How I Transformed My Limiting Beliefs About Money

Book cover of You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

Unfortunately, there isn’t a miraculous strategy to achieving Financial Independence (unless you win the lottery or inherit lots of moolah).

The equation is the same for all, young or old and anyone in between.

Decrease your expenses, increase your income and invest the difference between your income and expenses. Add time … and voila, you will arrive at the destination of financial independence.

I recently wrote that the most important money habit is to spend less than you earn. And that combining this habit with increasing your income is undeniably the best strategy to achieve FI.

In my own journey, I have focused on decreasing my expenses because it is something I can do immediately. And because at heart, I am a spender. So I wanted to build good spending habits first and get my spending under control.

I am now ready to look at the other part of the equation – it is time I focus on increasing my income.

And … that is when I hit the BRICK WALL of limiting beliefs so fast that I am bruised all over and covered in bandages.

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You are a Badass at Making Money

I started reading Jen Sincero’s You are a Badass at Making Money. – Master the Mindset of Wealth.

Her premise is this – if you are ready to make more money, you can.

Seriously, this is her FIRST sentence, in the introduction.

And this is me, incredulously  – yeah, right!

Can you see how much work is ahead of me?

In a nutshell, I don’t believe I can make more money.

I am at that stage of my life where working hard over the years led to burnout. And I eventually transitioned to a role with less responsibilities and overtime and therefore less pay.

So, now I want to earn more money?

My head is screaming – are you nuts? Remember burnout? Do you want to go there again? It’s taken you a while to recover and chill, to love having time to yourself again. You want to give that up?

This is why it took me over two months to read the book. You should have heard the conversations I had with myself … it wasn’t easy confronting my many limiting beliefs about making money.

My limiting beliefs hold me back

I live a privileged life – money has never been an issue, not in my childhood and not as an adult. Even when I did not have a full time job when I graduated from university, I managed to survive with part time and casual jobs. I have always had enough food, clothes and a roof over my head. My parents had enough money to educate me.

And yet, I have so many limiting beliefs about making money and having money in general. I understand that a lot of these money beliefs are from my childhood – observing how my parents handled money and what their beliefs were about money.

Reading this book helps me confront the truths of these beliefs and rewrite them.

Here we go …

Limiting Belief #1 - Money is the root of all evil

I subconsciously believe that if I have a lot of money, I would be an evil person; that having a lot of money may make me do evil things … so it’s best not to have too much.

The truth is that money is a tool. A tool that can be used for good or evil. It is up to us, human beings to choose how we use it. Money, in itself is not evil.

My new truth – I have control – I choose to use money for good, to be generous with it, to help those in need. The more money I have, the more time I can spend volunteering and helping others without worrying about how to support myself.

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Limiting Belief #2 - Money can't buy happiness

This is true.

There are happy people who don’t have money and unhappy people who have a lot of money. The converse is also true.

What makes me happy can cost a lot or nothing.

Veggie gardening makes me happy – seeing my seedlings grow and produce food is so therapeutic. It is my dream to be able to raise seedlings from seeds I save but I am not there yet. So I spend money to buy seedlings and seeds. My worms and composting system are not working to full capacity yet so I have to buy good quality potting mix every now and then.

Another activity that brings me joy is travelling to new destinations, experiencing other cultures, eating other cuisines, meeting local folk. I can do it inexpensively by visiting countries with a lower cost of living than Australia. But it is also my dream to visit Antarctica one day – I even list it as a goal for the decade. Visiting Antarctica is expensive!

I love spoiling my family or friends. It would be nice to do so without worrying about how much experiences or gifts cost. Spending time with them also involve having enough money to slow travel to see some of them overseas.

So the truth is that money supports my happiness. Yes, I can be happy and adjust my wants and expectations accordingly if I didn’t have money. But having more money will not make me unhappy automatically – it is how I earn the money and what I do with the money that matters.

Limiting Belief #3 - I am greedy to want more money

Am I greedy to want more money?

How much is enough?

Am I not grateful to have what I have already?

The truth is I am striving to reach financial independence so I don’t have to depend on anyone, including the government to support me in my old age. Being single, I am my own back up plan; I have no one else to rely on. And it would be a bonus if I can leave my niece something when I pass on.

I don’t want more money for money’s sake.

My FI ‘number’ covers my every day expenses plus the ability to travel overseas. Making more money would enable me to reach FI by 55 – it is a self imposed deadline and I am 100% ok with working part time if I can’t meet this deadline.

I am immensely grateful to be in the position I am in – I am incredibly lucky to be able to pursue financial independence in the first place.


Limiting Belief #4 - Wanting to make more money is not a worthy pursuit

I struggle with this. It is closely related to limiting belief #3.

I feel guilty whenever I think about making more money. Am I shallow and unworthy to think about making more money? I should be thinking about how to solve world peace and feed the hungry instead; or something noble like that.

My new truth – I give myself permission to make more money. Once again, I don’t want more money to hoard it. I will use it wisely – first of all, to ensure I don’t need anyone to bail me out financially and secondly, to enable me to donate my time and more money to charities or causes dear to me.

Limiting Belief #5 - Rich people are snobbish and selfish, therefore I don't want to be rich

Um … I seem to have a lot of hang ups about being rich.

I am generally unimpressed by the outwardly rich people, in particular entitled and spoiled celebrities. But there are lots of people who are rich (think Millionaires next door types) but you wouldn’t know it. They are the kind of rich people I aspire to be.

My new truth – I don’t have to be a spoilt brat rich person. I don’t have to change the fundamental me, just because one day, I will have a net worth of a million dollars. I give myself permission to be rich. (As a sign of much work to be done yet … I’m shuddering as I type the last sentence)

Limiting Belief #6 - Money doesn't grow on trees

In other words, money is hard to come by. So don’t squander it, don’t gamble it away. Keep it safe. You don’t know if you will get more and when you will get more.

This was drummed into me from a young age.

That is why I feel guilty when I spend money. And why perversely, I get such a thrill at the same time when I do spend it. It’s me rebelling against parental teaching.

My new truth –  I believe I can make more money. I believe I am able to invest it according to my risk appetite and that my money invested in index funds is safe.

Limiting Belief #7 - I will burn out again

This is a big fear for me.

Having experienced burn out before, I never want to experience it again. Ever.

My fear is that if I start pursuing an increase in income, I will spend more time and energy working on side hustles, leading to less time for relaxation and once again, living a stressful life.

My new truth – I am in control of my life. I get to decide how much time I want to spend increasing my income. And how much time I have to wind down and relax. I can set in non negotiable rest times and guard against burn out. It doesn’t mean that I will automatically be burned out if I explore ways to increase my income.


Limiting Belief #8 - If I don't work hard for my money, I don't deserve it

I was brought up to work hard, that success (and therefore money) would follow.

Therefore learning about passive income was mind blowing.

You mean I can earn money from not actively working?

I understood about being paid a dividend from owning shares in a company. But investing upfront with time and work on a digital product and then be paid every time someone buys it? Amazing!

My new truth – it is ok to embrace passive income and work hard at establishing passive income streams.


Australian bank notes | Money limiting beliefs
Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash

Limiting Belief #9 - I am not smart enough to make a 6 figure income

I have never earned a 6 figure salary. In all my years of working, I can only recall negotiating for a pay rise once, in my early years.My pay has obviously increased over the years, just not by leaps and bounds.

Earning a 6 figure income has always seemed unattainable. But more than that, I don’t believe I am capable of earning a 6 figure income.

My new truth – I can figure out how to earn a 6 figure income if I develop some passive income streams.

Limiting Belief #10 - Being an entrepreneur is too risky

Both my parents worked for a corporate giant. They expounded the great value of having a stable job and secure income. Having one’s own business was too risky.

I somehow absorbed this thinking too.

Since discovering FIRE blogs & podcasts, I have started to view entrepreneurship as a valid way to earn a living and that a 9-5 job can be risky too.

My new truth – I can be my own boss, establishing those passive income streams, starting with this blog, to supplement my 9-5 job. Baby steps!


Busting those limiting beliefs

Obviously, letting go of our limiting beliefs doesn’t happen overnight. They have been our truths for a long time. Changing them to our new truths or new mindset will take time.

I love Sincero’s explanation of how mindset works.

Your beliefs take you where you are going – they drive the bus.

But your thoughts are like the tour guide – they work in conjunction with the bus driver and have the right of veto ie they can change your direction.

Your words are the assistant – they help your thoughts and beliefs to be real, to have a voice.

Your emotions keep you excited and motivated – it is the fuel to keep you going.

And lastly, your actions build the road for your beliefs to travel on but can easily be diverted by thoughts and emotions.

And when all these aspects of mindset work together, you can make things happen.

Are you ready for some woo woo - ness?

According to Sincero, there is a force larger than ourselves at work – she calls it Universal Intelligence or some people call it God or Spirit or the Universe.

Our thoughts influence the energy that is reflected back to us. So if we keep thinking that we can never afford that expensive holiday then Universal Intelligence notes that and we will be stuck at home. But if we imagine it and dream about it and are open to making it happen, then Universal Intelligence will take note and arrange the energy to make it manifest in physical form.

I will be honest – this was where I got stuck – it was a bit woowoo for me. But after the next few chapters, I understand what she means.

Our thoughts are powerful. Our beliefs can hinder us or motivate us to achieve whatever we want to achieve. If we desperately want something, we’ll make it happen. If you tell yourself constantly that you are no good with money, then you will not want to learn how to manage it, how to earn more of it.

So if you want to make more money, you need to be open to making more money. You need to put it out there, to the Universe that you are open to any opportunities it sends your way.

It is our mindset that we need to change. It is the stories we tell ourselves that dictate the paths we follow.


And ... umm ... it works!

I will admit that I am utterly shocked that it kinda works.

As I mentioned earlier, visiting Antarctica is one of three goals I want to achieve within this decade. And amazingly, a few weeks ago, Frogdancer Jones wrote a post about wanting to visit Antartica too. So I sent her a DM on Twitter and asked if I could join her. She graciously said yes and that we will be looking at 2022 or 2023 as a realistic timeline due to Covid travel restrictions. And that it will give us time to save for the trip.

So now all of a sudden, there is a target year. And the need to save up just became more real. I have a travel fund that is adding up quite nicely as I haven’t travelled this year. But I also wish to visit family overseas so this travel fund is more or less spoken for.

Therefore I need new income to funnel into my Antarctica fund.

And this is where I practised the woowoo-ness I learned from reading You are a Badass at Making Money. You have no idea how uncomfortable I feel, closing my eyes and saying out loud – I am open to making more money. I want to earn more money.

I am not joking – a day after I did this – out of the blue, two, not one but two people reached out and asked me about an affiliate. Eventually by the end of the week, I had two people use my affiliate link. NO ONE HAD EVER USED MY AFFILIATE LINKS BEFORE. EVER. I am so grateful (you know who you are!) that I am on my way to Antartica!

I also signed up to Octopus Group, an online survey provider in Australia, and has earned nearly $10, answering a few surveys (while watching TV and at my lunch breaks).

I’m not saying I’m raking it in but at least I am making the most of opportunities that come my way. I will continue to manifest opportunities to come my way.

Of course, it could all have been a big coincidence but then again, who am I to go against Universal Intelligence/God/Universe?

Final Thoughts

Reading You are a Badass at Making Money has helped me to debunk my limiting beliefs about money and rewrite new truths.

I am learning how to change my mindset – to be aware of my thoughts and the words I use to frame new beliefs which then generate excitement and desire to fuel my actions.

Despite the woowoo-ness of manifesting my desire to make money, I will continue onwards to see if it leads me all the way to Antarctica and eventually, financial independence 🙂

It is a work in progress.

I am a work in progress.

What are your money limiting beliefs? How will you change your mindset?

Atomic Habits by James Clear – a book review

Please note that this post contains affiliate links

I am stuck.

In bad habits land.

I used to think I am lazy, unmotivated and lack self control. I feel easily overwhelmed so I delay starting a task or project. Then I am unproductive, or get bored and just give up.

That is, until I read Atomic Habits by James Clear.

There is HOPE! 

I first heard about this book from listening to Paula Pant’s Afford Anything podcast – episode 156 How to Build Incredible Habits with James Clear.  I was very impressed and thought this was exactly what I needed to do. But did I do anything about it? NOPE. 

I am embarrassed to say I finally read the book nearly a year after listening to the podcast. That is procrastination at its finest!

What I like about Atomic Habits

“An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones” claims the front cover. 

It is a bold claim. But accurate. I find it incredibly helpful to write down a list of your good and bad habits at the start plus any new habits you want to create. My bad habits list is considerably longer! 

I can attest that it is super easy to read and packed to the rafters with actionable tips and practical examples. After each chapter, the handy summary reinforces what you’ve just read. 

It is logical and at the end of the book, you totally understand how habits are formed. But better still, it gives you a framework and the steps needed to build those good habits and break the bad ones.

But of course, it is then up to you to put all that into practice in your own life. No amount of reading books or listening to podcasts will make you do something if you don’t already want to do it.

What is a habit?

Clear defines a habit as “a behaviour that has been repeated enough times to become automatic.” 

Your brain is constantly analysing situations and responding to them. It learns from how you respond to a situation in the past and predicts how you will respond to the same situation in the future. And when you do it enough times, it becomes automatic and your conscious mind no longer have to think about it – the response has passed to the unconscious mind.

For example, I walk into the house at night from a stressful day at work, heat up my dinner, sit in front of the television and play Candy Crush. I tell myself I need to unwind from a hard day’s work, that my brain needs a break. I do this every night and soon enough, it is an automatic response. 

How automatic? I catch myself doing the same thing even though my work now is a lot less stressful. My brain still think that whenever I enter the house after work, I should turn on the TV and play Candy Crush at the same time.

So why do habits matter?

Habits matter because they are the “compound interest of self improvement.” I understand the power of compound interest in the arena of money so this makes complete sense to me. You do a little bit each day and the benefits stack up on top of each other over time.

‘Success is the product of daily habits – not once in a lifetime transformations.” I understand this too – you don’t build up your emergency fund in one day (unless of course, you already have lots of cash just sitting in a bank account). 

For most people, it takes saving a small amount consistently over months or years to build up an amount sufficient to cover three to six months of expenses.

I also like the ‘forget about goals, focus on systems instead’ exhortation. If your goal is to achieve financial independence within 10 to 20 years, you may be discouraged by the slow process. So focus instead on the steps or look at it another way, build good habits to get you there. 

For example, pay yourself first from each pay cheque by automating weekly transfers to a retirement account or a savings account. Reduce your debt. Track your expenses. And so on. These steps will eventually take you to your end goal of financial independence.

The science of a habit

According to Clear, there are four stages of a habit – cue, craving, response and reward. That is, the cue triggers a craving which motivates a response which then provides a reward. In an endless feedback loop – the Habit Loop.

So using my example above, being stressed after work is the cue; this triggers a craving to alleviate stress; which in turn motivates me to watch TV and play Candy Crush (response); which then provides me the reward of unwinding after a long day. Because this reward satisfies me (in the short term), I will repeat it all over again the next night when faced with the same cue.

But in fact, I don’t really want to watch TV or play Candy Crush – what I really want is to unwind after a stressful day. My habit is a solution to my problem. Watching TV or playing Candy Crush is not inherently bad of itself, or say, if I limit it to half an hour. 

Unfortunately for me, I then fall asleep on the couch, wake up from my nap hours later and then finally go to bed in the early hours of the morning. All this interrupted sleep means I struggle to wake up in the morning. 

It is amazing once I break down a habit into these four stages, it is quite clear what I have to do.

The four laws of behaviour change

In Atomic Habits  Clear sets out a framework to help us further – his laws of behaviour change tackle each of the four stages of a habit.

First law – Make it obvious

Second law – Make it attractive

Third law – Make it easy

Fourth law – Make it satisfying

Simply apply these laws to create a good habit and do the inverse to break a bad habit.


First law - Make it obvious

The first law is about the cue. If you want to create a good habit, the cue needs to be obvious. If you want to break a bad habit, make the cue invisible.

Instead of relying on motivation and self control, we can design our environment to make the cue visible or invisible, to give us a head start to creating or breaking a habit. Combine this with “implementation intention” to be even more effective. Have a concrete ‘how’ – I will do it at this time at that location.

My doctor wants me to take a Vitamin D supplement daily. It has been suggested before as my levels are quite low. Many years ago when I tried taking it daily, I lasted a week, at best. The next time I looked at the bottle, it was past its expiry date.

This time round, I know about making the cue obvious and visible. I put the Vitamin D bottle next to my drinking water on the kitchen bench. Not hidden away in the cupboard. I tell myself I will take one capsule every morning in my kitchen, with my first drink of water after waking up.

I already drink water upon waking up – a current habit. Linking a new habit to a current habit is termed ‘habit stacking’.

And it works! I am amazed that I have not missed a single day. It’s nearly 60 days and counting.

Second law - Make it attractive

It is hard to do something when it is not attractive. Or goes against the norm. 

Clear suggests pairing an action that you want to do with an action you need to do – temptation bundling. 

For example, I want to declutter my pantry – an overwhelming task which does not bring me joy. I also need to eat dinner. So I tell myself that I can’t eat dinner unless I start on the pantry. Initially, I do it in the two & a half minutes while I heat up my dinner. Then I just want to get the job done so I do a good half hour before I heat up my food. 

The pantry is done, yay! So now I use the half hour before I heat up my food to tackle another chore. My real aim is to have as much free time as possible to do enjoyable things on the weekends instead of doing chores. So the more I can get done at night after work, the more free time I will have on the weekends. 

Of course, not every night is productive. There are nights when I revert to watching TV and playing Candy Crush. But 3 or 4 out of 5 nights is a huge achievement for me. I surprise myself that I can clear my ironing backlog, file paperwork, clear the fridge and freezer and so on.

Another way is to join a community where the behaviour you want is the norm. For example, this nightly chore routine started with my friend and I being accountable to each other. We tell each other what we hope to achieve that night and then confirm the next day whether we did the chore or not. We encourage and support each other, especially when we are tired after a trying day at work and the last thing we want to do is tackle a chore that night. 


Third law - Make it easy

When we reduce the friction required for the new habit, it is much easier to stick with it. I struggle with procrastination, and just starting something takes a long time. Clear has a solution – the two minute rule – “when you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.”

I have long desired a morning routine but am always defeated because my night routine is so bad. Reminder – the watching TV and playing Candy Crush leads to me sleeping on my couch which then interrupts my sleep when I wake up to go to my bed.

So I decide to make my mornings easier by prepping my breakfast the night before. I only focus on this one aspect rather than establishing a whole night routine. Baby steps. 

I wash my stovetop coffee pot and fill it with ground coffee. I sit the pot on the stove, ready to just turn on the gas in the morning. Next is my breakfast – add milk, fruit, spice etc to oats and leave in fridge. All I have to do the next morning is heat it up in the microwave, add honey and voila, breakfast is served in less than 2 minutes.

The above getting ready for breakfast “chore” takes 2 minutes, immediately after washing up dinner dishes and before I make a cuppa and settle down on the couch. So far so good. I love that my mornings are made easier and because it is so easy to prepare oats and coffee the night before, I continue doing so.


Fourth law - Make it satisfying

Instead of focusing on the outcome of a habit, we focus on the ‘feel good’ instant reward an action brings. Exercising to lose weight is great but you will not lose weight after a day or a week – it takes months and years. It is better to focus on ‘feeling good’ after each exercise session. 

Incidentally, this is why I don’t like to exercise. I never feel good after exercising ie I never get the instant reward. I am exhausted, my muscles ache … others look at this as a good thing. Me? Meh. So I am loathed to do it again.  

This is where habit tracking is powerful. I walk with my friend after work every weeknight for 30 to 40 minutes. At first, I rejoice when there is a downpour and we are unable to walk. But then, after about 2 weeks of walking every single day, we do not want to break our record. So now I pray that the rain stops by the time we are ready for our walk.

And never miss twice – that is another lesson I learned from Atomic Habits.  If we do miss a night due to rain or a late meeting, we make sure we definitely walk the following night. 


Final thoughts

At one stage, I was obsessed with looking for productivity gains – how can I optimise this and that in my limited time.

But as I apply what I have learned from Atomic Habits  the productivity gains happen naturally. I build one habit at a time and as they add up and become automatic, I have more time to devote to another task or project.

In the bonus material, Clear writes about the timing of starting a new habit. Look at your energy and time commitments, then choose a suitable time to start your habit.

I must declare here in total transparency that I do have more time and energy now since I transitioned to a less stressful role and work less hours. More time and energy to look at my daily routines and think about my habits.

But I still believe that everyone can benefit from using the principles laid down in Atomic Habits. It is empowering to know that I can build good habits despite being lazy and unmotivated at times. I just need to focus on systems instead of the end goal.

Oh, and I eat my dinner sitting at the dining table now instead of the couch. I turn off the TV once the programs I specifically want to watch have ended. And no longer play Candy Crush mindlessly. I read a physical book in bed (no screen time) to help me sleep. Slowly but surely, I am creating a good night routine.  

I highly recommend Atomic Habits – I am positive that it will help you as it has helped me.

Do you struggle with forming good habits? Or trying to break bad ones? What are your methods? I'd love to know! Please drop your comments below

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