my husband is the sole provider. Equally, neither is he.
How can you reframe your money stories to achieve your financial goals?
4. How Does Your New Normal Look Like After You’ve Reframed Your Money Stories?
Some adjusting is needed after you reframe your money story.
Like a new pair of shoes, reframing a belief that’s been with you for most of your life requires you to ‘break it in’.
At first, it may feel different and unfamiliar. You’ll probably still catch yourself reverting back to your old money stories every now and then.
But keep reminding yourself how beliefs are just stories you tell yourself repeatedly that you come to think of as true, even when they’re not.
You can even carry out some thought experiments to prove this to yourself.
When I first started out with my new money beliefs, I’d challenge my old beliefs.
For example, one of my old beliefs was that you can only earn money if you had a job.
When I started writing on Medium and earning money, that was proof that I could make money beyond a job, doing something I enjoyed, like writing.
Another old belief was that I had to work hard and long hours to make lots of money.
Then I started taking on assignments as a part-time trainer earning an hourly rate higher than my full-time job doing something I love and was good at.
That proved that I didn’t have to do something I didn’t like or work long hours to make good money.
These are all signs of what’s possible for my life.
You can find these in your life too.
You’ll just have to focus on what you’re looking for and pay attention when they show up.
Often, these ‘opportunities’ show up subtly.
What could your new normal look like when you put on your new money stories and beliefs?
Your Money Stories and Beliefs Affect All Areas of Your Life
What started out as my attempt to make more money to pay off debt and create a life I desired led me to uncover my money stories and beliefs.
I never expected something so intangible like your ‘subconscious mind’ and ‘beliefs’ could play such a big role in the tangible results.
But they do.
I just wanted to be more financially stable and get over my anxieties, fears and worry about money.
After changing my money stories and beliefs, the effects spilled over to my marriage, my relationship with our kids, my boss and colleagues.
It also changed my entire perspective on making money, what I’m capable of, and my entire outlook on life.
Instead of living from scarcity and fear, I’ve come to live with abundance and faith in myself instead of placing my faith in someone or something outside of me.
I know that no matter what happens, I’ll be okay.
That, to me, has been the cornerstone of experiencing financial wellness and overcoming financial anxiety.
So get your pen and notepad out.
Download the accompanying worksheet for this exercise and go through steps 1 to 4 above.
Then re-write your money story to achieve all your financial (and even non-financial) goals so you can be financially free and experience financial wellness.
If you enjoyed this article, you may want to also check out ‘If You Want Financial Freedom, Stop Your Money Leaks’.
I’m creating a course to help women and moms get good with money, overcome their financial anxieties so that they can experience financial wellness. I’m looking for a few women for the beta launch of the course. If you’re interested to find out more, please click here.