When it comes to our relationship with money, there’s one thing that has a big impact that you might not readily acknowledge — your money story. Your money story is the narrative you have about money that affects everything from your beliefs to behaviors. Read on to learn more about how figuring out your money story can help you change your finances.
You might wonder, “Where does my money story come from, anyway?” Your story evolves over time and throughout your life depending on your relationships and experiences.
Much of your money story likely comes from the way you were raised, how your parents thought about money, and what they taught you about money. It can also come from friends, colleagues, and your culture.
The way you relate to money can be affected by all of these relationships and events in your life. Whether you think so or not, they can affect the way you manage your money, spend money, or relate to money for better or worse.
I Had to Re-Evaluate My Story to Pay Off Debt
Before I committed to paying off $81,000 in student loans, I felt stuck. After a while, I realized it was my money story holding me back.
I had so many money beliefs that kept me in the same place. I thought “everyone has student loans” and “student loans are the good debt”. I also told myself that “rich people are greedy” and “money is evil”.
Having these stories made certain that I would not pay off my debt and that I would be broke. I realized I picked up many of these money stories from my upbringing, culture, and a starving artist mentality.
I had to create a new money story to commit to paying off debt. My new money story is that no debt was good debt. That money was just a tool, not evil.
Re-creating my money story and looking at the beliefs that held me back propelled me forward on my journey. I was able to pay off my debt, quit my low-paying nonprofit job for self-employment, and more.
How to Figure Out Your Story
I want you to figure out your money story so you can see which narratives are holding you back. It can be easy to think of beliefs as “facts” but they are really just thoughts we’ve thought over and over again.
So it does require you to have some flexibility and willingness to change. I know it can be tempting to hold on tight to our beliefs because they make up our world. But what if your beliefs are no longer serving you?
To help identify your money story, write down the answers in a journal:
- What messages about money did I learn from my family?
- What implicit or explicit messages did I get from my culture?
- What are my current thoughts about money, debt, and wealth?
- Where did these messages come from?
- What beliefs do I have about earning money? (it’s hard, it’s bad, etc.)
- What is my earliest money memory?
- What is an experience or conversation that has shaped my relationship with money?
Answering these questions will give you deep insight into your money story and overall relationship with money. When you identify your money story, you can work on rewriting a new one that works with you or your current goals.
Given my example, how was I going to pay off debt when I dismissed it as something everyone has? How was I ever going to earn more money if I just thought that rich people are greedy? Those beliefs were a repellent, making my goals and beliefs at odds.
Same thing could be happening to you but you don’t realize it yet. So think about your money goals. What are they? What are your money beliefs and money stories that may be at odds with reaching those goals? To help ditch that money story, write a new one.
How to Write a New Story
The next step is to write a new money story. Obviously, this is something that won’t be done overnight, but you can work toward rewiring your thoughts and having new beliefs. Write down the money thoughts you want to have that will support your goal.
So maybe your current money story is:
“I’ll always be broke”
You can change it and write down:
“I will always have enough”
You can write that down every day. Repeat it to yourself in the mirror. Remember, beliefs are thoughts that we’ve thought about again and again. Adopting a new money story can help you lessen some feelings of anxiety and can help you reach your financial goals.
Sometimes our beliefs about money aren’t even our own. It’s simply what we’ve picked up along the way. It’s all the things, big and small, that have shaped us along the way.
If you’ve been trying to reach your financial goals or pay off debt and feel you can’t make progress, your money story may be holding you back. Of course, there are very real things holding you back from being able to earn more and spend less that are systemic, such as healthcare, childcare, and educational costs, sexism and racism. However, there may still be some work you can do on your money story so you personally have a healthier relationship with money.