Do You Have a Weak Money Mind? Why? And How Can You Fix It?

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You walk into the store and you see it. It’s that breathtaking pair of shoes that you’ve been eyeballing for months. They’re the right color, size, and guess what? They’re 25% off today! BOOM! There is absolutely no reason NOT to buy them….or so you think.

Sure, those shoes might complete your ensemble, and yes they are discounted below the regular retail price, but the absolute truth is that you’re already $2,500 in consumer debt and you really shouldn’t spend any money whatsoever until you dig your way out. You should really do without the shoes.

Unfortunately, many people’s money mind is not programmed this way. They see something that they’ve been wanting for a long time AND there is a sale on it – this basically spells an immediate buy without another thought. This is the story of a weak money mind. Many of us have it and it often keeps us from getting out of debt and becoming rich.

What Causes Our Weak Money Mind?

When you find an item that you really like (let’s stick with the shoe example) and are tempted to buy before you leave the store, there’s an actual battle going on inside your head. This is the battle between the sensible, logical, forward thinking adult in you, and the no good rotten kid that wants it all right now (or maybe even yesterday).

money mind kid vs adultAs you stand there gazing at those amazing shoes, the adult stands on your left shoulder and says,” Yeah…I don’t know about this one, Jimmy… you already have 3 pairs of shoes that look pretty similar to those, and we were really trying to put some money into our savings this month. I realize that they are 25% off, but do we really need these shoes? Probably not.” This is about the time that the kid stomps in (imagine him eating a lolly pop and dirty from head to toe) and kicks the ‘adult you’ in the shin, “Whoa! Look at those shoes! I’ve never seen anything quite like those! AND they’re 25% off? BUY THEM BUY THEM I WANT THEM BUY THEM BUY THEM!”

And, just like the kids you see throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, they almost always get their way. You inevitably give in, buy the shoes and can’t wait to show them off to your friends. All the while, your bank account continues to suffer because of your childish decisions.

So what causes us to do this day in and day out? What causes our weak money mind that continually gives in to our childish desires? First of all, I blame marketing.

1) Marketing

Now let’s be clear, not all marketing is bad. I’m marketing to you right now in fact, by “selling” to you my ideas on debt and spending. Just like in this example, sometimes marketing can be good for us. However, it seems that the majority of the time marketing is only hurting our bank accounts.

The retail sector desperately wants to sell you their products, so they begin to study your behavior when products are placed in a certain spot in the store, when there is a sale, when their product is marketed with a famous celebrity, when the sales staff advises the purchase of only that product, etc etc. By following your actions, your tweets, your Facebook shares, and your web searches, companies can find out exactly what it is that will break you, and that’s exactly what they’ll do to sell you their product. For them, this is simply a game to sell larger quantities of their product. But for you, the victim, it strikes me as a repeated malicious act, focused on draining your bank accounts into their pockets. Unless you begin to understand their game, they will beat you. every. time.

2) Your Upbringing

The second, and potentially larger, factor of your weak money mind occurred while you were growing up. Your parents, whether they realized it or not, had a significant impact on your money mind. When you’re a child, you learn by modeling. Your first words were put together by watching your parents and doing as they do. The same was true for walking, and so on and so forth. Is it any surprise then that many of us model our financial actions after our parents as well? If they were big spenders, you will likely be a big spender. If they blew a lot of their money on lavish trips and expensive vacations, then you will probably do the same (or maybe even outdo them). The same holds true for living within your means. If your parents intentionally saved money, were charitable, and retired well, then you will likely model their actions into adulthood.

20130306 - cash rollHow to Improve Your Weak Money Mind

Just like in AA, the first step to ridding yourself of your demons is to actually admit that you have a problem. If, at this moment, you are already getting defensive, then you almost certainly have problem. And, to be honest, many of us have problems with spending. Even I, the owner and author of this personal finance blog, have had problems with spending in my life. Almost every single one of us have a weak money mind and have the opportunity to improve it. So stop making excuses and take action on the steps below:

1) Use Only Cash – Yes, cash can be annoying to use, but it is extremely effective if we want to know exactly what we’re spending our money on. Many times we don’t understand the impact of our purchases when we use plastic, but with cash we feel the hurt almost immediately. Start using cash and you will understand what it is that I’m talking about.

2) Read a Book – In order to beat those marketers and win at your own financial life, you flat out need to learn more about personal finance. Seek to learn about money behaviors and what it takes to be happy with your money. There are so many great reads out there. If you don’t know where to start, have a look at these:

3) Set Long Term Goals – The absolute best way to stop giving into that weak minded kid that sits on your shoulder is to figure out what it is that you want in your future. When you figure out what you want in life, set some long term goals in order to achieve it. If you really want to retire early and move back home near your family, then that is going to take a lot of work. You are going to have to tell that rotten no-go kid in your head “No!” quite a few times. To succeed in this, be sure to plaster pictures of your home-town by the door of your house, in your purse or wallet, and on the mirror of your bathroom. Continually remind yourself of your long-term dreams in order to shut out the short term wants.

4) Use the Power of Technology – No matter how much of a weak money mind we have, technology can often come to our rescue. Set up spending alerts on your credit card and start putting automatic deposits into your savings account each pay period. These two simple actions can go a long way toward accomplishing your long term goals.

Turn Your Weak Money Mind Into a Rich Money Mind

This article has been fairly long winded, but that is because it is incredibly important. If you want to continue being a kid and living for today, then just ignore everything I just said. If, however, you want to change and develop a rich money mind, then this post could be the beginning of something truly great in you. Make a decision to develop your mind today. Listen, read, grow, and change. You’ll never regret that you did.

Are you ready to ditch your weak money mind today? 

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13 comments to Do You Have a Weak Money Mind? Why? And How Can You Fix It?

  • Apparently nobody wants to talk about their weak money mind? C’mon people! 😉

    I’ll get the ball rolling. When I was young, I absolutely loved to buy baseball cards. I thought they were an investment. Today, these cards are collectively worth maybe $20 (if I’m lucky) and I still have a hard time walking past a pack of cards at the store without seriously considering “one last purchase”!!! Weak Money Mind…

  • Karen M

    No one wants to admit they have a weakness. 🙂 I have gradually converted to a strong money mind. It feel so much better to have sound financial goals . . . a paid-off house and retirement.

    • Oh how true. How vain we all are to think we can hide our weaknesses… I’m glad to hear that you are converting to a rich money mind. Best of luck with your future goals!

  • I am using some financial apps to do my monthly saving and to monitor my progress. That way I able to make wise decision in regards to my financial condition. Without the technology I guess I wouldn’t be doing as good as I do now.
    Amos recently posted..New Year’s Money Resolutions

    • Finance apps definitely help! If I’m curious about my net worth I can just pull out my phone and find it with one touch of the finger. Pretty crazy, but you’re right, it really keeps me on track.

  • Emotions can be a powerful influence on purchasing decisions. I use a simple trick when I find myself wanting to purchase something that I did not intend to purchase, I give myself 2 days to think it over. I usually never go back to purchase that item as I have had time to make a rational decision without the emotional stuff getting in the way!
    Paul @ The Frugal Toad recently posted..Tax Deductions for Common Charitable Contributions

    • Yes they can. Even the most stingy people among us can still get emotional about some purchases. I typically use the same trick as you Paul – I step back for a few days and then ask myself if I still want it. This, of course, was after I paid off all my consumer debt and allowed myself to splurge once in a while.

      • I’ve read about a study regarding healthy eating choices that showed that the part of the brain that processes the “I want to eat that delicious looking cake” thought works faster than the part that thinks “that’s not the healthiest choice and I should skip it”, which is why many people have trouble with those decisions. I imagine that our financial decisions may work the same way, so I really like Paul’s suggestion about giving yourself more time to think it over. Let all the parts of your brain catch up and then decide if it’s something you really want and something you can afford.
        Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted..More Senior Discounts for the 50+ Crowd

        • That sounds like a pretty awesome study Gary, and I think you’re right about purchases being the same way! We initially want and “have to have it”, and then later realize that we really didn’t and it was a stupid purchase. But, then our pride gets in the way so we don’t even return that stupid buy! Oh humans….will we never learn…

  • When I was in debt, I got myself into more trouble by just going to the mall to window shop. I would always come out with something I really didn’t need. While I did have a weak money mind, the advertisers did a great job at helping me to buy. I fell for all of their tricks.

    Once I learned why I was overspending and learned some of the advertisers tricks, I was able to create a strong money mind. Of course, even now I still don’t just go to the mall to window shop. It’s just asking for trouble.
    Jon @ Penny Thots recently posted..Monthly Budget Update – January 2015

    • I do the same thing with Craigslist. I just hop on to browse and then I suddenly come across something that I think I need! Not true! I need to stay away from that site and instead need to keep reminding myself of my long term goals! Thanks for the honesty Jon!

  • […] If you get to the end of each month and typically spend everything you earn (or more), then you have a pretty big problem, right? In this situation, do you think it would be wise for you to think less or more? Obviously, you should start thinking more. […]

  • […] you have no formal education in Finance, start simple with books like “The Richest Man in Babylon” and “Rich Dad Poor […]

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