You’ve likely heard it said that successful money management is 80 percent head knowledge and 20 percent behavior. While this is true, there are certain aspects of that head knowledge that absolutely have the ability to destroy any chance you have of becoming financially independent. One of those dangerous aspects is that of the “lack mindset”.

In its simplest terms, the lack mindset is a deeply ingrained belief that your access to money, to wealth and to the stuff that it buys is limited. People with a lack mindset have often struggled with some type of fear of scarcity for as long as they can remember.

This fear may have come from a parent’s behavior or attitude about money, or it may have come from real-life circumstances in where a lack of money caused a negative outcome.

A Lack Mindset and its Damage

Personally, I suffered from a lack mindset for decades. The root of my fears? Poverty in childhood. Although a lack of money had always been an issue for my parents, their financial situation took a dramatic turn for the worse after they divorced when I was 11.

I remember vividly the days with no food in the cupboard and no electricity or heat in the house. Because of those circumstances, I developed an intense fear of not being able to buy what I needed.

That fear morphed into a crazy cycle of spending beyond my means. Whenever any little type of fear would kick in, my mind would go into “survival” mode from my childhood days. I’d then go out and spend – on whatever I thought I needed or wanted – to help quell the fear that I wouldn’t have enough or wouldn’t be taken care of.

Marriage only made it worse as my husband had his own fears of money from similar childhood experiences. Although they never suffered from empty cupboards or no electricity, there were very real lack messages being given in the house. As a result, his way of dealing with his own lack mindset was to force me to take control of the money. For years he refused to have anything at all to do with our family’s money management.

And that was okay with me, because his lack mindset produced a different kind of result in him. Whereas in me it produced a spending mindset, in him it produced a hoarding mindset. He hoarded money as a young adult to a seriously unhealthy extent.

If he would have managed our money at that time, we’d likely have no debt, but we’d be living in a van down by the river as well.

Luckily, we learned to diagnose our issues with a lack mindset, and are now working to overcome them.  In today’s post, I’ll share with you what the symptoms of a lack mindset are, and how you can overcome them if this is something you struggle with.

Symptom #1: A Fear of Not Having Enough

The funny thing about a fear of not having enough is that it can cause a person with a lack mindset to either accumulate a large amount of material items, or to avoid purchasing even the most basic of material items in favor of hoarding money.

While one might seem better than the other, neither one of these reactions to a lack mindset is healthy. The solution to that fear? Learning to understand that there is abundance all around. That abundance may not be in your house right now, but it does exist.There is proof in this abundance by scanning the full shelves at the grocery aisle or the likely large amount of “stuff” you have in your house but never use.

Once you stop letting that fear of not having enough take over, you can learn to take comfort in the fact that, in most places, “stuff” is readily available for the buying.

Symptom #2: A Belief That You Cannot Control Your Money

I would say that the belief that one cannot control how their money is managed is likely the most dangerous asset of the lack mindset. The bills come in, you pay them and you wait for the next paycheck. In the lack mindset there’s often no budget set up or no financial goals planned.

Instead, life leads a person with a lack mindset around by the nose and they simply put up with the circumstances.

The solution? Start managing your money. Work (together with your spouse if you’re married) to create a monthly budget and to determine what your financial goals are. Then make weekly, monthly and annual plans for your money that will help you to reach the goals that you have set.

Also, surround yourself with people who have similar goals of becoming debt free and building wealth. Even if you can only find those people online through the world of personal finance blogs, that group of like-minded people will help encourage you to stay on track with your financial goals.

Symptom #3: A Belief That Their Income is Limited

Another way to say this is that a person suffering from a lack mindset often also suffers from short-term, small picture thinking.

They believe that they are stuck in the job that they have, with no ability to find a better job or to find more ways to make money.

This is simply not true. One look at an employment site will show you that there are many jobs to be had for those who are willing to take a step out and make a change. Or you could even find easy ways to make more money in your spare time at home, like taking surveys with Survey Junkie. It won’t make you rich, but it can help add a little extra to your monthly budget.

Side hustles are also alive, well and readily available for those willing to put in the time to find them. Likely the very best thing that my side hustling has done for me (I made nearly 14k last year via freelance writing) is that it has shown me that my income-producing abilities are not finite. There’s always more money to be earned for those willing to go out and find the work.

Symptom #4: A Lack of Self-Esteem

I would say that a lack of understanding of our value as persons was likely the largest part of my husband’s and my struggle with a lack mentality. Because we didn’t value ourselves as individuals, we continually accepted the bad choices we made with money. Subconsciously, we didn’t believe we deserved to be financially stable.

Overcoming this type of issue obviously takes some work. For us, learning our value through the eyes of God was paramount in overcoming our low self-esteem issues.

Also, using positive affirmations regarding our personal values and regarding our money choices was of great benefit. When faced with a spending decision that wasn’t in line with our financial goals – a decision that we likely were making to put a bandage on a bigger issue – we would tell ourselves “No: we deserve financial stability.”

As my husband and I have worked these past three years at learning to define the reasons behind our poor money management, and have worked to overcome these issues, we’ve also learned to overcome the lack mindset.

The efforts we’ve put in toward diagnosis and repair of the incorrect views we’ve had about ourselves and our money have given us the tools we needed to put a plan in place to become debt free. And the plan is working. Every month we put more and more of our income towards debt, whittling away at those consumer debt balances and increasing our net worth.

It’s still a work in progress, but isn’t that the case with life in general?

If you’re suffering from a lack mindset, I encourage you to work to take some time to diagnose where the fear of scarcity came from, and to do what needs to be done to start the road to recovery. By making a plan for your money, utilizing positive affirmations and surrounding yourself with people that have like-minded goals, you can indeed create a secure financial life for yourself.

Have you or anyone you know ever suffered with a lack mindset? How did that mindset affect money-managing decisions?

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