I remember struggling years ago and a thought popped into my head, “Shouldn’t I have been taught this limiting money beliefs stuff in school?”
Since leaving education, I haven’t once used Pythagoras’s theorem (no offense to the dude). Yet each year, month, and day of my life I require skills that I have only obtained through trial and error (oh the errors). It dawned on me that the lack of useful emotional education in schools was detrimental to us as adults. Think about the first time you found out what a credit score or checking account was. Our financial literacy isn’t something that we had the opportunity to develop. Not only that but NEVER were we taught about limiting money beliefs. I mean if anything was taught about budgeting at all, it was about numbers…
This blog by no means is to pick apart the educational system, but rather reflect on what we were taught, how that leads to common misconceptions about limiting money beliefs, and what we can do to improve our relationship with budgeting and money, and finally find financial freedom.
Traditional Economics Vs Behavioral Economics
The Problem with Traditional Economics: It completely ignores limiting money beliefs
So, what were we taught in school? You may certainly remember learning about finances in school. However, it likely just focused on numbers and the assumption that human beings are logical and will always make the rational decision. If you were taught about economics in school, budgeting might have sounded like a breeze. I mean, if you leave your brains and limiting money beliefs out of it and you were a robot it kind of would be! Like it would be easy to make heaps of money and be successful.
I’ve yet to run across anyone who was truly taught the depth of our emotional connection to money and how our belief system and structure (especially limiting money beliefs) can so profoundly affect our success with money!
However, traditional economics is completely void of all the behavioral aspects of decision making. It avoids beliefs systems altogether and limiting money beliefs are relegated to the “woo-woo” category as if they have no impact on how our minds work. It frankly just isn’t that straightforward. It is no wonder we weren’t set up for success and most likely got the shock of our lives when we realized in adulthood that we hadn’t the faintest idea of what we were doing.
In my experience, money and budgeting are usually framed as a moral issue. That the decisions we make with money are either good or bad. This false narrative then starts to develop in our heads as we approach adulthood which evokes feelings of shame when less favorable decisions are made about money. Having money doesn’t mean you’re a good person and lacking it certainly doesn’t mean you’re bad. Your bank account figure doesn’t equate to your worth. Period. It is by no means the intention of the educational system to instill harmful beliefs. However, it cannot be denied that it may have contributed to the development of this misconception.
While I tread lightly, I think it’s too meaningful not to mention that the system is designed for us to stay in debt. The reason I am pointing this out is only to provide you with comfort in knowing that there is a reason you’re struggling with finances and it’s not just you (by any means). There is no doubt that some businesses and government entities have been specifically designed to make money from your lack of success or debt. The less we know about how to take control of our finances and understand them, the harder it is for us to make the correct decisions. To sum up, it ain’t your fault.
How Does Behavioral Economics Differ?
Behavioral Economics takes into account emotional, cognitive, and physiological factors as well as how social and cultural factors influence the way we process and make decisions. This is where you really start to get into the limiting money beliefs about how we feel about money and how it affects our decisions without us even realizing it. Why shouldn’t we be taking into account how our minds naturally work to make decisions? Humans are pretty predictable, it turns out. However, we are also illogical. This is not something that should be shamed, blamed, or changed.
We need to stop trying to change our habits and focus instead on shifting our internal limiting money beliefs. Once we have a more supportive understanding of what we believe and change the way we see ourselves, our habits naturally fall in line.
We choose self-compassion and understanding as to how our brains work. There is so much power in knowledge. We can rewrite these limiting money beliefs and pre-established misconceptions and change the way we approach and think about money. We spend a lot of time thinking about the past and worrying about the future. Where does this stress come from? Society, institutions, and even the people closest to us shape our beliefs that could either be false, damaging or both.
You deserve to be happy, fulfilled, and content. If you think your relationship with money could use some TLC, check out the ways that I can help empower you with your finances and budgeting. Click here for more helpful blog articles and visit my how to work with Sarah page to learn about how I can support you more directly.