Over half of American adults are “financially anxious” and function with a poor level of financial literacy.
Financial literacy really just means an ability to understand and use the financial skills that most impact your personal finances — budgeting, saving, and managing debt.
If poor financial literacy equates to poor financial well-being, then we can assume that a majority of us have room for improvement in this area.
And while financial literacy acts as the building blocks of financial well-being, is there more to the story than simply learning how to budget?
One of the key elements to improving financial well-being lies in our relationship to the concept of wealth itself.
We often think of the word “relationship” in terms of our interactions with other people. But over time, based on our early experiences with money, the messaging we receive through media, and the values we are taught as children, we develop a set of beliefs about the concept of wealth that often stick with us well into adulthood.
These beliefs about money may be unconscious, and come from something as simple as a parent telling you, “We can’t afford that.” You may come to believe that money can make you feel secure and able to provide for those you love. You may believe that money can bring joy, or it can bring feelings of resentment and anxiety, or even feelings of elitism. We can view wealth negatively if we believe it encourages corruption or social competition.
As adults, these “money mindsets” intensify, and become barriers to true financial wellness. While learning financial literacy tools like budgeting, debt management, and investing are important (and there are plenty of resources out there to support you in those endeavors), we know that examining and repairing your relationship to money is important too.
Here are some steps you can take to begin building a more positive money mindset:
- Explore and reflect on your relationship to money. Think about the core beliefs you hold about wealth and success. Who did you observe as a child, and what do you think their relationship to money was/is? Investigate and, if necessary, challenge the beliefs that you were taught.
- Try viewing money as just a tool. Just like you learn to use physical tools to build something, you can learn how to use money to build the life you want.
- Let go of the belief that money is “complicated” or “confusing.”This belief that money is “beyond you” will only hold you back and keep you complacent. Wherever you are in your journey with money, there is always something more you can do to actively improve your situation.
- Create some positive money affirmations. Affirmations are a great way to build a sense of empowerment, and get you through any moments of doubt as you work on your relationship to money. Some examples include: “I am open and receptive to all the wealth life brings.” “I release all resistance to attracting money.”
- Understand that your current money situation is not permanent. This is key — no matter what your current finances look like, it is temporary. Try to remain focused on achieving your goals, and not just the amount of money you need to make those goals happen.
- Resist comparisons. It can be really easy to get caught in the comparison web, where you continually look to your peers for proof of where you “should be” financially. But just remember: there is no way to truly know anyone else’s financial well-being, no matter what they post on social media.