4 Self-Defeating Money Attitudes You Might Need to Change for 2022
Do you have a few fall-back phrases you say to yourself? "I'll never be rich" or "Investing is too hard," for example? Let's wipe these away before 2022.
Do you dread putting together your New Year's Resolutions each year?
Why not change your thinking? Instead of saying, "I'll save X amount for retirement in the new year" or "I'll budget an extra $200 every week," why not first vow to change your money attitudes? It can positively affect your outcomes.
Martin Seligman, one of the world's leading psychology researchers, says that positive psychology can help people live more meaningful lives, correct negative behaviors and increase productivity. It can also increase happiness.
Now, does that mean that if you just think happy thoughts, your retirement bucket will fill to the brim? Of course not — you still have to invest well to meet your retirement goals. However, first you need to get rid of all self-defeating money attitudes. Let's take a look at a few.
Attitude 1: "I'll never earn enough to retire well."
This is one of the most dangerous self-defeating money attitudes and can affect the trajectory of your life. It can also affect how well you set yourself up for retirement. These kinds of thoughts will linger every time you get paid, every time you think about investing, every time you think about how you'll retire. You probably won't save enough over the long term if you think you'll never get ahead in the first place.
You don't need to earn a lot of money to invest. One of the most pervasive (and poisonous) ideas is that only rich people can invest. Even if you only have a few dollars to invest per week, your money will grow with compound interest.
Attitude 2: "Everyone takes out loans. I might as well, too."
If you think the American way is to "buy now, pay later," you're right. The idea is as old as America itself. Credit was a form of payment in colonial America. If colonists didn't have the cash, they could add it to their tab at the local mercantile.
Not paying off high-interest debt in full can ruin your credit, wreck your future income, cause you to pay way more than the original item you purchased and keep you from reaching your financial goals.
Americans have an average of $90,460 of consumer debt, from credit cards to mortgages to student loan debt. Americans also have $756 billion in outstanding credit card debt and about 95% of adults have a credit card account open in their name, according to Experian.
It's easy to say, "Never get into debt in the first place," but debt has a way of creeping up on you — you may even keep spending even when you can't afford to make your payments.
It's also important to recognize the signs that you need help. Another dangerous assumption is that you can get out of debt on your own, when you actually might not be able to. If you've budgeted, cut out all the "extras" (like gym memberships), stopped taking on new debt and you're still getting sucked down, it's time to get help. Contact your creditors to work out a payment plan. You can also contact a nonprofit agency that provides debt relief solutions.
Attitude 3: "My kids will never be out from under me."
Are you sacrificing your retirement nest egg to pay your kids’ college costs? If so, your kids need to figure out how to pay for their own degree. Never borrow from your retirement fund or guarantee student loans to educate your kids. In addition, let your kids pay their own way — that includes rent, car insurance and yes, free food and rent at home (sorry, boomerang kids).
If you need the retirement money, don't be afraid to charge your kids for the convenience of living at home. You'll thank yourself for padding your retirement savings later.
Attitude 4: "I'll never change my spending habits."
You're right — you probably won't. (If that's your mantra, anyway.)
If you know you're digging yourself into a hole with your spending habits, consider doing the following:
- Understand what causes you to spend money. Is it peer pressure? Your environment? Your addiction to "deals and steals" at a certain store? Examining the underlying reasons why you overspend can help you avoid those triggers.
- Track your spending and create a budget. Knowing where your money actually goes can go a long way to help you create and stick to a budget. Don't forget to add a few allowances for fun into your budget, just so you don't feel too deprived. Watch for those seemingly small purchases — they really add up! When you engage in reckless spending habits, you let your money control you — not the other way around. Every dollar you have needs to go somewhere, whether it's into a retirement fund, toward paying more than the minimum on your credit cards or toward bills. Your budget can put you back in control of your money.
- Get rid of your credit cards. Cut them up if you can't control your credit card spending. Not paying your balance in full every month means that a portion of each payment goes toward your interest payments, which increases the amount of time it takes to pay off your balance.
Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life
Can you think of one instance where you changed your attitude and great things happened? Think of something simple, like the pizza challenge you took at the local pizza place. Your best friend challenged you to eat a full Chicago-style pizza in one sitting — and you believed you could do it, so you did? It's a silly example, but it's a great example of the power of changing your attitude.
Can you think of other self-defeating money attitudes you've had this year or in previous years? Identifying them can put you ahead of the game and change your life. It can mean everything as we move into 2022.
One last thing: One of the most important things you can do is set up a retirement account in your employer's 401(k) plan and invest up to the employer's match. The momentum of compound interest just might keep you going and propel you to invest and save more. It's exciting to watch your money grow.