Everyone says, “Growing up broke destroys your chances of success.” They were wrong. Here’s why.

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Growing up with not much to call my own, I became a master at making do with whatever was at hand.

A pair of jeans lasted years beyond their fashion expiration date, and a single dollar had to be stretched far beyond what seemed possible.

But beneath that resourcefulness, there lingered a constant hum of anxiety—a worry about every cent spent and the fear that it might all run out.

Even as I made my way to more stable financial ground, those fears clung to me like shadows, darkening every decision about money I had to make.

It took time and a lot of self-reflection, but eventually, I uncovered some vital truths about how to cultivate a healthy money mindset.

In this journey of unlearning and relearning, I picked up 8 pivotal lessons that reshaped the way I think about and handle money.

They didn’t just change my bank balance; they changed my life. And I believe they can do the same for you.

Here’s how embracing these lessons can help you break free from the chains of financial fear and step into a world of monetary confidence.

1) Understanding that scarcity doesn’t define value

Growing up with limited resources taught me to see the world in terms of what I didn’t have.

Every financial decision was a battle between necessity and desire, often leaving me feeling like I was one step away from disaster.

This scarcity mindset followed me into adulthood, where I viewed money as something that would always be just out of reach.

The first breakthrough lesson I learned was to separate my self-worth from my net worth.

Money is a tool, not a measure of value.

By acknowledging that my value as a person is not tied to my bank account, I slowly started to approach financial decisions with more confidence and less fear.

It wasn’t about how much I had, but rather how I used what was available to me.

This shift in perspective was liberating; it meant I could make choices based on what was truly important to me, rather than out of fear of running out.

Recognizing that scarcity doesn’t define us leads directly to embracing investments, shifting from a mindset of lack to one of growth and potential…

2) Embracing investment over immediate gratification

After years of equating spending with loss, the idea of investing was foreign and intimidating to me.

It represented a risk that could result in even less than what I already had—a gamble with stakes that felt too high.

The turning point came when I realized that strategic investments could actually lead to growth rather than just another expense to worry about.

I started small, directing a little money here and there into opportunities that promised long-term benefits, whether it was professional development courses, a retirement fund, or even quality items that wouldn’t need constant replacement.

Watching these investments pay off over time was a revelation. It wasn’t just about the monetary returns; it was the understanding that putting money into something with the potential to grow is a powerful step toward breaking the cycle of paycheck-to-paycheck living.

This approach required patience and a level of trust in the future that I had never permitted myself to have, but it marked the beginning of a more hopeful financial journey.

Investing teaches us to see money as a means to an end, guiding us towards using it to build the lives we want, rather than chasing wealth itself…

3) Recognizing money as a means, not an end

There was a time when I thought amassing wealth was the ultimate goal.

It seemed like the obvious solution to the insecurities and limitations I experienced growing up.

I poured my energy into earning more, driven by the idea that a certain number in my bank account would be the finish line where all my worries would vanish.

One particularly grueling month, after working endless overtime to hit a financial target, I sat down with my paycheck and felt…nothing. No triumph, no peace, just exhaustion.

That’s when it hit me: money in itself wasn’t the answer. It’s what we do with it that matters. Money should serve as a tool to build the life you want, not be the destination itself.

I started setting goals beyond the financial figures, focusing on what experiences or achievements I wanted money to enable for me and my loved ones.

Did I want to travel? Further my education? Provide for my family without stress?

Understanding that money was a means to these ends changed everything. It became about crafting a fulfilling journey, not just reaching a monetary milestone.

With a healthier view of money, we’re encouraged to break the silence around it, turning financial discussions from taboo to empowering conversations…

4) Money conversations can be empowering, not taboo

I grew up in a home where money was rarely discussed, except in hushed tones as bills were due or when there was an unexpected expense.

This silence built an invisible wall around the topic of money, making it feel like something shameful or anxiety-inducing.

It wasn’t until I was forced to negotiate my salary for the first time that I realized how speaking openly about money could actually be empowering.

The discussion led to a surprising outcome—I got the raise I asked for.

This experience taught me that being open about financial aspirations and concerns can lead to better understanding and opportunities.

From then on, I started to initiate more conversations about money with friends, family, and financial advisors. I found out that many people shared similar fears and experiences.

These discussions have not only demystified various aspects of personal finance for me but have also helped build a supportive community where we can all share advice and encouragement.

Talking about money became less of a societal faux pas and more of a collective learning experience.

And this is precisely what helps us confront and release past financial mistakes, allowing us to move forward with learned lessons…

5) Letting go of past financial mistakes as a path to growth

Holding onto the financial slip-ups of my past used to be a heavy burden.

There were moments where I’d lie awake replaying choices that led to lost savings or debt.

It felt like I was carrying a backpack filled with rocks, each one a symbol of a mistake I couldn’t undo.

Eventually, I learned that every financial expert started somewhere, and many had made mistakes similar to mine.

The key was to learn from them rather than let them define my financial future.

I began to reflect on what each experience taught me, writing down these insights and actively applying them to my current money management strategies.

This process of reflection and forgiveness freed me from the weight of my past. It allowed me to move forward without the constant drag of regret.

By acknowledging where I’d gone wrong and what it taught me, I could make more informed decisions, turning past weaknesses into strengths and creating a more solid foundation for my financial life.

Learning from our errors leads naturally to the practical step of building an emergency fund, providing a tangible sense of security and easing money anxieties…

6) Building a safety net to soften the fear of scarcity

The gnawing fear of not having enough, which had followed me since childhood, didn’t ease up easily.

Even as I started to earn more and manage my money better, the anxiety of potential financial ruin lingered like an unwanted shadow.

It was the slow and steady building of an emergency fund that began to soften those fears.

I committed to setting aside a small percentage of my income, treating it as non-negotiable as rent or groceries.

Over time, this fund grew into a cushion that could support me in case of unexpected expenses or sudden income loss.

Having this safety net transformed my relationship with money. It was no longer a source of stress but a resource I had strategically accumulated for peace of mind.

The knowledge that I had this buffer allowed me to make financial decisions from a place of security rather than panic, knowing I had a fallback that my younger self never did.

A solid safety net fosters smarter spending, sharpening our ability to differentiate between essentials and extras, thus fine-tuning our budgeting skills…

7) Distinguishing needs from wants to prioritize spending

One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned is to differentiate between what I need and what I want.

This may sound basic, but when you grow up with very little, the line between the two can become blurred. Everything feels like a need because you’re accustomed to going without.

As I became more financially literate, I realized that careful prioritization of spending was key.

I started to question each purchase, asking myself if it was truly necessary or if it was a desire fueled by old habits or external pressures.

This didn’t mean I denied myself all pleasures; rather, I learned to plan for them.

This approach allowed me to allocate funds more effectively.

Budgeting for needs ensured my financial stability, while selectively indulging in wants prevented feelings of deprivation.

It was a delicate balance that took time to master, but it made all the difference in managing my finances without falling back into a scarcity mindset.

Prioritizing spending helps us appreciate what we have, shifting focus from scarcity to abundance and transforming our financial outlook…

8) Cultivating gratitude to transform your financial perspective

In my journey to redefine my money mindset, one of the most impactful lessons has been the practice of gratitude.

When you grow up with scarcity, it’s easy to focus on what you lack. This can lead to a perpetual cycle of dissatisfaction, where no amount of money seems enough because there’s always someone who has more.

I started a simple daily practice of writing down three things I was financially grateful for.

Some days it was as fundamental as having a roof over my head or food in the fridge. Other days, it was the ability to pay a bill without worry or to treat a friend to coffee.

This routine shifted my focus from scarcity to abundance and from what I was chasing to what I already possessed.

Gratitude didn’t just make me happier; it also made me more responsible with my finances.

When I appreciated what I had, I was less likely to make impulsive purchases trying to fill an emotional void. Instead, I felt content and made wiser choices that aligned with my long-term financial well-being.

This powerful change in mindset turned out to be the cornerstone of a healthy relationship with money, one where I felt in control and at peace.

The bottom line

Reflecting on these lessons, you might find echoes of your own experiences with money and the lingering fears that come from a childhood of scarcity.

The journey to a healthy money mindset is deeply personal and often challenging, but it’s a path paved with profound rewards.

As you embark on this transformative process, remember that change is incremental.

Each small step you take towards understanding your financial behaviors and attitudes is progress. Celebrating every victory, no matter how minor it seems, fuels your journey forward.

Begin by simply acknowledging where you are and the strides you’ve made so far. Whether it’s opening up about finances, learning from past mistakes, or finding gratitude in what you have, these are all significant milestones.

And while the road to reshaping your money mindset may be ongoing, the clarity and confidence gained with every insight allow you to make more empowered choices.

Your relationship with money becomes not just about numbers in an account but about crafting a life filled with purpose and abundance.

Take a moment to look back at how far you’ve come and then forward to where these lessons can lead you. With continued mindfulness and intention, financial peace isn’t just a possibility—it’s within reach.

Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling has a background in entrepreneurship, having started and managed several small businesses. His journey through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship provides him with practical insights into personal resilience, strategic thinking, and the value of persistence. Ethan’s articles offer real-world advice for those looking to grow personally and professionally.

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