How we humans view money is complex.
We’ve existed far longer than the concept of cash. It’s so new that only a few thousand years ago barter was a more popular form of acquiring what we needed and wanted.
So what is money?
At its core, money is power. Power to buy the things we need or want, power to acquire experiences, power over our time, and the incredible power to give us financial peace of mind.
If you were looking at modern currency for the first time, you’d likely say it appeared to be worthless pieces of paper and little slugs of metal.
Economists will rightly say that money is an efficient and universal means of exchange.
In today’s economy, where nearly all currency and coins are made from materials that are worth far less than face value, money only has value because the issuing entity is willing to back it with good faith as a means of exchange.
Therefore, money doesn’t have intrinsic value, it only has the value we assign to it.
Credit cards and credit overall make the concept of money even more distant.
After all, there’s no physical device exchanged in a purchase, only an electronic spritz of a credit card number, and the idea of an obligation to pay the card company back in the future.
A pack of gum and a room full of high-end furniture require the exact same swipe or tap of the card.
The removal of the give-to-the-get that is present with a cash exchange is part of the problem with credit. One can buy almost whatever catches their eye, with no seeming sacrifice of exchange.
It’s no wonder, then, that the reality of money is sometimes hard to grasp, leading to difficulty in successfully managing our personal finances.
How we view money, and its role in our lives, it best summed by our ‘money beliefs’.
Most psychologists think our money beliefs are formed in early childhood, and that how we come to these beliefs depends on a variety of factors.
From my experience as A First Generation Millionaire, I’m convinced understanding your money beliefs is an essential part of successfully building wealth.
Entire books have been written about the psychology of money, and they are certainly worth a read if it’s a topic that interests you.
One of the best I’ve read is Your Money and Your Brain, by Jason Zweig.
Many studies have been conducted on how we come to see the role of money during our childhood. The link to childhood is so strong that some who struggle with their finances as adults blame their parents for negative money experiences.
But at a basic level, in a way that will help you develop Your Wealth Success Plan that works best for you, I think understanding one’s money beliefs is quite simple.
It comes down to how we see what money can do for us.
Our money beliefs fall somewhere on a straight line, with “Money as Security” on one end, and “Money as a Means to Buy Things” at the other.
Most see money as a combination of both, and therefore fall somewhere between Security and Buy Things, often favoring one side over the other. A few fall right in the middle.
Understanding where you are is essential for wealth planning.
If you don’t acknowledge your money beliefs, you may feel constantly out of synch with your wealth plan. Or worse, you may fail altogether.
If you see money closer to the Security side, you have an advantage in building wealth because you will feel great reward just by watching your money grow as you get richer.
As your wealth increases, you’ll feel an expanding sense of financial security, which will in turn motivate you to stick to your long-range plan.
Your wealth journey’s success can be strongly supported by this positive cycle of reinforcement.
If you’re closer to the Buy Things end, you can still build meaningful wealth, but you need to take two critical steps when you build Your Wealth Success Plan.
First, you have to acknowledge the impact your splurges have on your wealth accumulation, and make necessary adjustments in the timing of your Financial Independence Day.
It’s okay that you enjoy the things money can buy, but understanding how that money belief can affect your wealth accumulation timeline will help you be realistic instead of disenfranchised.
Second, if you embark on an aggressive savings plan, you must build rewards in along the way.
If you don’t, you’ll feel too deprived and therefore will be at higher risk of abandoning your plan.
Too many don’t acknowledge their money beliefs when building their financial plan. No one view is right or wrong, but not considering it — and then making appropriate adjustments — can derail your success.
If you are building wealth with a significant other, it’s vitally important that you understand each other’s money beliefs before building a wealth accumulation plan, and then design your plan to accommodate both views.
If you’re both are closer to the Security end, you’ll likely build wealth faster because your sacrifices will be viewed as directly contributing to more Security.
If one or both of you are at the Buy Things end, then it’s important your financial plan accommodate that by incorporating rewards as your reach important milestones.
The key is to make the reward large enough to feel satisfied, without undermining your progress. One approach can be to set aside a small percentage of the previous year’s wealth growth for a splurge.
This way you’re enjoying some of the gains today, while leaving the majority intact to produce wealth to fuel your brighter financial future.
Skipping this step can result in your finances being a source of relationship conflict, which can undermine the peace of mind that’s one of wealth’s greatest gifts.
Don’t let your money beliefs derail your efforts to create the bright financial future you deserve. Acknowledge where you are on the money belief continuum, and adjust accordingly.
Learn more about building lasting wealth at Millionaire Foundry.
Wealth is Freedom!
A First Generation Millionaire