As the saying goes, money can’t buy us happiness.
Yet the absence of it can sure make us pretty unhappy, whilst worrying about money – not having enough, running out before the end of the month, getting into debt – can consume a lot of emotional energy that could be better invested in living a happier life.
Yet we rarely think about money as an emotional or thought problem, instead more often thinking it as a simple fact.
We don’t earn enough, our bills are too big, we don’t have enough left over to save.
But whilst those may well be facts at any given time, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have powerful thoughts, beliefs and behaviours sitting behind, and even causing, them.
And if we’re able to change those thoughts, beliefs and behaviours, then changing the facts becomes entirely possible.
Two sides of the coin
Struggles with money have one of just two causes. Either we spend too much or we don’t earn enough.
Now those may sound like the same thing described in two different ways but it’s important to distinguish between them.
Spending too much
When it comes to money problems our solutions often start with looking at our spending and working out how we can spend less.
It a sensible solution, because it’s action that’s at least partly within our control.
We can work to reduce our fixed costs – moving to a cheaper mortgage, switching energy and broadband supplier, taking up the season ticket loan offer at work.
All sensible steps – if the quality or quantity of the product we receive is the same, there really is no sense in paying more than you have to.
After that most people will look at their discretionary spending – take aways, clothes, Amazon stuff – and cut back on that.
And that’s where things can start to go astray.
Because most of us can cut back for a bit, particularly if we’ve got a goal to aim at, like saving for a wedding or paying off a credit card balance.
But cutting discretionary spending often doesn’t last if we haven’t addressed the thinking that sits behind our spending.
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The thoughts behind our spending
Changing our thinking about spending can help us change our spending behaviour long-term.
And to do that we need to get clear about what we’re really trying to achieve by spending money, beyond the simple act of acquiring something.
- I will be more attractive and accepted if I wear the latest fashions.
- I will have arrived if we ski every winter and go somewhere sunny for two weeks in the summer
- I will be as clever as I would like to be if I read more books.
Bringing these often unconscious thoughts to light can sometimes be enough in itself for us to realise how silly that thought is.
But it can also allow us to work on achieving our ambition – feeling worthy in some way – in a more positive, sustainable way than just spending money.
For example, realising that we’re enough already, just as we are.
Not earning enough
The second side of the coin is not earning enough, and this one can be tricky too.
For starters, what’s the definition of enough?
Enough to cover our outgoings, enough to be comfortable, enough to do extraordinary things and go to extraordinary places?
The definition of enough can only be personal.
But it should be based on the fullest ambition about what you want to achieve in life and how money can facilitate that.
Because here’s the thing.
Money can’t make you happy.
But it can make life easier, it can give you back a lot of time in which you can do things you want to do, like spend time with your family, travel, volunteer, and it can give you the means to do things that can dramatically change the experience of life.
So we should decide what we want to do in our life and then estimate how much income it would take to allow that to happen.
Literally calculate what we’d need to earn to live our life the way we wanted and write it down.
Because when we get clear, we can take action to move towards that figure every day.
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The limiting thoughts that are going to show up.
Now, if you start doing that exercise then you can be sure that a set of thoughts and beliefs about money are going to start rearing their heads, getting in the way. You’re probably already having a few of them right now.
- I could never earn enough to do everything that I would like to do in life.
- There’s a maximum to what I can earn in my line of work.
- It’s greedy to want that much money.
- I’m already over-promoted and so my earning potential is going to be limited in future.
- I shouldn’t be interested in money.
- People who focus on earning more money are self-centred and shallow.
- More money wouldn’t improve my life.
- Having an impact is more important than earning more.
- I can either do good or earn good money. I can't do both.
- It’s vulgar to think or talk about money.
- People who earn more than me have qualities I don’t.
- It’s more honourable to be poorly paid for what you do.
- Financial struggle is character-building.
Recognise any of those?
Believe any of them?
Chances are you do because they’re all-powerful beliefs held by many people to be unassailable facts.
Yet none of them are true.
None of them are a fact.
All of them are just beliefs.
And you can let go of all of them when you look them hard in the face for what they are.
Once you’re able to do that, you can then start taking action to get yourself into the position to earn that amount of money and transform the opportunity your life presents.
No obligation, no rules, no opinions other than your own about how much you should be earning.
Just a clear idea about what you would like your life to be about, an idea of what this would cost, and the belief that you can earn that.
Then go make it.
To sum up …
When money is a struggle it only ever has two causes: spending too much or not earning enough.
Deal with over-spending by:
- Reducing fixed costs where possible.
- Uncovering what you’re really trying to achieve by spending money.
Deal with under-earning by:
- Getting clear about how much you would need to earn to live the life you want to live.
- Ridding yourself of the beliefs about money that don’t serve you.
If you want to change your approach to money, you don’t need to spend any to start work with a Your Best Life coach – our first session is always free and no obligation.
So why not start today?