Whatever your current financial situation, you can take steps toward a more positive relationship with money. Mark Flanagan, LMSW, MPH, MA, a social worker at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, shares more about how to shift your money mindset.
Please note: “A cancer diagnosis can present a variety of financial challenges, including decreased income and increased medical expenses,” says Flanagan. He recommends contacting your social worker if you have any financial issues caused or exacerbated by a cancer diagnosis.
Your money mindset
Many people’s financial circumstances are fixed, says Flanagan. This could mean you are:
Caring for dependents
On a fixed income or retired
Receiving expensive but necessary medical treatment
Stuck at a job
Unable to work
“However, even given difficult financial circumstances, it is possible to shape your view of that financial situation and money in general,” he says. “Your mindset determines how you will respond to the objective financial realties in life.”
Scarcity vs. abundance: Shifting your perspective
When it comes to finances, many people have a tendency toward either a scarcity mindset or an abundance mindset.
“A hallmark of a scarcity mindset is excessive worry, obsession and fear about material resources,” explains Flanagan. “However, there are very legitimate reasons to have anxiety regarding financial transitions and challenges, in which case you should consult a financial planner or your social worker.”
“What you focus on grows,” he says. “The more you focus on what is going well in your life, the more you will create it.”
Creating an abundance mindset
No matter where you are in your financial journey, you can take some steps to have a more positive approach to your finances. Flanagan recommends:
Starting a gratitude practice. “Begin by making an exhaustive list of everything you are grateful for in your life: food, shelter, transportation, friends and family are often overlooked in a scarcity mindset,” he says. “Even minor things like a cool breeze, feeling of sunshine, and pleasing music can create a powerful focus for this initial list.” Then, each morning and evening, write down at least three things for which you are grateful that day.
Creating a monthly budget. Flanagan recommends setting a monthly budget to track what you earn and spend in a month. Create categories for rent/mortgage, utilities, food, transportation, healthcare, medicine, insurance and leisure activities/personal expenses.
Spending mindfully. When you budget for leisure activities or personal expenses, you are setting aside money you “get” to spend, which creates a more positive perspective. “Set aside money for meaningful experiences and material goods, such as travel to new destinations or presents for friends and family,” he suggests. “These expenses will likely have significant positive impact on your wellbeing and relationships.”
Connecting with family and friends. Tell them you’re grateful for them. “When we begin to cultivate gratitude and an abundance mindset in our lives, we open ourselves to more readily receive help from family and friends,” says Flanagan. “Often, a scarcity mindset will prevent us from reaching out to others and sharing our vulnerabilities.”
Helping someone in need. Whether it’s checking in on an older neighbor, helping a struggling coworker, donating to a favorite charity or volunteering at a local shelter, giving to someone else can inspire a more positive, grateful mindset.
Learn more ways to reduce stress and improve your well-being.