How I Taught Myself to Be Financially Secure — and How You Can Do It, Too.

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The pursuit of financial security is a universal aspiration, regardless of profession or background. While achieving financial well-being may appear daunting, it is a journey that can be navigated with the right mindset, knowledge and strategies.

This is a straightforward account of my experiences, the financial lessons I’ve learned the hard way and the personal realizations that have shaped my understanding of money. Let’s get real — not having enough money goes beyond numbers in your bank account. It’s an emotionally draining burden that feels stressful and, at times, is almost too much to bear.

This isn’t your exhaustive guide to all things financial; life’s too complex for that. I’ll break down some specific layers that lie deep within us and shape our perception of finances: things like childhood programming, societal expectations, the subtle art of self-sabotage and your relationship with money.

Related: 5 Entrepreneurial Mindset Principles That Empower Financial Literacy

1. Breaking the chains of limiting beliefs

For many years, I proudly embraced the belief that money was beneath me. As an idealist, a creative spirit and a healer, discussing money was crass. Little did I realize that by keeping this belief, I was inadvertently causing myself years of stress, overspending and being taken advantage of.

I realized that the journey toward financial security often begins with confronting and dismantling limiting beliefs about money. These beliefs, often formed in childhood or reinforced by societal expectations, can act as invisible barriers, hindering our progress.

Common limiting beliefs include:

  • “I’m not good with money.”
  • “Making money is hard.”
  • “Wealthy people are bad.”
  • “I don’t deserve financial abundance.”

Harboring limiting beliefs about money can lead you down a path of negative financial behaviors. These beliefs, often formed in childhood or reinforced by societal expectations, can hold you back from achieving financial security. They can manifest as avoiding budgeting, overspending and neglecting financial planning, ultimately hindering your progress. The first step towards financial empowerment is recognizing these limiting beliefs and their potential consequences. Once you become aware of them, you can challenge these beliefs and replace them with empowering perspectives. Now, I advocate for open and honest conversations about money, by which we can dismantle the stigma that surrounds financial discussions and empower ourselves and others to make informed financial decisions.

Tips:

  • Self-reflection: Engage in journaling or introspection to identify your ingrained beliefs about money. Ask yourself questions like, “What messages did I receive about money growing up?” or “How do I feel when I think about money?”
  • Fact-checking: Once you’ve identified your limiting beliefs, research and challenge their validity. Seek information from reputable sources such as government agencies, financial institutions or trusted financial professionals.
  • Positive affirmations: Replace negative thoughts with empowering affirmations. Instead of “I’m not good with money,” tell yourself, “I am actively learning to manage my finances effectively.”
  • Seek guidance: Consider enrolling in financial literacy workshops, online courses or seeking guidance from financial advisors or mentors.

2. Empower yourself with financial literacy

Financial literacy is the foundation of informed financial decision-making. According to the Journal of Economic Education, individuals with higher levels of financial literacy tend to make better financial decisions, leading to improved financial well-being. Never fall into the trap of believing that making “just a little” money is enough because it hinders personal growth and the ability to make a meaningful impact on the world with the resources you have.

Related: Top 5 Tools to Help Improve Your Financial Literacy

How to build your financial toolkit

Budgeting: Track the budget that is suitable for your income and expenses through budget-tracking apps. These tools can help you categorize your spending, identify areas for improvement and allocate funds toward savings and debt repayment.

Goal setting: Define both short-term and long-term financial goals. This could include saving for a down payment on a house, funding your child’s education or building a comfortable retirement nest egg. Having clear goals provides direction and motivation for your financial planning.

Understanding financial products: Explore different investment vehicles like stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate. Don’t forget to consider your risk tolerance, financial goals and investment timeframe. Seek professional guidance from a financial advisor if needed.

Debt management: Develop a debt repayment plan that prioritizes high-interest debts and creates a strategy to pay them off efficiently. Consider debt consolidation or refinancing options, if applicable.

3. Invest in yourself

The most valuable investment you can make is in yourself. This goes beyond formal education and encompasses continuous learning, skill development and personal growth. Individuals who invest in their skills through training and immersion experience higher earnings and career advancement. So, don’t downplay your worth. You can get that higher-paying role and start your own practice, shaped by hours that suit you and by honing your skills. Commit to yourself and embody an entrepreneurial mindset.

What I’ve learned is that you cannot save your way out of debt or budget your way to becoming wealthy. You won’t find the right job to end your financial woes. I’ve tried them all, and by far, the best way to make more money is by investing in yourself and harnessing the true power of knowledge. Dedicate time and effort to self-improvement, ultimately becoming your own financial powerhouse.

Related: 5 Ways You Can Become More Financially Stable

I’ve lived through all of the scenarios mentioned above. I’ve witnessed the extremes of financial experiences, from amassing wealth to hitting rock bottom and relying on Social Security Disability Insurance. Life threw major challenges my way, demanding a complete restart and reinvention. What became glaringly evident to me was that the actual money itself had little to do with the outcomes. It was more about me — where I stood in my growth journey and what I believed was possible.

As cliche as it may sound, financial security is really a continuous journey. It requires commitment, discipline and consistent effort. By actively challenging limiting beliefs, acquiring financial knowledge, investing in yourself and making informed financial decisions, you can build a solid foundation for a secure financial future.

Remember to cultivate a growth mindset, believing in your ability to learn, adapt and improve your financial situation. View challenges as opportunities for growth and consider seeking professional guidance who can tailor strategies to your specific needs and goals if needed. Celebrate your big and small wins to stay motivated and prioritize long-term goals by practicing delayed gratification and living within your means.