Money is one of those subjects that has a lot of “collective wisdom”, but in reality, “common knowledge” can actually be holding people back from properly managing their money.
So let’s start unpicking those myths!
Money Myth #1 I’m Rubbish With Money
The first myth is one that I held onto for a long time, and this was “I’m rubbish with money”.
The problem with our brains is that our subconscious layer (our lizard brain – remember that?) believes every word we say. The more we tell ourselves or others that “we’re rubbish with money” (even if it is in jest), then that’s exactly what we will be. For years I believed that I couldn’t handle money. This is probably why I gave it away to my ex to sort out.
Every time I made a mistake, it was confirmation to me that I couldn’t manage my money, so I’d beat myself up even more and ingrain that belief even further into my subconscious.
Here’s the newsflash though – we ALL make mistakes. Not a single person on this planet can say that they have never made a mistake (unless you’re a newly born baby!), especially when it comes to money. And its ok to make mistakes because that’s how we learn!!
So rather than beating ourselves up, we should be grateful for our mistakes so that we can do it better in the future.
It has taken me a long time to forgive myself over mistakes from my past, and I suspect this has held me back on some level until I did.
The trouble is, until you can see your mistakes and patterns, you can’t do anything about them. Unless we talk about it with each other more, we won’t necessarily see where we’re going wrong.
How To Get Over It: see where you think you’ve gone wrong in the past. Write a list of all the times you’ve “messed up” with money, or where others have caused problems for you, like partners or family getting you into debt. Then, can you reframe the mistake or situation to something positive? What did you learn from it?
Money Myth #2 I Can’t Afford It
Money is unfortunately one of those things we can feel that we never have enough of. We tell ourselves that – “If only we could make more money or deny ourselves the things we want”, we’ll be ok to get through the month.
“I can’t afford it” is one of the most commonly-used phrases to justify why you can’t do something or have something. It is a phrase you now need to banish from your vocabulary!
The reason for this is because it destroys your imagination. By telling yourself (and your unconscious) that you can’t afford something, you are literally shutting down all possibilities of actually getting the thing you want. You may genuinely be spending so much every month that you run out of money before the month ends, but this shouldn’t stop you!
Instead, you need to use the phrase “How can I afford it”. This is a very different type of question for your brain to work on. This allows your subconscious to play and work out how to help you.
When you ask your brain for help in this way, suddenly there are options. The only caveat to this is, how can I afford it, without getting into more debt. This was a cycle I was in for a long time. The money always showed up, in the form of a new loan or credit limit offer. The trick is to find ways of getting what you want without making things more unstable for yourself.
How To Get Over It: Set yourself a goal to try this concept out on. This year, can you figure out a way to pay for your holiday in cash rather than on credit for example? Or, maybe you have a savings goal you want to reach, or a debt you want to get rid of.
Examples of what you could do include:
- Review your utility bills and see if you can save money on them
- Cancel sky (its amazing what they’ll give you if you threaten to leave)
- Rent out your spare room
- Sell old clothes/books/DVDs you have
- Rummage around your house in all the drawers and cupboards for coins, vouchers and other things you may have forgotten about
- Save up all your £5 notes or £2 coins
- Get a Saturday job
- Become a virtual assistant
And on and on and on….keep thinking of new ways to reach your ultimate goal.
Money Myth #3 Budgets are boring
Yes I know, budgets are b-o-r-i-n-g, but please don’t switch off just yet.
Budgeting is on of those things that just has to be done. It doesn’t matter really how you do it, as long as you have a way of recording how you spend your well-earned cash.
Awareness is the first step to change!
I personally use a spreadsheet (no apologies!!) because I like inputting my own data and seeing the figures change from week to week, month to month.
I follow the “money-pie” method of budgeting. Literally slicing up your monthly income into 7 distinct categories. FYI – you can adapt the percentages and categories however you like depending on how you live your life, but categories like fun, investing and emergency fund absolutely should feature for a well rounded budget.
- Fun – up to 10% that only you can spend on YOU
- Giving – up to 5-10% to save for xmas/birthdays (ideally less if you have debt)
- Education – up to 5% to save for courses and have money to pay for books etc that help you grow
- Essentials – up to 50-60% on bills/rent/mortgages etc. VERY hard to do at first, especially if you are living in an expensive area, but it is do-able.
- Debt and Emergency – up to 5% to pay down debt much quicker and up to 5% to create an emergency fund (approx. £1000) and then 6 months F*** Off Fund (6 months of income/basic living expenses).
- Events – up to 10% towards things you want like a car or a wedding for example
- Investing – 10% of your income MUST go towards building investments like stocks and shares. This is so you are not left struggling in retirement.
You may find initially that this is not do-able for you. When I did this I was spending over 100% of my income. No wonder I was in debt.
If this is also you, your first goal needs to be getting everything to below 100%. Then from there you can improve the specific percentages.
How To Get Over It: If this method doesn’t suit you, there are many other ways you can budget. Pick a method that works for you and stick to it!
Money Myth #4 Don’t save until debt is paid
When I started looking about my own finances to change them, I read a lot of books that suggested I needed to pay off all my debt first before saving or investing.
Conventional logic suggests this is true, but I think this is another BIG FAT MYTH! Why?
There is one small caveat – if you have A LOT of debt and you are struggling to heat your house, keep a roof over your head, or feed your family, please, please, please get professional debt help from a charity.
It’s true that if you have any debt that is associated with a huge amount of interest, paying it off is almost an emergency. I’m talking pay-day loans here. Get this stuff out of your life immediately and don’t ever use it again. This is poison to your wealth.
Credit cards with high interest would be the next debt I would pay off, but I wouldn’t compromise the start of my investing or saving in order to pay it off faster.
There are two reasons:
- Psychologically you will be happy when you see your savings steadily grow. Paying off debt is boring and slow, and you will need a boost when things are feeling tough. A growing savings/investment account is one way of giving you a feel-good boost of energy to keep paying off debt (because you’ll be able to see where the debt repayment money can be directed once you’ve paid it all off!)
- You need to take advantage of compounding as soon as possible. At the core of successful investing is the ability of your money to make money. As soon as you start investing, your money has THE BEST chance of growing. If you wait until your debt is paid off (which could be years if you have a lot to get rid of), then you’ll miss out on many years of compounding. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the next best time is NOW!
How To Get Over It: In the meantime, how much can you afford to put towards saving and investing? Be realistic and start small. Set up two separate accounts – one for saving and one for investing. They can be ordinary free accounts for now – don’t be convinced into setting up an account that comes with a monthly fee. It isn’t necessary. Set up a direct debit of money that will go into each account. As you learn more about what to do with your money, you can then set up a specific investment account and a high interest savings account. All you need to do now is get in the habit and make it AUTOMATIC.
Money Myth #5 It’s too early to plan for retirement
A lot of people in their teens, 20s and 30s are not even thinking about retirement. They want adventure and partying and then they want a house so that they can start a family. There is still this feeling that retirement will be ok – that their company or the government will provide. I know this because I was one of those 20-somethings not thinking about it!
This is a scary but very real myth.
The trouble is, when we DO start thinking about, we’ve lots years of momentum that we could have been applying to our retirement savings. In a podcast I listened to recently, we’re all meant to be saving 10-15%+ of our monthly income in order to have a comfortable retirement. I don’t know anyone doing this (unless you work for the NHS or a company that automatically takes this out for you).
The longer you have to invest, the less money you need to put into it.
The later you leave it, the more money you will need to put into it.
How To Get Over It: Start today. Find out how much all your pensions are worth. Find out how much you pay in every month. Get in the habit of setting aside £25 per month for investing in your future. Think of it as another bill to pay to make it easier. Learn how to invest in index trackers. Once you can comfortably save £25 per month, you can start investing. Then build it up from there.
Money Myth #6 I Just Need To Earn More Money or Win the Lottery
No no no no no no no.
This is a big myth that I think almost everyone thinks/has thought. It seriously isn’t the best strategy for wealth building.
In the book, “The Millionaire next door”, the typical millionaire was an “average-joe” in average employment. They were not doctors/lawyers or other professionals. Why?
Because of a little something called “spending creep”. The more money you earn, the more money you spend. Lottery winners are a great illustration of this.
You must have seen articles in the news about lottery winners blowing all their cash within a few years and ending up bankrupt or broke? The reason for this is because they were still spending money poorly.
The secret is to sort out your spending habits – learn to budget, save, invest. THEN you’re allowed to bring in more money, because then you know it will be looked after, not squandered.
How To Get Over It: Stop buying lottery tickets. Stop wishing for more money. Focus on your spending. Where are the holes? For me, its debt. I am not adding to my debt holes, and instead, I’m filling them in, one by one. Once these are all paid off, I’ll have plenty of extra money in my budget to throw at investing.
So there you have it – 6 myths that could be holding you back. Come over to the Facebook group and tell me if you’ve had any “ahas” over this. Hearing your stories makes my week!
Lots of Love,
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