In my eBook 4 Steps, I talk about our emotions being a critical factor in shaping our behaviors about money. How you feel when you are spending, budgeting or saving can create positive or negative behaviors. If the behaviors are negative, then it’s likely you will make short-term decisions regarding money that certainly lead to long-term financial regret. Like using credit cards to purchase items. In the long run, credit cards cost you more money and suck you into the credit card debt trap forever.
However, there is another element that can influence your behaviors regarding money, and similar to your emotions can dictate your conduct.
Self-limiting beliefs are thoughts and beliefs about money that limit your ability to get out of debt or keep you in debt. These beliefs are typically formed over time, either as children or as we go through life’s many experiences. We don’t think of these beliefs as right or wrong – there just beliefs or thoughts. These beliefs are never challenged because they are so heavily ingrained in our day to day behaviors.
If you are trying to work your way out of debt and save money, self-limiting beliefs and thoughts may be a key reason you are unable to improve your overall financial position.
- Paying Off Debt Using The Snowball Method
- Establishing an Emergency Fund.
- More Self-Limiting Beliefs about Debt and the Boogeyman
Listed below are three common self-limiting beliefs (SLB) about money and how these beliefs can negatively impact your ability to get out of debt and/or save cash.
SLB #1: If I Made More Money then I Wouldn’t Have any Debt, or if I Made More Money than I Could Pay My Debt Off
Read any recent publication on credit card debt in America and you will find the proportion of debt carried by an individual or household rises proportionally with their income. For example; if you make $30,000 per year and your credit card debt balance represents 10% ($3000) of your income, when your income rises to $50,000 per year it’s likely your credit card debt will follow suit at 10% ($5000). Why?
Fact – The ability to reduce or eliminate your debt is not a function of how much money you make, but rather a belief that spending with credit is unacceptable.
There are numerous individuals making six-figure incomes that have the same proportion of debt as someone making $30,000 a year (I was one of them). If you want to get out of debt and stay out of debt, you have to be willing to challenge the self-limiting belief that more money solves your debt problem. Changing your behaviors will get you out of debt, not more money.
Incidentally, this self-limiting belief is similar to the belief that winning the lottery will solve your financial problems. The reality – research has found that 70% of lottery winners (with significant winnings) end up bankrupt within 2 years of them receiving their windfall.
Understanding our beliefs and making simple positive changes can be easier said than done. If you would like to read more about making life changes and getting unstuck, check out my Great Reads Book Reviews. The books are all #1 Best Sellers and can be a helpful resource for creating a lifestyle of positive change, empowerment, and confidence.
SLB #2: A Loan is the Only Way to Purchase a Vehicle
The thought process surrounding this self-limiting belief typically works like this.
- I need a reliable vehicle to get to work and/or drive my children around. I don’t have time for a vehicle that is not dependable.
- A used vehicle is less reliable than a new one.
- A used vehicle will cost more in maintenance in the long run.
- A new vehicle is more reliable and comes with a warranty.
- A new vehicle is expensive.
- I don’t have the cash to buy a new vehicle so I will take out a loan to purchase one.
This self-limiting belief inevitably assures that you will have a vehicle loan the rest of your life, and of course, the debt that comes with it. Rather ironic isn’t it? If you’re trying to get out of debt, but you believe the only way to purchase a vehicle is to take on more debt?
Fact – Of course we all need a reliable vehicle. However, the belief that an expensive new car is the only way to meet our expectations of reliability is false. Cars are manufactured much better than they were years ago. It’s not uncommon for cars to last well over 175,000 miles or more before there is any major maintenance issue. Most of us will purchase 6-7 vehicles over our lifetime.
Taking out a loan each time we purchase a vehicle is an expensive lifetime proposition.
In regards to that great warranty you get with a new more reliable vehicle, keep this in perspective. A warranty protects you from paying for any unforeseen maintenance issues you may have. A warranty does not protect you from the fact your new car may be in the shop for a week (how’s that for reliability). And that great new car warranty, you’re paying for it in the inflated cost of the vehicle and the loans finance charges.
Saving cash to purchase a vehicle can seem like an insurmountable goal, especially if you’re in the midst of working your way out of debt. However, if you can establish a consistent savings plan (Filling The Pig), and purchase your first used vehicle with cash, you will break the car loan debt cycle (that’s a mouth full).
The first car you purchase with cash is never your “dream” vehicle. But over time, as you save more and more money, each subsequent vehicle purchase allows you to upgrade to a better vehicle. Each upgrade improves the reliability of the car and the length of time you have it. In no time you can be driving a reliable, great looking used car without all the debt.
- How to Purchase a Vehicle with Cash
- Why I Buy Vehicles with Cash – I Just Spent $2,500 on Repairs and I’m Loving It
- Take Control of Your Personal Finances in 3 Months
If you are financing your current vehicle, challenge this self-limiting belief and start saving cash. In the long run, buying a car with cash will not only keep you out of debt but allow you to save more money and Fill The Pig.
SLB #3: I’m Just Not Very Good with Money
Whoa! Don’t beat yourself up on this one. It’s not like they offered a class in personal finance in high school, or money management was a requirement to becoming a U.S Citizen. More often than not, wandering into debt is more a function of “we don’t know what we don’t know”, and less about not being very good with money.
Fact – Debt is not a lifetime sentence. Anyone can learn about budgeting, using the Snowball Method to pay off debt or leverage the FTP Cash Ladder to save money. All it requires is a change in your beliefs about what you are capable of learning, some focus, and discipline. If you’re struggling with debt, get educated.
Challenge Your Beliefs
If you are feeling stuck in your financial situation, and want desperately to get out – challenge your beliefs about money. Self-limiting beliefs can impact every aspect of how we think about debt, saving cash, and the purchases we make. The key is to recognize how these beliefs influence your day to day decisions surrounding money and then changing the behaviors they create.
- Emotional Agility, by Susan David – a great book that will teach you how to get unstuck and approach life’s many changes.
- Compare Your Auto Insurance Rates with esurance
- Debt Calculator – run the numbers on how long it will take you to pay off debt.
Are there other Self-limiting Beliefs? Feel free to comment below.
Stop Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck