Smiling young woman sitting at her workplace.

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It’s not uncommon for people to think they might have the worst money habits ever, but the first step in breaking them is acknowledgment and aiming to improve. And don’t worry too much about past mistakes you’ve made!

Chances are if you are looking to get on the right track, you’ll be working with a financial advisor — possibly one who has been there, done that, and broken free of the cycle. 

GOBankingRates spoke with James M. Comblo, president of FSC Wealth Advisors, and Jenny Whichello, money coach at Bliss + Wealth, to talk about their worst money habits and the changes they made to reverse these behaviors. Here’s how two financial advisors were able to break their bad money habits.

Scarcity Mindset

Growing up, every decision in Comblo’s life was dictated by money. His family had very little means and money ruled the food they ate, the doctors they saw and the sports he played. So, having a scarcity mindset was the bad habit which stuck with him.

“The fear was always we couldn’t afford it or we wouldn’t have enough if we did that,” said Comblo.

As Comblo started to settle into his adult life and become more financially successful, he maintained the scarcity mindset. What if he lost his job? What if he had an emergency? The “what ifs” resulted in stockpiling money into bank and investment accounts without enjoying any of his earnings.

When someone close to Comblo passed away at age 58, he changed his mindset. He allowed himself and his family to enjoy their money using reverse budgeting. This is where you save the money you want first. Then, you can spend the rest of it guilt-free. 

“Healthy relationships with money include enjoying some of the money as you earn it,” said Comblo. “The point is not to watch the money grow somewhere in an account. It’s about what money can do for you and how it can help you enjoy your life today while also saving for later.”

Avoiding Finances

In her twenties, Whichello said her biggest, unhelpful habit was avoiding her finances. “I would destroy my bank and credit card statements without opening the envelopes. I had an ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality around money,” Whichello said.

This mentality resulted in several adverse effects including maxing out credit cards, overdrafting bank accounts and dipping into savings to cover living expenses.

To stop the cycle, Whichello said she needed to get to the root cause of why she avoided her finances. For several months, she reflected on her relationship with money and uncovered some of her core beliefs about it.

One core belief she had was that money is stressful. Avoiding money is the best way to minimize the pain. Whichello said this belief originated from watching her mother at the kitchen table paying the monthly bills. This was her mother’s most stressful, dreaded activity.

Once she understood this core belief — money was stressful, therefore she avoided managing her finances — Whichello said she looked for evidence to the contrary.

She was then able to retrain herself to adopt a new belief: I am fully capable of managing my money and having a blissful relationship with it.

“I coupled reviewing my finances with a treat. For me, that was a pedicure. This trained my mind to look forward to the activity, instead of dreading it,” said Whichello.

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