Does your money mindset – your beliefs and attitude towards money – need a tune-up? Money mindset exercises to shift you from a scarcity to an abundant mindset.
Have you ever heard of money mindset exercises?
There are ab exercises for your stomach, and glute exercises to give you some sweet butt curves (if that’s your thing).
But what most people need to work on is their money mindset.
Heck, I even have to work on my money mindset – and I talk about money for a living!
So, let’s talk alllll things money mindset, like:
- Scarcity vs abundance mentality
- Specific money mindset exercises to change your money mindset
- 3 books that will change your mindset about money
- How “lack mentality” can physically cost you money
- What a Positive Money Mindset looks like
Let’s get crackin’ so that you can turn your money life around.
Hint: most of these exercises are free!
Money Mindset Definition
Your money mindset is a collection of your beliefs about money, your perceptions about money, and your attitudes about money.
You could have an abundant money mindset (this is the good kind), or a scarcity mindset (this is the kind I have!).
Two things you should know about money mindsets:
- You Have a Money Blueprint: Much of your money mindset is a product of your childhood and life experiences with money. Not only that, but friends, family, and the people you surround yourself with have a big impact on your money mindset.
- Money Mindsets Can Be Changed: No matter what your money mindset is right now, know that you can work on changing it to a healthy relationship with money.
What is a Scarcity Mindset?
Since financial scarcity is a very common money mindset to have – you might be surprised to hear this, but I suffer from it as well – I’d like to touch on exactly what it is.
A scarcity mindset is approaching money resources thinking that there is lack.
Scarcity Mindset Definition:
A “Scarcity Mindset” or a “Lack Mentality” is thinking that no matter what, money is a limited resource. It’s thinking that you won’t ever be able to “get ahead” or be in the same playing field as others who obviously “get” money.
It’s the exact opposite of a wealth mindset.
You don’t have to believe in any type of woo-woo money energy to know that when you make decisions from a place of financial stress and lack, they’re not the same kinds of decisions you would make when you feel abundant.
They’re the kind of decisions that could keep you in the loop of lack and the scarcity mentality instead of ones that will ensure you don’t get back to this place again.
Sometimes those money decisions are out of necessity, so no judgment here.
But I’d like to help you with feeling as abundant as possible during times of lack so that you can see the bigger picture, know you’ll get out of it, and make financial decisions that not only help in a pinch but further you + your goals ahead.
Examples of Decisions made from an Abundance vs. Scarcity Mindset
What do I mean about decisions from a place of lack versus from a place of abundance, and why does that make a difference to your future prospects?
Let me give you a few specific examples from everyday life at how this plays out:
- Setting Yourself Up to Miss the Sales Cycle Stock-up Price: In our household, my husband goes through certain items like crazy. Mustard and pickles come to mind. When these items hit the stock-up price, I should purchase 2-4 of them at once so that I will have enough to get me through until the price drops to its lowest again (usually around $1.00). But if I’m feeling lack and am tightening up the purse strings, then I will likely only purchase enough to get us by. Meaning in two weeks I’ll now have to purchase the product for about $0.50-$1.00 more (times 4, as that’s how many we would probably need on a typical 12-week sales cycle) than I otherwise would have paid.
- Choosing the Higher-Costing Plan for the Phone: You’re dying to get that new Smartphone but haven’t saved up a penny for it. So when you see a two-year contract plan that gets it down to a price you can afford, instead of realizing (and holding off a bit longer) that for the next two years, you’ll more than pay for the cost of the phone by the bloated plan costs, you go for it. Now you’re stuck in a plan that is bleeding your cash flow too much each month, making it more difficult for you to save up for that next new gadget upgrade two years from now.
- Taking Social Security Too Early: The longer you hold out before starting your social security payments (can you live on Social Security alone?), the higher your monthly check will be. So if you start panicking about where the money’s going to come from in the gap years between retiring and your first social security check, you could be looking at a significantly smaller lump of money over the long-term (especially since people are living longer than ever before).
So how can you turn your scarcity mentality around to one of abundance (or at least one headed in that direction)…especially when your bank account is hanging out on the lack side of the equation?
Glad you asked.
How Can I Change My Thinking about Money?
You can go about changing your money mindset much in the same way you would change anything else.
- Become Aware of Your Personal Money Mindset: As you go through your days and weeks, pay special attention to the thoughts and beliefs you have about money. Even jot them down in a money journal – this will be helpful for you to get an accurate picture of what you think when it comes to money.
- Figure Out How You’d LIKE Your Money Mindset to Be: How do you WANT to think about money? It’s important to know how you want to feel about your money and the thoughts you’d rather not have about money anymore.
- Do Money Mindset Exercises to Get There: This is the fun part. I’m going to share with you lots of resources for how to find the money mindset information you need so that you can really change your attitude about money.
I’ll take you through an example after we look at some cool money mindset exercises you can do to transform your own money mindset.
Money Mindset Exercises
I’m sooooo excited to share with you some fantastic money mindset exercises I’ve used in my own life to create an abundance mentality (and stop stressing or obsessing over money).
Pay attention, as these abundance mindset exercises will transform your relationship with money.
Conversely, earning little money is hardly a testament to whether or not you’re “good with money.”
I assure you that feeling like you’re bad with money is a problem straddling all paycheck sizes.
Here’s the thing. Unless you want to start next year feeling the exact same way, it’s time to tackle this sub-par opinion of your money skills.
Money Mindset Exercise #1: Use My Tear-Away Calendar Trick
One of my favorite money exercise tips to do throughout the year is to take one of those rip-away, one-a-day, calendars (the small ones that fit on your desk), and each morning rip off yesterday’s page, turn it over, and write three things that make me grateful.
Or five. Or ten.
Or perhaps just one if that’s all I can muster at the moment.
Then I collect the used pages in a small bin and every six months or so I read through them. What a treasure of gratitude this creates both each day as well as during those precious sit-downs where I can see just how blessed I am.
Money Mindset Exercise #2: Compare Yourself to Others (for real)
Usually, I’m hugely against this one…but it’s great to put your life into perspective.
Using tools like How Rich Am I, you can see how really “rich” you are compared to the rest of the world. It’s seriously eye-opening.
Psst: Why do I want to be rich? Better yet, why do you? It’s a good thing to work through.
Money Mindset Tip #3: Find Solutions with What You Have Now
You have to squash the “if only I had…” type of thinking from your vocabulary.
Trust me when I say that it handicaps you from moving forward.
Well, It puts us in the position of daydreaming of all of the changes we would make with better resources. The only thing is, these resources do not exist.
It doesn’t mean they may not one day appear – more money, more time, flexibility, help from someone – but in this moment, they are not here (this is one of my favorite life lessons about money). So instead of living in our current circumstances and figuring out how to move forward with what we have right now, we are comfortably paralyzed in a daydream world. And in daydream world, we don’t have to face our current financial situation or circumstances.
Stuck is the feeling that this eventually leads to, which feeds into the scarcity mindset mentality.
Money Mindset Exercise to Find Solutions with What You Have Now
Without facing our circumstances, we cannot move forward. It’s okay to squirm in discomfort a little bit, and it’s okay to feel a little hopeless – as long as you are motivated to get out of your current situation.
Take a piece of paper.
Make three columns titled, “Situation, If Only I Had…, and How to Move Forward Now”.
- First Column: Write down the situations you are currently facing under Column 1.
- Second Column: Write down each of the resources you feel that you need or want in order to overcome this problem.
- Third column: Brainstorm your way around your limits. Write down the resources that you have at your disposal at this moment, any ideas that come to mind for how to move forward (even if they seem silly), and any substitutions to the things in Column 2 that are readily available to you.
An example from my own life? You are reading it right now. During a bout of unemployment in 2008 (Situation) I created Frugal Confessions (How to Move Forward Now) with the hopes of one day earning income and being able to call myself a writer. I used to think,
“if only I had more time, a heap of money to be able to write for an extended period of uninterrupted time in order to crank out my first book, someone I knew in the publishing/agent world, a college degree in journalism, etc.”
Instead, I chose to move forward. What did I use that was at my disposal? Since I was laid off, I had ample amount of time. I already owned a laptop, and I went to the library and checked out a book on how to become a columnist.
And here we are!
Just like when the underdog is made to shine because they have found a way to get through a circumstance on the coattails of something previously seen as a handicap, we can turn our own limits into positives. Often it just takes some thought and a shift in perspective.
What sort of situations are you facing right now? What are the things you wish you had, and what is actually at your disposal?
Money Mindset Exercise #4: Track All of the Good Coming In
Most people would rather walk on hot coals than do bookkeeping. And I totally get that.
This money exercise is different.
Instead, track both the money AND value coming into your life to make you aware and grateful for all that you are given.
Doing this one thing can help change your money mindset, big time!
Money Mindset Exercise #5: Make Your Life Sparkle
Clean the house, clean your car, clean your purse, clean something.
It’s free, making your environment sparkle gives you a mood-boost, and it works.
Money Mindset Exercise #6: Ban the Words “I Can’t Afford It”
Reader Penny shared this tip with me once, and I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’ll let her tell it to you in her own words:
I decided to stop saying, “I can’t afford it,” especially in front of my kids. It puts the position of power on the money or the thing rather than on me and my choices. There are things I genuinely can’t afford, like a mansion or airplane, but most of the things that I say I can’t afford are really things I could but choose not to spend my money on. I could choose to buy a cheap toy for momentary pleasure, or I could save that money for financial security. Which is closer in line with my value system? Which is better for my family?
I don’t want my kids to grow up with a feeling of scarcity. Our lives are abundant – we have a warm home in a safe neighborhood, enough healthy food, clothes without stains or holes (even if they are second hand), toys to play with, good friends, and a loving family. Not everyone is so fortunate. The “I have” list far exceeds the “I want” list, and I want them to grow up knowing that. Saying, “I can’t afford” in front of them puts the don’t-haves up front, in a position they don’t deserve. Instead, I’m saying, “That’s not how we are choosing to spend our money.” I’m explaining why, too. The toy may be fun now, but how long will that fun last? Is it worth the cost? Do we have something at home that will do the same job, or can we make something similar? The kids are learning that we control where our money goes, and that spending is a choice. It’s also a great opportunity to explain our values in context, which I hope will have a deeper impact.
My husband and I have also made a point not to raise our voices when discussing money, something that has greatly reduced the tension level in our home, and to never argue about money in front of our children.
We’ve all but destroyed the words “I can’t afford it” (although it pops up every so often, like when a friend recently invited my husband on a golf trip that would cost more than a month’s rent.) We’ve successfully changed the tenor of the conversations about finances in our home and were able to sit down and talk about how to best use our tax return to benefit our family without anyone screaming, crying, or leaving the table in a huff. Trust me when I say that this is a vast improvement!
Money Mindset Exercise #7: Go Shopping Where a Little Goes a Long Way…Seriously
You need to surround yourself in excess every so often to prove to your mind the abundance all around you.
But if you’re low on funds? Then you have to do this strategically.
Set yourself to win with this exercise by putting yourself in a situation where a little money feels like it goes a long way.
Seeing how far your money can stretch can temporarily bring you out of a funk. Especially if you’re in an “I’m-broke-and-can’t-afford-things” holding pattern.
This could mean:
- Thrift shopping (one of my favorite splurges each year!) with $20 and coming out with some seriously cool new pieces, books, and whatever else tickles your spree-bone.
- Slapping $15 down at the Dollar Store JUST on things you want (I’ve got lots of Dollar Tree meal ideas and Dollar Tree food hacks, even Dollar Store date night ideas for you).
Money Mindset Exercise #8: Take this Free Money Mindset Mini Course
Ramit Sethi (we discuss him below) has a free mini-money mindset course.
Money Mindset Exercise #9: Remember that Money is a Tool – Put it in Its Place
Here’s something that’s true about money, whether you’ve got a lot of it, not enough of it, or are comfortably in between: money is a tool.
What it does and does not do for your life is up to how you choose to use it.
I know people who can squeeze two quarters out of a dime (ahem), and others who can’t seem to make it to the end of the month on their $100,000+ salaries.
The thing is, you aren’t born knowing both the beauty and devastation of compound interest – depending on which side of the equation you’re on – or of other money-isms. There is a learning curve, as there is with any tool.
How to Use Money to Live the Kind of Life You Want
Most of us are not blessed with unlimited bank accounts and fat wallets, and perhaps we’ve found ourselves or witnessed our parents in some financial muck that shaped the way we view money.
In my own personal experience, and from what I’ve seen in others, we give money way too much power over our lives, and many times, even fear it.
I spent much of my early twenties thinking that money was something to be feared. I felt lucky enough to have my necessities covered and saved like a mad woman because I didn’t know when the well would dry up. While it was a great blessing to accumulate savings, pay off debt, and understand the importance of covering necessities before luxuries, I’ve slowly evolved to understand that I gave money an awful lot of power over my life.
What’s actually true is that you and I hold all the power when it comes to our cash.
So how do we learn to effectively use money as a tool to live our lives to the fullest?
- Forget About the Money: Take a few minutes to forget about money altogether. Seriously.
- Declare Your Priorities: With that taken out of the equation, write down, say out loud, or otherwise declare what your priorities are (hopes, dreams, the things that make you happy). What gets you out of bed in the morning? What makes your heart skip a beat?
- Ensure You Can Cover the Necessities: Now let’s get back to the money. You have to cover the necessities, and yes, saving part of your income is a necessity.
- Support Your Priorities with the Rest: With the leftovers (and if there aren’t any right now, then root around this blog for some great ways to find more money in that paycheck of yours) you want to fund the things that make you and your family happy. End of story.
It’s a slow, continuing evolution for me to understand that if I want to use money effectively – meaning cover both my necessities and have it support the kind of life I want to live – then I’ve got to learn to see it and to use it for the tool that it is.
Just like my laptop does not pry open its clamshell exterior and write juicy stories for me, money does not choose how it is spent. It is me – and you – who have that kind of power in our lives as long as we learn how to use the tool we’ve been given.
Money Mindset Exercise #11: Change Your Backdrop
Are your surroundings feeling a bit stale?
Google your area + free and see what pops up.
Maybe there’s a festival or a trail you haven’t tried, or some place you can go to where you can pack snacks/a lunch and let part of your day unfold.
Pssst: here are 250 other money saving tips.
Money Mindset Exercise #12: Cash in Reward Points
If you’ve got reward points to cash in, then go ahead and treat yourself. Instant abundance lift! This also works with gift cards you might stashed in your junk drawer.
Money Mindset Tip #13: Start From Where You Are, with What You Have
The fact is, even though I can be a perfectionist sometimes, and even though I have grandiose ideas that flop to the point of barely succeeding off the first floor, I can still look back and realize from time to time that I got somewhere.
And the only way that I got anywhere at all (besides an uncanny amount of stubborn persistence I probably picked up while mucking manure on our family dairy farm) was because I started from where I was, with what I had.
Even though it wasn’t “good enough”.
Even though it wasn’t what I wanted.
Even though it felt like I should throw in the towel on the whole thing.
I really want you to do the same with your finances. Be it paying off debt, saving up for retirement, learning how to manage your money, saving for a trip, scrounging together a down payment for a home you’re sure you’ll never see – start from where you are, with what you have.
One year from now, you will be so happy that you set up that $50 monthly savings automation, or added it to your monthly home mortgage payment, or didn’t skim that cost of living increase off the top at work and instead upped your 401(k) contribution by 1%.
Trust me on this one.
Because by not taking these little steps, you’ll be at the same point you are now except a whole year will have passed by and you might just give yourself a Homer Simpson-sized “Doh” slap to the forehead.
Most importantly – something I fail to do almost as a default mode – is you have got to honor the journey you’ve already been on to get you to this point. Things don’t just happen by accident, or at least not very often. You may not be where you’d like to be in any area of your life (I know my video production is certainly not up to par with what I see in my head), but you are progressing, changing, moving, and creating forward momentum where before there was inertia.
**If I’m smart, I’ll realize I wrote that last paragraph as much for myself as for you, and will remember to return to it time and time again as I continue putting my work out into this world.
Money Mindset Exercise #14: Declutter the Negative
It’s time to declutter your life and give yourself a bit of a reset. Think about where your daily mental energy drains are.
- People Energy Drains: Are there people you’re avoiding because you haven’t taken the time to speak to them about something?
- Cluttered Online Experience: Are there financial accounts you can’t remember a password on and do not want to go through the process of getting a new password so you just make do without looking at them?
- Learning to Do: Are you failing to make a trade in your investment portfolio all because you don’t quite understand the process and don’t want to make that 15-minute phone call to learn how?
- Paperwork to Complete: How about all that nagging paperwork you’ve yet to fill out?
Here’s what I want you to do. Block off one hour (two if you’re ambitious) to actually get these pesky little details taken care of.
By blocking off an hour or two to address several of these little issues at once – which in and of themselves are not necessarily worthy of fixing, but have grown to become quite the nuisance – you can add mental energy and ease back into your days. Freeing up energy means you can tackle something else you’ve been meaning to get around to, or simply enjoy the mental clarity.
What are your nagging daily nuisances in your home, at work, in your finances, etc.? Have you had enough yet, and how long do you estimate it will take you to knock some of them out and hit the reset button?
Let’s go through an actual example.
Money Mindset Example
Let me give you a really clear money mindset example that is pretty common: “I’m not good with money.”
Has this thought ever scrolled through your mind?
Or perhaps the thought, “I’m bad with money.”
Maybe it pops up after reading one of those debt payoff success stories – very inspiring, yet when you look at your own situation you think it could probably never happen.
Or after getting another surprising-yet-not-surprising credit card statement where you fruitlessly thumb through your mind’s archives to figure out how the heck you managed to spend that much.
Or anytime you look at your 401(k)/retirement account statements or see one of those posh-looking Dow tickers when checking up on your favorite news site.
The thing is, you’re not alone. And your ‘condition’ is not permanent.
Feeling empowered about your money – like you can make it do the things that you want it to do to support your life – doesn’t just happen.
I didn’t start life out knowing how to roll store credits, get my credit cards to send me refunds, or determine if now might be an opportune time to purchase X stock. As a toddler, mastering feeding myself a fistful of Cheerios was a lot more worthy a goal (not to mention an easier one) than mastering my paycheck deductions.
And it certainly doesn’t just happen because you have lots of it – even some people who inherit their wealth can have the same limiting belief because they don’t understand where it came from, how it was earned, what to do with it, when it might run out, etc. Why do you think so many people in high positions go bankrupt?
1. Decide that You are Going to Do This
There are likely money tasks you’ve been ignoring due to other, more important things (like needing to clean the lint out of your dryer vent). But probably mostly due to feeling like you’re bad with money.
So you first must decide that you’re ready to move forward. I promise, making this decision is half the battle. And even more so than that, tell yourself this, “No matter what, I’m going to work through this until it’s finished and I have a handle on my finances.”
2. Let the Sticky Residues Rise to the Surface
If things are out of order and a bit of a mess – which happens to the best of us – then you likely don’t know all of the sticky money residues that need to be cleaned up and dealt with.
By rolling up your sleeves and starting somewhere, the sticky money tasks you’ve been avoiding will naturally rise to the surface and you’ll have a clear road map.
3. Ask the Questions You Need to
Ask any of my former classmates or coworkers about me, and they will probably remember this one key trait: she asks a lot of questions (you may or may not get a side of eye roll with their response).
By asking the mental obstacle-inducing questions that have popped up, you will have the information you need. When you’ve got that, there’s no stopping you. It will feel much easier to take the next step.
4. Stay in Motion
A body in motion tends to stay in motion (just look at Forrest Gump’s trek across the United States).
So no matter what – even if you think you’re bad with money – you’ve got to keep moving. Move, progress, ask questions, and don’t let things get too dusty in between getting those answers and implementing. Your future self thanks you greatly!
One way to stay in motion and get your questions answered? Is by reading up on this. Next up, we’ll look at 3 money mindset books I’ve personally read and can recommend.
3 Books that Will Change Your Mindset about Money
I absolutely love to learn, and I absolutely love to read. SO, you can bet I’ve read lots of fabulous books about changing your money mindset that I can’t wait to share with you!
Let me share with you the 3 books that will change your mindset about money.
Money Mindset Book #1: I Will Teach You to Be Rich
Have you ever heard of Ramit Sethi?
I came across a hilarious video he did years and years ago about extreme frugality, and I was pretty hooked.
I recommend all three.
Money Mindset Book #2: You Are a Bad A** at Making Money – Mastering the Mindset of Wealth
Did you know that a lack mindset can lead to both poverty OR to greed?
I had no idea, until I read this book.
I just assumed that a lack mentality woud keep you in poverty…not that you could have one and still have lots of money.
But think about it – it makes sense that people with lots of money who see lack in the world will be greedier than those who feel an abundance.
And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be one of those wealthy people who enjoys their extra time (and not one who’s constantly burning the midnight oil just to make more money…which I don’t need).
You’ll learn all about this and much more in this really entertaining book, including:
- A new definition of rich (hint: it’s more about being able to afford your authentic life, and less about comparing your net worth to someone else’s)
- Why humans are not made to be stagnant
- That there’s no ceiling on awesomeness
This book was truly eye-opening for this lack-minded personal finance blogger. I can’t recommend it enough!
Money Mindset Book #3: The Big Leap
Gay Hendricks wrote a very helpful book called The Big Leap, and it’s all about how to get past your fears and uplevel your life. This is very timely with how to work on your money mindset, because as you uplevel in the money area, you’ll probably uncover some fears that you didn’t even know were there.
How to have an abundance mindset with money? Changing your money mindset is lifelong work. You’ll always have something to work on – we all do – so don’t be upset if the process doesn’t go as quickly as you’d like.
Remember this one last tip that I heard from my acupuncturist in my early 20s (and that changed my life): in this moment, you are exactly where you were meant to be! We’ve all felt lack and a scarcity mentality in our lives. Don’t be afraid of it, and instead, use the exercises above to start the shift work.
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