I’ve said this numerous times to those closest to me, and I’ve even made mention of it on social media: 2020 is the year I finally get my finances all the way together. For years, I’ve struggled with money, no matter how much I was making. I either didn’t feel I had enough of it, or, when I was finally getting paid well, didn’t know how to manage it.
It wasn’t until I left my highest paying job to pursue entrepreneurship that I finally decided to take a deeper dive into my financial habits. Mainly because of the fact that I was dead broke (ha!), but also, I was in the process of pivoting my life’s path.
I created a budget, became more vocal about money with friends and loved ones, I even sucked it up and saw a financial planner, but still, the struggle to make more and make money actually work for me persisted. After spending the last few months of 2019 wallowing in my financial despair, I knew something had to give. My mindset around money had to shift in order for me to actually see change.
Last year, I read an excerpt from Jean Chatzky’s book, Women With Money, and in it, she asks readers what their money story is. A money story is essentially the narrative that you received growing up surrounding personal finances. The mood, words, and actions associated with money in your childhood household that psychologically shaped how you relate to it in your current adult life.
In it, Jean provided questions to help readers get to the root of their money stories. Questions I began to ask myself at the top of this year.
- What was the feeling about money like in the home where you grew up?
- What was the feeling like about spending money?
- What was the feeling like about saving money?
- What was the feeling like about giving money away?
- What’s your earliest money memory?
- What messages did your mother pass down to you about money? (Note: messages are different than lessons like how to balance a checkbook.)
- What messages did your father pass down to you about money?
- Do you remember hearing your parents talk about (or fight about) money?
- Growing up, did you have more than/less than/about the same as your peers?
Before even getting through the entire list, I noticed an instant trend linking to my feelings of scarcity and fear when it came to money.
To follow up with these, Jean says to then consider:
How is this affecting me in my life today?
How is this helping me?
How is this hurting me?
The area of personal finances that isn’t often spoken about is how important the mental aspect is. The way we think or feel about money shapes our spending and saving habits. It determines whether we are bold enough to ask for a raise, increase our rates, or choose to step away from a financially lucrative career for one that is more fulfilling.
Using the information I gathered from uncovering my money story, I decided to examine my time as an entrepreneur. I noticed that I was afraid to ask for what I was worth because I had this scarcity mindset that if I put myself out there I’d lose the opportunity altogether. So, I often found myself settling for the bare minimum and then being resentful or burnt out from it.
I also noticed how I let my pride and ego get in the way of me being more financially stable. I knew all last year that getting a part-time job would be a huge help, but I avoided it in fear of seeming like I couldn’t live up to my goals.
So, what did I do at the top of the year? I increased my rates and started saying a hard “no” way more than I did yes. I also swallowed my pride and got a part-time job. I practiced taking the word “broke” out of my self-talk, and speaking more positively and optimistically about money–instead of letting my thoughts on it come from a place of fear.
As a result, I’ve made a very decent amount at my part-time job, which has helped take the pressure and desperation out of the equation when I negotiate partnerships. I’ve also been able to land higher-paying deals because I approach them more confidently.
We’re only to month three of 2020 and I foresee myself making close to half of what I did last year very soon. All because I got to the root of my money story, have been actively working to shift my mindset around money, and from there have taken actionable steps. Though I still have a ways to go with my finances, it feels good to see some progress.
Today, I invite you to take a look at your money story. What’s the script you’ve internalized about it? And how can you use that to help you move forward?