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To Whip Your Wallet Into Shape, Ditch These 3 Toxic Mindsets


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A man holding up his hands showing he has no money, isolated against a white background
If you're trying to get your financial situation in order, you have to grapple with lot more than simply making the math work. Money is based in your mindset. If you're approaching money from a skewed perspective, even the best-laid plans won't bring you much success.

Let's take a look at three of the most common bad money mindsets that can keep you from having a healthy relationship with money -- and how to get over them.

1. "Money Is the Root of All Evil"

What it looks like in action: You feel guilty about earning and spending money. Maybe your parents drilled this mindset into you as a kid; maybe you developed it by watching their own financial struggles. Either way, you don't trust money and feel it leads to all sorts of ailments: stress, greed, you name it.

The problem with this mindset: Money is not inherently evil; there are just good and bad ways to spend it. By dismissing it as troublesome, you're missing out on all of the good it can do in your life, from paying for your kids' education to helping out your favorite charity.

How to fix it: You need to reprogram your brain to recognize money as something that is neither good or bad, but simply a tool. Figure out what ultimate goal you'd like to devote your money to and how you can get there. Reframing your money as a means to a positive end, and act accordingly.

2. "No One Gets Rich -- Unless They Win the Lottery"

What it looks like in action: You just can't seem to get ahead, and you've resigned yourself to the notion that "that's just the way things are." You believe people who "make it" are lucky (or cheating the system) and you resent them for it, but you're also oddly proud of the way you're struggling and scrounging to make ends meet.

The problem with this mindset: It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Viewing life as an unending struggle -- and viewing money as a scarce resource that's hard to come by -- prevents you from creating the wealth that is very much within your reach.

How to fix it: Take a long, hard look at those people who've "made it" and figure out what they did to get there. Sure, a few of them may have been handed a small fortune by the inheritance gods, but what about the rest? Maybe they dedicated themselves to professional development and put in long hours working their way up the ladder. Maybe they learned how to invest their money wisely and earned great returns. The same discipline and dedication you're using to live paycheck to paycheck could be transferred to a healthier goal that will pay off way more.

3. "I'm Just No Good with Money"

What it looks like in action: You feel like there's always something waiting to go wrong with your finances -- and it's usually your fault. Every time you get a windfall, something winds up going wrong and eating it all up. You've wracked up a ton of debt and can't even remember why, and you have little hope that things will ever be any different -- you just seem to suck at money.

The problem with this mindset: Even if you've made some really bad choices in the past, you can still change course. People have paid off tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt and radically changed their financial outlook -- take a look at this couple that paid off $46,000 in credit-card debt. But you can't change anything if you've thrown up your hands and decided you're simply a dolt when it comes to money and there's no hope left for you.

How to fix it: You need to get to the root of your bad money moves so you can learn from your mistakes and make a plan to avoid repeating them. Sit down with yourself and identify why you're in this situation. Are you prone to impulse purchases? Have you failed to stick to (or create) a budget? Once you know where things have gone wrong, you can work to set them right-so long as you believe it's in your power.

Paula Pant ditched her 9-to-5 job in 2008. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns seven rental units and runs a business from her laptop. Her blog, Afford Anything, is a gathering spot for rebels who want to ditch the cubicle, shatter limits and live life on your own terms -- while also building wealth, security and freedom.


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