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Lesson 2d: Beliefs & Budgeting

Objective: Become aware of your beliefs about money

There are many beliefs that may influence your thoughts about money:

  • I need to fight for my share of a limited pie.
  • I need to work hard to have enough money.
  • Due to the economy, I am in survival mode, living day-to-day.
  • I will never have any wealth.

"A man is what he believes."
-Anton Chekhov

Some of the beliefs above come from scarcity consciousness, the idea that we have to fight for our share of limited resources.   It is a consciousness that encourages the thought, "If I have just have a little bit more, then I will be ok."  But, it does not matter if you make $25,000 or $150,000, because if we are coming from a place of sacrifice, then no matter how much we have, we will always need a little bit more.  Think about the last time you received a decent raise.  Were you grateful for the increase?  If so, how long did it last before you wanted the next raise?  Probably a few months or a year at most. 

What causes these thoughts about scarcity?  They are just thought patterns that we have learned over the years - "For some people to be rich, some people need to be poor."  Yet, when we believe in scarce resources ("I just need a little bit more"), we grab and hold onto our possessions tighter. This in turn intensifies the feeling of scarcity and makes scarcity seem even more real.  Beliefs are the basis of what we allow to enter into our lives.  If we believe in scarcity, we will bring scarcity into our lives.  We will always want just a little bit more and wonder why we can not get ahead.  If we are nervous and frantic about money, we will bring financial worry into our lives.  One will start watching his investments, worrying about the next stock market or real estate market crash.  Instead, if we have a prosperity consciousness, then we will see the gifts of the world all around us.  This does not mean that we will get new gifts, but that we will start seeing and appreciating the gifts that are already around us.

So what do we do about our beliefs?  We look at your situation from a different perspective.  Rather than scarcity, focus on abundance and how much you have.  Positive energy begets positive results.  For most of us, basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing are met.  This is not always the case in our society and is not the case in parts of Africa and other parts of the world.  Look at what you have to be grateful for and realize how far you are from true scarcity.

So what does this have to do with a budget?  If you start with a feeling of prosperity rather than poverty, it is easier to take concrete actions on your budget.  If you believe in scarcity, it will be harder to downsize your budget because you will feel the need to keep "the few things" that you do have.  If you believe that you have all that you need, it is easier to pair down your budget because the difference between needs and wants is clearer and you can cut out some of the wants without feeling like you are sacrificing. 

For now, when you do your budget, just concentrate on your beliefs and how you feel.  It is more important for now just to understand your beliefs about your budget.  Some of the more common issues behind these beliefs (self-worth issues and fear of having enough) will be addressed in the next few sections.   In the meantime, the first step to changing your beliefs is to recognize them.  Because once you recognize your beliefs, you can take action to change them.  For example, if you do not believe that you can stick to a budget, you will find ways subconsciously to sabotage your budget.  If you recognize your beliefs about not sticking to a budget, you can start asking the right questions to fix it.  Did you just ignore it?  Or, did you not factor in surprises like the dishwasher breaking down, and did those setbacks discourage you?  Once you find the reason, you can fix it.  If you believe that you need a little bit more to be happy, practice gratitude for what you do have now (the next section will discuss this further).

Exercise: Take 30 minutes and brainstorm all the beliefs that you have about money.  Do not judge these beliefs at this time, just write them down.  After the 30 minutes, think about where you learned these: from parents, from friends, from past experiences, etc.
Personal Topic : Gratitude
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