This post is sponsored by Lexington Law.

Thinking about how much money we have (or don’t have) can be exhausting.  Especially if you’re trying to pay off debt, save for a big expense, or just trying to pay bills on time.  To be honest, financial planning (or math in general) was never been a strong suit of mine and I used to avoid it at all costs.  It was something that I thought I would never understand and avoiding it was much easier than facing what was really going on.

But as I got older, had kids and started a business, it was something I could no longer avoid.  I feel fortunate that my parents took the time to teach me the financial basics and now it was my turn to put those into action.  In order to do that, I had to start to think differently about money and adjust my mindset.

What is Mindset?

Stanford professor, Carol Dwek is famous for her work in the mindset psychology trait.  She talks in detail about the difference between growth and fixed mindset.

  • Growth Mindset: when we believe that we can learn from our mistakes and use those lessons to move forward. Just because we don’t know something now, doesn’t mean that’s the end, we just haven’t learned it yet.
  • Fixed Mindset: when we assume that we are born with a certain level of intelligence and that we cannot grow from experiences.

There have been many times in my life where I fell into the fixed mindset, especially when it came to my ability to create a financial plan.  But living in that space was not going to give me the opportunity to move further in my personal or professional life.  I had to make a mindset shift.  Here’s how these mindsets can play out:

Growth Mindset Fixed Mindset
I want to learn and try new things I’ll stick with what I know, it’s easier that way
I’ll try another strategy and learn from my mistakes It’s easier to give up
I don’t know that yet I’ll never know that
I know that understanding this will help me in the long run This is boring and a waste of time
I am curious how they knew that and am interested in learning more They were just born with the ability to do that

 

If you’ve been in a similar situation, then you know what it feels like to avoid something.  Let’s go over some strategies that can help to adjust your mindset and think differently about money.

Identify What’s Holding You Back

Sometimes we have a certain mindset because of a previous experience or interaction.  This one thing can be holding us back from financial freedom.  Maybe you made a poor investment, were denied for a credit card because of your low credit score or took on too many student loans and feel like there’s no way out.  Being able to identify that thing and trying to move past it can make all the difference.  Try saying the mantra, “I haven’t met my financial goals yet, but I will get there.”

Stop the Comparison Game

Just like social media being a highlight reel, certain things in life can feel the same way.  You might be seeing your friends buying fancy things, going on vacations, or paying off their student loans.  Instead of comparing yourself to them, ask them how they did it.  Maybe they’ve made small tweaks that are doable for you, can share a new skill, or point you in the direction of a great resource.  Instead of thinking that they were born with something you don’t have, try to muster up the courage to see how they got to where they are today.  When we compare ourselves to others without knowing the whole picture, it’s easy to feel isolated in the process to financial stability.

Understand What Financial Freedom Can Provide

What does financial freedom mean to you?  This answer can vary for each person and identifying your definition can help you start adjusting your mindset.  Does it mean that you get to spend more time with your family, take a vacation you’ve always been wanting, or less stress in your everyday life.  Take some time to think about how feeling more comfortable with thinking about money will benefit your life in the long run.

Get Comfortable with Risk

Risk can be scary at any level but especially when we are talking about money.  But putting our money in a “typical” bank savings account may not be the best option for our money to grow.  Sure, it might be safer but if we are looking to add to our retirement or save for a future purchase this might not be the best method.

According to a post on Lexington Law’s blog, 38% of Americans wouldn’t invest in the stock market at all due to their lack of confidence.  While confidence and a growth mindset does not happen overnight, try starting small with risk.  Speak with a financial advisor about your long-term goals and the best places to invest your money based on your personal situation.  In fact, the same post shares that one in three people use a financial advisor to help them with this decision.

Educate Yourself

When you’re living in a fixed mindset, it’s hard to feel empowered to make a change and learn something new.  That’s why it’s even more important to take the time to educate yourself and become more financially literate.

Resources like Lexington’s Law’s blog are a great place to start to understand what a good credit score is, how to get it, how to start saving, among many other things.  Even getting a gauge on your credit score by getting a free credit report can be a great start. You can also listen to podcasts or take an online course through Coursera or EdX.

Take Time for Yourself

When we’re overwhelmed or even tired, it’s easy to get into that growth mindset.  It’s much easier to keep doing what we’ve been doing then to make change or put effort towards something different.  By taking time for ourselves to sleep, practice good hygiene, and eat healthier, we will have the capacity to start new habits.

On Lexington Law’s blog, they break down a few ways to get started taking care of yourself:

  • Create an early rising sleep schedule
  • Learn to cook
  • Volunteer for an organization you’re passionate about
  • Make conservation a habit
  • Make lists and keep track of what you need to do

Get Started

The hardest part to adjusting our mindset, is to actually get started.  If you’ve been wanting to increase your credit score, remove inaccuracies from your credit report, or save money to start paying off debt, but feel overwhelmed- take one step.  This can be:

  • starting the morning with the mantra “I haven’t met my financial goals yet, but I will get there”
  • reading posts on Lexington Law’s blog
  • taking time for yourself getting support in your efforts to have a fair, accurate, and substantiated credit report from the people at  Lexington Law
  • Whatever that first step is, make sure you’re not going at it alone.  This can be a big adjustment and surrounding yourself with people who can help can make all the difference.Lexington Law helps you find out what’s going on with your credit and take steps to improve

 

Alissa Carpenter