7 Toxic Money Thoughts to Banish Today

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Five years ago, a running buddy and I were rounding Central Park’s loop when I blurted out, in utter defeat, “I’ll never pay off my debt.”

I thought nothing of striding six miles, but couldn’t imagine ever triumphing over my grad school loans and maxed-out credit cards. I felt overwhelmed and hopelessly tamped down by mounting expenses.

“You can, and you will,” said my friend. “Stop thinking of this as a mountain to climb. Start chipping away, little by little.”

That day, buoyed by her words, I bought a little notebook that changed my life. In it, I scribbled down all the scary numbers and faced the hard facts. It gave me exactly what I needed—a starting point.

When I received a letter in the mail two years later, confirming that I’d paid off a $26,000 loan, pride washed over me. What’s more, I had deleted all $12,000 of plastics debt and even plunked $10,000 into a mutual fund. What had kept me from doing it earlier? It wasn’t the debt itself—it was my misguided thoughts about money.

“Our words are our world,” says Noah St. John, professional development expert and author of “The Book of Afformations.” ”It cannot be overstated how much what we think and say affects us.”

I slowly replaced my paralyzing refrains with productive thoughts, and so can you. To figure out the best way to rescript your brain for positive, actionable thinking, we asked St. John, along with two other experts, to highlight seven toxic money thoughts you should replace today.

1. ‘I’ll never be rich.’

Why It’s Destructive: ”I’ve heard this belief countless times,” says St. John. This kind of thinking is harmful, he explains, because your beliefs guide your actions and, as such, become true. Say it and believe it and you will be forever saddled with debt. You won’t be disciplined enough to manage your finances and get ahead. Ultimately you’ll feel—and stay—stuck. “It’s straight-up self-sabotage,” he says pointedly.

What to Say Instead: “I’m reliable and hard-working, and I will be rewarded with prosperity.”

Why It Works: The point is, you can only be as wealthy as you believe you can be, and there’s no reason, if you work hard, that you won’t get there.

But, adds St. John, you also need to decide what “rich” means to you. Does it mean having an emergency fund big enough to cover a potential disaster? Does it mean saving enough for retirement that you won’t have to worry? By putting good habits in place now, you’ll set yourself up to build wealth, and keep it.

RELATED: Confessions of a Trust Fund Baby

And if you don’t believe you can be rich, simply having more cash won’t change that. “Money acts like a magnifying glass,” says St. John. “Having money doesn’t change anything—it reveals everything.” By believing you’re worthy of wealth, you’re off to the right start.

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  • Lara

    I like this article a lot and can relate to some of these points, I was always told that if you respect money it will respect you back – and this is a good example of how to structure your mentality to be positive about your financial outlook. What I would like to see is a similar article about how to actually work towards respecting your money? I feel like I have gotten better over the years, but i still do have a casual relationship with money. It comes and goes. How do I make it more of a main-stay? As I mature, I realize the importance of long-standing relationships and want to establish one with my finances.

  • magicmary

    Thought provoking, excellent points!

  • Rhana Pytell

    Great article. Attitude, belief and self-talk are huge influences on our reality. Well Done!

  • Lyn

    ” Research has shown that, beyond a salary of $75,000, money simply doesn’t buy more happiness.”

    …Most people don’t make $75,000 a year, and really would be happier with more money because it removes a lot of financial worry. I agree that it’s good to have a positive attitude, but when it’s really a struggle to make rent and feed yourself (which it is for a lot of people), let alone deal with unexpected medical bills and the like, it’s not so easy to think positively.

    • bob1233

      The Great Community Organizer will provide. Keep voting Democrat and your problems will all be solved by a check in the mail — made out to YOU! Money for nothing, and the chicks are free.

  • bob1233

    We need to spread the wealth around. If you worked hard to put away more money than your neighbor who quit his job because it was too hard and he wanted to go fishing instead, then you should give him a share of your money so that you’re both on the same level. Spread the wealth around. No fair if you have more. At least that’s what our C minus graduate of Punahou and Harvard tells us.