How do you feel when you think about your money?
Confident, secure, and happy? Or anxious, insecure, and worried?
I’m guessing the latter because a staggering 77% of Americans feel anxious about their financial situations. For something that affects every single aspect of our lives, we sure do have some serious issues with it. But what if it didn’t have to be this way?
I mean, even I have negative feelings about my money sometimes, and I’m a finance expert. On paper, I should be super confident about money. I have a Bachelor of Science in Finance, an MBA, and a fascination for money and economics that has enabled me to sit through pretty much every documentary on money ever made. Some more than once. But what my financial resume doesn’t tell you is that I’ve spent the last 12 years fascinated by money because of my fucked up views about it.
A few years ago, I recognized that I was obsessed with learning about money because I was absolutely terrified that I’d be plagued by struggles with it. Coming to this realization wasn’t a light bulb moment for me. I didn’t have some great epiphany in a therapy session or anything. It was a gradual awareness I came to when I began fully supporting myself after college. I had started my first “real” job, was being paid a salary, and could finally grasp the gravity of the financial struggles my parents had gone through during my childhood. I had come to the realization that I was obsessed with money because I would do whatever it took to avoid those same struggles in my adult life.
Three personal development books, in particular, helped me completely shift my mindset on money. The principles they teach built my confidence so I could double my net worth in under two years and get on track to becoming a millionaire by 40. But it was a long road to get there.
The Origin of My Limiting Beliefs
Just to clear the air, I’m not including this section to host my own pity party. I decided to tell you the fucked up money stories of my childhood to help others overcome their anxiety about money. No matter what you’ve faced in the past you can change your future. We all have strong feelings about our money, and these usually stem from our childhood, so I’m telling you about mine. If you DGAF about my life, skip to the numbered headings to read about the books I recommend. If you want to learn about the catalyst for my mindset transformation, here goes.
I was born in Kentucky, and my parents moved to Los Angeles, California when I was 1. The first 6ish years we lived there were pretty stable. The next 4 were a rollercoaster. We moved into 3 different houses, lived with a relative twice, and lived in a hotel. I distinctly remember my friends and I playing on a dusty hill behind the hotel parking lot because there was nowhere else for us to play.
While we were fortunate enough to never have to sleep on the street or in a homeless shelter, we were existing in a category called hidden homelessness. This is when you don’t have a home but aren’t counted in the homeless statistics because you stay on the couches of friends and family or in unstable dwellings like hotels. After several years of living as a hidden homeless family, we moved back to Kentucky.
When we got to Kentucky, we again lived with a relative until we could afford our own place. After that, we moved into our own apartment and finally into our own house, where we lived until I graduated high school.
The really wild part about my childhood struggles is that while all of the chaos was happening, we pretended as though none of it was going on. The relatives we stayed with in LA lived in a house that was probably worth over a million dollars. I attended catered parties at family friend’s multi-million dollar houses that overlooked the ocean. And when we moved to Kentucky, we lived in an affluent neighborhood, where I went to school with the children of NFL players. It was a total mind fuck.
So when I graduated high school, went off to college, and figured out that I could study how to make money, I was hooked. At the time, I was only 19 and hadn’t connected the dots about why I was so intrigued by money, but my personal money issues surfaced later when I started saving and investing on my own.
I became obsessed with saving every penny I could and felt guilty buying anything that wasn’t “necessary”. This is what’s called a scarcity mindset. When you think there are limited resources, in this case, money, so you need to do everything you can to avoid losing the money you have.
After telling you about my childhood, it’s no wonder I had this mindset. The problem with this thinking is that you can only save so much money. You can cancel all of your subscriptions, live in a shoebox, and only buy things on sale so you can save every penny possible, but do you know what that causes? Stress and anxiety. Not happiness. Not security. Just misery.
I’m sure a lot of you can relate to this. I see finance “advice” that perpetuates this guilt around money EVERYWHERE. No spend days. Shows on extreme couponing. Black Friday frenzies. Stop buying lattes. Pay off all of your debt before investing. This is all terrible advice that perpetuates the guilt and burden of a scarcity mindset.
You know who doesn’t think this way? Wealthy people. They have an abundance mindset. They think that there is a lot of money out in the world, and they need to find ways to bring more of it to themselves. That is the mindset I actively work to have and now preach. To cultivate this mindset, I was guided by the principles in following three personal development books, and it absolutely changed my life. These three books allowed me to double my net worth in under 2 years, got me on track to become a millionaire by 40, and I was able to do all of that without sacrificing the things that I love. If you want to start feeling confident about money, stop feeling miserable when you spend money on things you enjoy, and start earning more money, these three personal development books will help you do it!
Step 1 – Get Honest With Yourself About Your Money Goals
The first mindset shift I made was getting honest with myself about my money goals. I want to be able to spend hundreds of dollars in one night on dinner and feel zero guilt. Not worry about spend $10,000 traveling around Europe for 2 weeks. I want vacation homes. I want to be a millionaire! The trouble I used to have was actually admitting this to myself.
Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art helped me overcome this. The book focuses on creative endeavors, but its principles can be applied in all areas of life. It discusses the differences between the life we see in our heads vs the life we live. We often have daydream about what our life would be like if we had a million dollars, a higher salary, or a bigger house. Where we often fail is in trying to realize those dreams that are in our heads. The fear of what we need to do or give up to achieve our goal keeps us from living the life we truly want. The War of Art discusses how to break down the barrier between the life in your head and your real life.
After reading the book, I admitted to myself that I wanted to be rich. I stopped feeling like I shouldn’t be so focused on money as a woman. I realized I wasn’t greedy or unsympathetic because I aspired to get rich even though there are people who are less fortunate than me. Wanting more money no longer made me feel like I wasn’t grateful for what I had.
This belief that if we strive for more it means we’re ungrateful and taking from those less fortunate is bullshit. Money is power and women don’t have enough of it. The more money I make, the more I can help other women make more money too. So stop feeling guilty for wanting to make more money, start admitting how much money you want, and don’t apologize for it.
Step 2 – Find Your Money Making Method
Once I had admitted to myself that I wanted to be rich, I had to figure out how to do it. Quite shockingly, my finance degree didn’t prepare me well to make more money for myself. It mostly taught me how to make money for corporations.
To make up for my knowledge gap, I started reading personal finance books like crazy. The problem was that they all focused on pinching pennies until eventually, you become a millionaire. A quarter of the way through my first few books, I knew I would never stick to what they were telling me to do, so I stopped reading.
Then I found the book, I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi. This book changed my life completely. Ramit’s method tells you to prioritize spending on the things you love and to spend extravagantly on those things. Then cut your expenses down as much as humanly possible in all other areas. This method was something I could get down with!
Once you know what your money goals are, step two is to find someone with a method that will help you get there. Ramit’s book, I Will Teach You to be Rich was my method. I knew that what worked for him would also work for me. Finding a plan that I could stick with to achieve my goals was a complete game-changer.
While I hope Ramit’s method will resonate with you too, the reality is that it might not. Maybe real estate investing is more your thing than stock market investing. That’s cool too. To find the method that works best for you, read books, listen to podcasts, follow blogs and money influencers on Instagram and YouTube, whatever you have to do. When you’re going through their material it should inspire you to take action. If instead, you’re thinking ‘that’ll never work’, or ‘how dumb is that’, then their method is not your method. Achieving your money goals is a lot like achieving your fitness goals. You’ll never get your dream body by trying to stick to a plan you hate because you’ll end up quitting. The same goes for your finances.
Step 3 – Motion vs Action
Once you find your method for reaching your goals, you’re going to feel inspired! You will finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll probably start consuming more material on the subjects you’re interested in, and feel like you’re becoming an expert on the subject. You’ll think you’re finally beginning to achieve your goal.
Only you’re not. Being a money expert doesn’t make you rich. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is just the first part of your journey. Now you actually have to make the climb to get to the light.
I learned about this dichotomy of feeling like you’re achieving something but not actually achieving anything in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. He calls this concept motion vs action. This concept is what motivated me to start taking action on all of the lessons I learned in Ramit’s book.
Becoming more knowledgeable about personal finance and the things you can do to change your situation is going to make you feel empowered and like you’re one step away from achieving financial freedom. But this could not be further from the truth. To actually achieve your dream life, you’re going to need to implement the principles you’re learning consistently and probably for a very long time.
It can be disheartening to learn that you won’t achieve your goal for 10, 20, or 30 years. But you can give up and never get rich, or you can start taking baby steps toward achieving your goal so one day you will actually be rich. Atomic Habits will get you psyched about taking these tiny baby steps and will paint a picture for you about how those minuscule changes will lead to astronomical results.
These three personal development books absolutely changed my outlook on life and what is possible for me. They gave me the confidence, a method, and the drive to start working toward achieving my money goals. After implementing the principles I learned in these books, I doubled my net worth in less than 2 years, will become a millionaire by 40, and I’m able to do all of this without sacrificing the things I love. No matter what your current limiting beliefs are or where they came from, these books can help you make dramatic shifts in your life and put you in the fast lane on the path to becoming a rich bitch.
To get my FREE 3 Step Guide to Mastering Your Finances click here.
*Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through some links in this post.