Updated: Jun 18, 2019
As consumers, we benefit by learning from proven methods of financial management. However, there’s another aspect of consumer money management that is worth exploring. That is the mindset we have in regards to being successful with our personal finances. Many people have found that changing how they think about money, starts to change the results they have with money.
Have you ever found yourself having wishful thoughts like, “I just can’t get ahead,” “I sure wish I could buy a new car but I can’t afford it,” or “I’ll never be able to own a nice home.” This line of thinking is called the “scarcity mindset” or “scarcity mentality.” In basic terms, the scarcity mindset is based on the notion that there will never be enough…whether it’s money, food or other material needs.
The result of such a mindset leads to decisions and actions that are rooted in fear or the perception of not having enough. These poor decisions can then lead to not having enough in reality.
This scarcity mindset could keep you from achieving wealth because it keeps you continually focused on what you don’t have rather than seeking new ideas or opportunities to improve your situation. So, by thinking we don’t have enough, we tend to cling to everything we have out of fear of being short of resources.
The scarcity mindset can also make you feel that you’re not worthy of success or wealth, which can also cause you to make poor financial decisions.
So, if you think you have a scarcity mentality and want to overcome it, or just want to improve how you think about money, below are some ideas that can be used to develop a successful money mindset.
When presented with a spending opportunity that you don’t have the funds for currently, instead of thinking, “I can’t afford it,” ask yourself “how can I afford it.” This will shift your mindset from defeat to creativity and your mind will start coming up with ideas to help you achieve the goal of affording the item or service that you need or want.
It’s also helpful to use the language of prosperity. For example, avoid thinking “I can’t afford it.” Rather, try thinking “I have other priorities at the moment” or “I will buy that when I achieve my financial goal.”
Practicing gratefulness is another great way to improve your mindset about money. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, take time to focus on all the little things that you are grateful for each day. Even if there are many things that are challenging in your life, everyone can find something to be grateful for - like running warm water in your home. When you start to think about what you don’t have, catch yourself and replace the thought with something you are grateful for.
Consider being more generous. The scarcity mindset often shows up as hoarding behavior. In order to change that behavior, you need to let go of stuff and be willing to give it to others. For example, you could donate household items to a worthy cause. Better yet, you could make it a life-long practice of donating unused items to a charitable organization.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Scarcity thinking also often leads to overspending because you want to keep up with others. If you allow envy to guide your decisions, it may lead to huge bills, which further hurts your financial situation in reality.
Remind yourself that you are just as worthy of financial success as anyone else. Encourage yourself to take steps to improve your situation.
Begin taking small steps to grow your wealth even if you don’t have much to invest. For example, open a savings account. Explore the possibility of investing in the stock market. If you have a 401k account, then increase your contributions. Even if you don’t have much to put into these accounts on a monthly basis, just a small amount will give you a feeling of accomplishment and improve your mindset. And, the little investments add up greatly over time.
In the end, it comes down to changing your scarcity mindset to thinking in terms of abundance. By moving away from a scarcity belief and replacing it with positive thoughts, you become more tolerant of risk and understand that you need to spend money and be generous to make money.