money conversation

You've got to change your money conversation to change your money life.

Your words are your life. Whichever words you choose to describe yourself, your situation, and your reality is…your reality.

If you ever want to understand someone else's world, listen to the words they use. If you ever want to change your world, listen to the words you use.

That Money Lie I Kept Telling Myself

I can't tell you the number of times I've declared, “we can't afford that”. And you know what? It was a lie every time I said it. It perpetuated this sort of where I felt incapable of living the kind of life I wanted to because of some outside circumstance.

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The fix was not to make gobs of extra money each month. It was actually much simpler than that: change my words. Instead of “we can't afford that”, I started saying, “we choose not to prioritize our spending to buy that”. Bam.

Suddenly I felt much more in control because it was a choice I was making.

Maybe you think I'm just playing cutesy word games to make myself feel better, or maybe you actually can't afford X.

So here's where words come into play again.

Money Conversation Game-Changer: Rework Your Words into a Problem

Think about how great it would be to work out problems in the background of your life!

Now, you can.

A woman in my mastermind group, Maria from The Money Principle, told us once to phrase and define issues we are having into an actual problem, because brains love to work out solutions to a problem.

Honest to goodness, this actually works.

When you introduce your how to manage your money issue in the form of a problem to your brain, the answers often pop up at the weirdest times – in dreams, after slathering on shampoo in the shower, during your commute – because your brain keeps working on a problem you've identified whether you know it or not.

Your words are your life. Words you choose to describe yourself/situation and your reality is...your reality. Click To Tweet

So instead of replaying the same old scripts that don't make you happy, by turning them into an actual problem, you can find the answer and move ahead in your life.

Examples of Money Conversation Opps to Create an Exploration of Solutions

  • I finally have myself to the point where I'm making good money but still am living paycheck to paycheck becomes: What would it take to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck?
  • I'm still broke and stressed becomes: What does an un-broke life look like to me? What's the first step I need to take to get there?
  • I'll never get out of debt becomes: How can I make it so that I have a clear plan to pay off this debt? How do I figure out which debt to payoff first?
  • Who can afford to retire becomes: How does someone at my income level and in my situation start to save for retirement?
  • I can barely afford my monthly bills becomes: What are the changes I need to make in order to leave myself a buffer each month?
  • There are always contingencies that happen that we don't have the cash for becomes: How are we going to build an emergency fund?
  • Our income is low and bills are high. We make almost exactly what we bring in becomes: How much more do we want to earn? How are we going to earn $X more?
  • I'm terrible at numbers becomes: What sorts of things are people who are “good” at numbers able to do? What are the types of things I need to learn in order to consider myself “good” at numbers?
  • I've been in debt before and gotten out and just gotten back into it again. What's the point becomes: Why did I get back into debt again? How can I avoid that in the future?

It's Your Turn to Change your Money Conversation

Phrase and define issues you're having into an actual problem, 'cause brains love to work out solutions to a problem. Click To Tweet

I'll bet your brain is starting to work even just reading these problems, whether you realize it or not!

So, how about we use all that brainpower of yours to re-word some of your own stresses in your life?

Maybe the answer won't be obvious, maybe it won't be something you feel like you are capable of doing. But by rephrasing your situation into a problem and allowing your brain to work on it, you might surprise yourself with options you didn't know you had.

I'd love to hear some of your current issues in the comments below and how you can change them into a problem for your brain to solve. Bonus points: come back later this week to share what solutions your brain has worked up!

11 replies
  1. maria@moneyprinciple
    maria@moneyprinciple says:

    Amanda, this is is such a great illustration to what we were discussing during the mastermind session! Love how you’ve done it (and, yes, this is how it works). Once we train ourselves to see problems (rather than predicaments) we and our big brains can find solutions to them.

  2. Carlos @ TheFrugalWeds
    Carlos @ TheFrugalWeds says:

    I completely agree, words are so powerful. My wife and I have made it a point to recognize the choice when purchasing or not purchasing something. We can’t afford X became, we would rather save that money for Y.

  3. Jon Maroni
    Jon Maroni says:

    Re-framing is important for any issue we face, money being primary among them. How we speak about ourselves as it pertains to our money reveals what we really think about our situation. I’ve worked with many people who are in the poverty mind set and getting them to rethink how they think about themselves is the first step to breaking that cycle.

    • Amanda
      Amanda says:

      I’m glad you use this in your teaching. I feel like it took me awhile to figure it out, but I’m so happy I did.

  4. Mousey Tongue
    Mousey Tongue says:

    At the risk of sounding/being sexist, I’m reminded of arguments I (as a male) have had with female significant others over the years, and hearing almost identical details from men in casual discussions about similar arguments with the women in their lives. Herein, the male is sometimes criticized for “needing to turn everything into a problem to solve” (see also “I don’t need you to try to solve my problem, I just want you to listen”). When looking over your list of “opps to create solutions”, I kept finding myself inherently encapsulating the central issue much closer to the “problem” side of your “becoming” formula than I do the “issue” side. Further, I find it hard to only consider the “issue” side of it without immediately turning it into a problem to solve.

    Not that I think men are any less prone to “having a poverty mindset” (and certainly an argument could be made to suggest quite the opposite), or that this realization is all that helpful to this conversation, but I just couldn’t help shaking the feeling that this is touching on an inherent gender prejudice about how to view the world.

    Perhaps at best I could suggest that maybe this methodology is not nearly as helpful to the male population of your readership as it is to your female readership, since it’s already our natural method of interpreting the world. In that spirit, perhaps there is a stereotypically feminine attribute that would speed us men towards frugality and wealth that we might be somewhat crippled by our gender prejudices to see so readily on our own?

    • Amanda
      Amanda says:

      Interesting thought when you say men seem to automatically create problems to solve out of everything…especially since I am female and I wrote this article!

      • Mousey Tongue
        Mousey Tongue says:

        Yes, that’s kind of the point.

        The context and tone of your article is that you have discovered something about (y)our natural tendency [“thinking about issues”] and how an active change [“reconsidering them as problems”] has helped you personally, and thus you would recommend said change to the great majority of your readers who you have to assume maybe have not yet grappled with such a paradigm shift.

        My (admittedly wildly generalizing) suggestion is that perhaps the majority of men reading this may not be grappling with such a paradigm shift because it is already more inherent to their nature as a result of their gender roles/identity. Hence my interest in the opposite side of the coin: a stereotypically feminine trait that might seem obvious to you but might involve a shift from the “masculine paradigm”.

        • Amanda
          Amanda says:

          I’ve given it some thought. Also at the risk of sounding/being sexist, I would have to say multi-tasking your thinking. Women seem to think about several things all at the same time, while men seem to focus on less things at once. This is completely generalizing, but since you asked…

          By the way…interesting name:).

          • Mousey Tongue
            Mousey Tongue says:

            Very interesting. I’ll admit that “multitasking” is not my normal mode of thinking, and I’ve learned that whenever I’m forced to be dealing with multiple issues simultaneously it’s most productive for me to focus in on individual issues and break down each of the larger concepts to specific smaller objectives/tasks that can actually be accomplished. At that point I can start ticking them off one by one in the name of productivity and time management, but I’ve sometimes wondered if that’s accomplished at a cost given that I’ve (at least in the moment) lost the “big picture view”. And I’d be willing to bet you’re right that quite a lot of men probably work/think similarly. Perhaps someday you could connect the dots of advising specifically how I(/we) could apply this paradigm shift towards frugality and financial freedom.

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