As a financial planner, I work primarily with early and mid-career professionals. So, as you can imagine, I field many questions from my clients. But, believe it or not, there are two repeat questions I receive that tell me everything I need to know about a person’s mindset.
Scarcity versus Abundance
The two revealing questions are as follows:
- How do I compare to other people my age?
- Am I on track to meet my goals?
People who ask the first question typically have a scarcity mindset, while those who ask the second question come from an abundance mindset.
As it relates to finances, a scarcity mindset is one where the person believes they can run out of money or never have enough money. Someone with a scarcity mindset is envious of others, guilty about financial decisions, and tends to hoard money.
An abundance mindset is when the person believes their goals are achievable. Someone with an abundant mindset is confident in making money decisions, adjusts to changes in their financial plan, and celebrates the success of others.
Having a scarcity mindset is okay; it’s the default for many people. However, mindsets do not have to be permanent. With practice, you can adjust your mindset to operate from a place of optimism and fulfill your financial goals.
Comparison is the “Thief of Joy”
I can’t answer my clients when they ask how they compare to their peers. Everyone has different needs, goals, living standards, risk tolerance, and accumulation strategies. The funny thing about comparing is that it’s usually based on what you can see.
When it comes to finances, there is more than meets the eye. For example, driving a nice car is different than owning or affording a nice car. You can see the car, but you can’t see the excessive monthly payment that diminishes the owner’s ability to save for retirement. To use another example, you see the vacations, but you can’t see the mountain of credit card debt piling up or the missed calls from collections.
Important Note #1: What you see only tells one side of the story, so don’t let what other people do influence how you feel about your progress.
When you find yourself comparing your life to others, shift your thoughts inward and take stock of your accomplishments. Give credit where credit is due! Appreciate what you have and the trials and tribulations it took to get there.
In addition to comparing, another common pitfall among people with scarcity mindsets is constantly moving the goal posts. Those who love money will never have enough. Instead of focusing on “more,” focus on “enough.”
Important Note #2: Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it is possible to feel happy with your money. Choose gratitude.
First Steps toward Financial Confidence
One easy way to kick-start your financial confidence is by setting goals. Without a goal, there is nothing to measure. There is no success, no failure, and no clear path forward.
One of the benefits of goal creation is that it causes you to assess your starting point, identify areas of improvement, and quantify success. While evaluating your current financial position may cause some initial pain, remember that an abundant mindset is excited about change and growth.
Once you’re clear on what you want, it’s time to start moving in the right direction. Build momentum early, which will also build confidence at a vital stage in the process. Reach for low-hanging fruit, such as setting up automatic transfers, paying off a small debt all at once, or signing paperwork to open an investment account. A few quick wins can provide the motivation and courage to tackle bigger goals.
My job revolves around answering the second question for my clients. Working with a financial planner should make you feel confident about your future. Whether you’re on track to meet your goals or you have big changes to make, having clarity and a plan to follow will inspire confidence.
If you catch yourself green with envy over someone else’s apparent financial status, take a step back and take stock of your successes. Feel joy for yourself and joy for others. Focus your energy inward, work with a financial planner to gain confidence, and live abundantly!
Kate Arndt, CFP, is a Financial Planner with Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc., a wealth management firm located in Indianapolis. For more information, visit their website at www.bedelfinancial.com or email Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org.