Money is a big part of life. After all, you need money for pretty much everything. But are there beliefs that can limit how much money you’ll have? According to researchers, the answer is definitely, ‘Yes.’
Beliefs that can limit your financial success
Did you ever hear people talk about money in your house when you were growing up? You might have heard things like, ‘We don’t have the money for that,’ or sayings such as, ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees.’ We often learn about money from our surroundings, which in turn create deeply-held beliefs — regardless of whether they are actually true or false.
Several years back, a group of researchers studied the connection between beliefs about money and other attributes, such as age, gender, education, net worth and income. What they found was that several erroneous beliefs about money were correlated to lower levels of education, income and net worth.
Here are a few of those beliefs:
- Money Avoidance: A belief in statements like, ‘I do not deserve a lot of money,’ or ‘Rich people are greedy.’ These people viewed money as something that stirred up emotions such as fear, anxiety or disgust.
- Money Worship: A belief in statements such as, ‘More money will make you happier,’ or ‘Money is power.’ These people were slightly more likely to carry credit card debt, and were more likely to believe money would solve their problems.
- Money Status: A belief in statements like, ‘Poor people are lazy,’ or ‘Your self-worth is what equals your net-worth.’ People with these beliefs were locked into the competitive script of money and believed their worth was tied to how much money they had. These people were more likely to be from a lower socioeconomic background.
But there was a fourth set of beliefs about money that did not have a completely negative impact. This set of beliefs was called ‘Money Vigilance.’ People with this attitude about money believed statements like these to be true:
- ‘Money should be saved, not spent.’
- ‘It is important to save for a rainy day.’
- ‘If you cannot pay cash for something, you should not buy it.’
There were many other statements connected to this belief, but generally these people had a watchfulness and concern about money. Therefore, they were less likely to carry credit card debt or engage in other financially risky behaviors. But, due to the cautious nature of these individuals, they were not likely to make a lot of money.
Study authors wrote, ‘The only affliction that did not have an overwhelmingly negative impact on people’s financial future was money vigilance. People with this disorder do not like to share information about their income or wealth, but they also do not spend foolishly. Still, excessive wariness about spending can keep these people from enjoying the benefits of what money can buy. On the other hand, while they did not necessarily have higher incomes, they paid off their credit card bills each month.’
So now that we know what kinds of behaviors that can limit our financial potential, what kinds of beliefs can help us increase our income?
Positive beliefs about money
Thomas C. Corley spent five years researching rich people’s habits (those who made $160,000 in annual gross income and had $3.2 million in net liquid assets), and discovered some fascinating insights.
In his five-year Rich Habits study of 233 rich people and 128 poor people, Corley discovered that at some point or another, people who become wealthy adopt certain kinds of beliefs that make them more likely to reach success:
- ‘There is an abundance of money and wealth to go around.’
- ‘Anyone has the ability to become wealthy. I can become wealthy.’
- ‘I can solve any problem.’
- ‘I can overcome any obstacle.’
- ‘I create my own luck.’
- ‘Opportunities are everywhere.’
He found that these beliefs, among others, helped people to succeed in life and become wealthier.
Viewing money as a vehicle versus a destination
When it comes down to it, all four of the people who had negative beliefs about money believed in money too much. They focused on money so much that it became the goal — or the focal point of their beliefs.
People who are very successful with money see money as a means to an end. They realize that money is not the ‘end-all, be-all’ of everything. This perspective enables them to adopt attitudes such as, ‘How can I accomplish this?’ versus, ‘I don’t have enough money to accomplish this.’
In life, it is helpful to remember that pursuing money as a goal only leads to disappointment. But, having goals, pursuits and aspirations are actually the driving force that help us to dream bigger. Though money is a big part of the equation, money is just a tool to help us get there.