I don’t know about you, but when it comes to managing my finances, I can often come up with a whole list of things I’d much rather do … including cleaning out the fridge.
But, as someone who’s studied positive psychology, I know that the first step in reaching new heights is setting a goal, and the hard part is sticking with your intention long enough to reach it.
With that in mind, I wanted to share four proven strategies to keep you on the path to wherever you’re headed with your money. Consider these pointers on the psychology of money management.
1. Identify Your Motivation
What is it you really, really want? To answer this honestly, it helps to know where your motivation comes from, explain Richard Ryan and Edward Deci, psychology professors at the University of Rochester. There are two types of motivation that govern human behavior: intrinsic motivation, which means being driven from within or doing something because we find it personally enjoyable; and extrinsic motivation, which involves being driven by something outside of ourselves or an external reward (example: studying to get a good grade, not for the sake of learning).
So when it comes to managing your finances, the idea is not to think of it as a chore. Because if your motivation is extrinsic—saving for the sake of saving—then managing your money may always feel like a drag. But when you’re intrinsically motivated, you’re personally (pardon the pun) invested.
Start viewing money as a means to achieving your best life. Visualize what you’re saving up for—whether it’s the down payment on a house or an exotic vacation hiking in the rainforest (or both). Maybe even tack a picture of your goals on your bulletin board at work or papier-mâché them on your piggy bank. Not only will you be working toward becoming more in control of your finances, you may feel more in control of your destiny.
2. Adjust Your Mindset
Henry Ford said it best: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
Translation: When it comes to staying motivated, mindset is everything.
In her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” author and Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck describes the two types of mindsets: People with a “fixed mindset” usually believe that their intelligence, talents and other essential characteristics are unchangeable and pretty much as good as they’re going to get.
Meanwhile, those with a “growth mindset” tend to believe that their talents and abilities can be continually developed through sheer tenacity and hard work. They don’t view setbacks as doom and gloom but as learning opportunities. They’re less likely to lapse into limiting beliefs about their abilities or ever see themselves as failures—unlike those with a fixed mindset, who can constantly feel inadequate.