The toughest part of creating healthy new habits to replace the old habits that are no longer serving us well is allowing ourselves to change. As Mari discusses in 7 Days to Money Mastery, making a significant difference in our lives involves changing our thinking.
Changing our thinking can be difficult, because we’ve often thought this way our whole lives. These thoughts are all we’ve ever known. When it comes to thinking about money, the thoughts that are the most detrimental are called limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs are thoughts that prevent you from living your best life. They keep you stuck at the same place instead of allowing you to grow and prosper. One of the most common limiting beliefs around money is that you have to work hard to make lots of money. Do you really? If your work is something that you love, is it hard?
There are many beliefs that can (and should) be questioned this way.
While changing your thinking about money is the first step to changing your financial habits, it’s also important to take a look at the habits that are keeping you from improving your financial situation.
Change Your Thinking
The first step to changing your thinking around money is recognizing when those thoughts are holding you back. Whenever you find yourself wishing you had more money or less debt, take a minute and ask yourself if there are any limiting beliefs sneaking into your thinking.
For example, you might feel like you need a new job so you can make more money. If you need to get a different job because you’re not happy, then by all means, do that. But if you think you need a new job because it’s the only way to earn more money, this is a limiting belief.
The limiting belief around staying in your old job sounds something like this: I need to get a better paying job. If you enjoy your work and you want more money, try changing your thinking to: I can make more money while keeping this job I love.
There are ways you can earn more money and stay at your job if that’s what you’d like to do. You can ask for a raise, sell some stuff you no longer need, or start a side hustle. Try flipping your thinking around the next time you are feeling down about money. Use your journal to help you work it out.
Replace Bad Habits
Replacing bad habits with good ones is a tried and true way to change your behavior. People who want to stop smoking substitute cigarettes for gum. People who want to lose weight look for healthier food to snack on.
To replace your bad money habits, you first need to identify them. Part of your bad habits could be your thought process as discussed above. For many people, spending money frivolously is a bad habit that’s caused them grief financially.
Sometimes these habits are small things that really add up. One of these things for me is buying books. As an author, I love supporting other authors, but when I realized my book buying habit was adding up to a couple hundred dollars a month, I knew I needed to replace that habit with something good.
My solution wasn’t to completely stop buying books, because I still want to support authors, but I started pausing to think about my purchase before automatically hitting that Amazon one-click button. Now I add the book to my wishlist, so I can purchase it when I have time to read it. Instead of hitting the one-click button I select the add to wishlist button. Alternatively, I will also see if my library has the book available in their catalog.
Double-Up on Good Habits
When discussing how to adopt new habits In Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, James Clear suggests pairing the new habit with an existing habit that is already working well for you. When you do this, the existing habit becomes a signal for you to complete the new habit. Clear calls this “habit stacking.”
For example, if you want to establish a new savings habit try linking the act of saving money to receiving your paycheck. This works whether you are paid with an actual check or through direct deposit.
If you are paid by cheque, the existing habit is depositing your check into your bank account. Open a separate savings account and every time you deposit your paycheck, establish a dollar value you will then transfer to your savings account.
If you are paid via direct deposit, I recommend setting up an automatic transfer to your savings account on the same day your paycheck is deposited to your account. If you are self-employed and you don’t receive regular paychecks, you might need to think of another habit to link your savings habit too.
Most business owners have some sort of routine for paying themselves from their business. Every time you pay yourself, take the extra step to transfer a designated amount into your savings account.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, affirmations are a great way to change your thinking. Affirmations replace negative self-talk with positive thoughts specifically designed to target whatever you’re working on. Here are some affirmations you can use to help you change your financial habits.
- I’m making healthy financial decisions.
- I have the power to improve my financial situation.
- I make small steps toward positive financial change every day.
The most meaningful affirmations are the ones you create yourself, so if these affirmations strike a chord with you, great. If you want to make them more specific to your situation, even better.
Changing your thinking and noticing your financial habits (good and bad) are huge steps toward making positive changes with your personal finances. Journaling about these steps will help make it clear what you need to do.
Start by journaling about how you feel about change. At the top of a journal page write:
How do I feel about financial change?
There’s no question that change is difficult, and it’s completely okay to feel that way. Your journal is there for you whether you are scared, excited, or dreading the work ahead of you. This is the time to get all your feelings onto the page—the good and the bad.
Which limiting beliefs sneak into my thinking when it comes to money?
Remember, limiting beliefs are the things we tell ourselves that hold us back from achieving what we really want. When it comes to money, we often have several limiting beliefs that are impacting our ability to change our financial situation. You may want to revisit this journal prompt often.
Once you have a list of limiting beliefs, journal about how you can turn them around. For example, the limiting belief that only people who deserve a lot of money will have a lot of money can be turned into, we all deserve all the money we desire.
Where do I need to replace bad money habits with good ones? What will these new habits be?
This journal prompt is about taking an honest look at your behavior and how it’s impacting your financial goals. Once you’ve listed your bad money habits, think about the actions you can take instead that will contribute to your goals rather than hinder them.
Maybe instead of spending your loose change, you save it until it reaches a certain value then you deposit it into your savings account.
What good habits do I have right now that I can link good money habits to?
When we link new habits to existing habits, we are more likely to stick to them. Journal about how you can make this work for your financial goals. The existing good habits that you have don't have to be money related, but if they are, your new habits will have an even stronger connection to your existing habits.
If you have a habit of checking your email first thing in the morning, maybe you’ll want to check your bank account balance at that time too.
How will I feel when I reach my financial goals?
I always like to end on a positive note when I’m journaling, and what could be more positive than imagining your ideal financial future? Write about what it feels like to reach your financial goals. Feeling what it’s like to reach your goals is a form of visualization that can help you reach your goals faster.
Any step toward a positive change deserves to be celebrated. You may feel like you aren’t making progress, but you are. Every little thing counts, so on your journey to change your financial habits, be sure to celebrate all your success along the way. Maybe you’d like to write about them in your journal?
If you need extra support as you work toward this wonderful change, check out 7 Days of Money Mastery to get started on the right foot.
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Author bio: Michelle Cornish is the author of Prosperity Planner: Manage Your Personal Finances and Get Out of Debt, an undated planner where she shares more about her personal financial journey and her TREE Method for keeping her personal finances in check.