'The 5 biggest mistakes I see people make with their money as a finance coach.'

An old saying goes "Money is a tool to get you where you want to go, but it will not replace you as the driver." And yet so often we give the power and the blame to money, completely forgetting that we are in fact the ones in charge. Money (or more specifically the lack of money) becomes the thing standing between us and a happier, more fulfilling lifestyle. The problem with thinking this way is that it makes us feel powerless and stops us from taking positive action.

Watch: The money hacks that don't cut out your daily cup of coffee. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

So, if you are ready to regain control of the wheel and steer yourself towards the lifestyle you desire, I want to share with you some common money mistakes that I see clients make and how you can avoid them.

Lacking clear goals.

Goal setting is one of those things that is deceptively simple, so much so that we often don't bother with it. When I ask clients what their dream life would look like and what would be different, I typically get vague statements like "I would travel more", "I would work less", and "I would be happier". While this can be a great starting point, unless you take the time to break these statements down into specific targets with a dollar figure and timeframe attached to them, you will find it impossible to achieve them.

If you find it difficult to name what you want, know that you are not alone. Most people actually struggle with setting meaningful goals because usually at this point our mind starts coming up with all the objections – the reasons why there's no point in setting these goals in the first place. Which brings me to my next point...


Believing your fears.

The biggest reason most people don't pursue their goals has very little to do with circumstances and a lot to do with our mindset. Whether it is a fear of failure or a fear of letting others down, we let these fears become the reasons why we remain stuck where we are. A useful exercise is to lean into these fears and write all the objections down. Next, test their validity (or what I like to call, doing a sanity check). 

What you will often find is that your mind has a capacity to deeply exaggerate worst-case scenarios, so by writing your fears down, it becomes easier to disarm them. Having done away with the unlikely outcomes (e.g. if I fail everyone will laugh at me), you will then be left with a list of legitimate fears (for example, if I stop working to start my dream business I won't have money to pay the bills). Now it is time to brainstorm solutions to these challenges – for example, if starting your own business is a dream, then planning to build up some savings or scaling back your hours rather than quitting your job altogether, could be potential solutions to help you get there.

Thinking you are bad with money.

Whether you tell yourself you make bad decisions, lack discipline or just find money matters too complicated, it is important to shift this narrative if you want to truly succeed. Because our thoughts influence our actions, they have a way of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. Our mind likes to reinforce our beliefs (this is known as confirmation bias) and will look for evidence to support this view of the world. Instead, practice turning these negative beliefs into positive ones and then reinforce them by journalling

Some effective journalling prompts are:

  • List the challenges you have overcome in the past.
  • Write down all the good decisions you made or times when you trusted your gut.
  • Brainstorm a list of available resources that can support you.
  • If someone you admire made those same mistakes, what would you say to them?
  • What skills and abilities do you possess that can help you to succeed? 
  • What lessons have you learned from past experiences that will help you in the future?

Focusing on things outside of your control.

Many people suffer from financial anxiety, which can prevent them from taking any action. Quite often, our minds focus on things that are outside of our control (what if interest rates rise? What if there is a recession?), which only ends up exacerbating our anxiety and leaving us feeling even more powerless.


Whatever your goals or fears are, it is important to focus your mind back on those things that you can control. For example, while you may not control interest rates, you can do things to help you manage those risks such as taking on a smaller loan, building up more savings, sub-letting a room, etc. The more you focus on action that is within your control, the less anxiety you will experience and the more momentum you will generate towards your goals.

Listen to What The Finance, Mamamia's podcast that is all about getting good with money. Post continues after audio.

Being overly self-critical.

We all have an inner dialogue running through our heads, and very often that dialogue takes the form of negative self-talk. We often think that obsessing over past mistakes and imperfections will help us to do better in the future, however negative self-talk only serves to erode our self-confidence and can in fact prevent us from pursuing our goals. This is why it is important to get in the habit of practising self-compassion and positive self-talk. Practice noticing all the things you have done well, writing down your positive attributes and heck, even looking in the mirror and giving yourself a compliment. If you make a mistake, don't use it as an opportunity to trash yourself, instead focus on taking the lesson from the experience and remind yourself that mistakes are a necessary part of growth. The better you get at silencing that inner critic, the more your confidence will grow and the easier it will be to pursue your goals.

Natasha Janssens in the founder of Women with Cents, you can follow her on Instagram.

Feature Image: Instagram @womenwithcents.

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