At some point in your financial life you may have heard that if you don’t believe you can get more money then you won’t get it.
The reality is that our perception of ourselves, and how worthy we think we are, has a direct correlation with our net worth. In other words, net worth is affected by self-worth.
Barabara Stanny, a leading expert on women and money, mentions this in her latest book, Sacred Success. Whenever she interviews someone who is a high earner they simultaneously have a high level of self-worth. In fact, many of the people she interviews say they initially felt unworthy of earning more money, a feeling they had to conquer before their net worth improved.
The average net worth of an individual 21-29 was about $8,000 in 2015, according to forthcoming Money Under 30 study. When you consider growing student loan debt and the number of 20-somethings still in school or struggling to start a well-paying career, that low number may not be that surprising. But if your net worth isn’t where you might like it to be, it shouldn’t lull you into a sense of comfort, either.
The financial blogger Financial Samurai analyzed another study by CNN Money that found a similar average net worth ($9,000) among Americans aged 21-34. Then he illustrated just how much more an above-average saver should be able to accumulate, if you’re smart. Combining pre-tax savings like 401(k)s, post-tax savings and home equity, Financial Samurai shows how above-average savers could grow net worths of up to $79,000 by age 25 and $429,000 by age 35.
That’s a long way from the average.
So what’s the deal? Why are some people making way more for their age group while others struggle?
Above-average savers have a healthy dose of self-esteem
According to Financial Samurai’s research, one of the key characteristics of an above-average person is having a healthy self-esteem and believing in themselves.
They also always actively pursue ways to build wealth. They have an unbelievably optimistic idea that they can always make more money.
From a financial perspective, those who have good self-esteem ask for more money, save more, invest and take risks like starting a business or buying real estate. They also know how to bounce back from pitfalls or debt a lot faster.
How do you develop your self-esteem?
Granted, self-esteem is something that’s bolstered (or depleted) over many years. That’s where self-improvement comes in; working on the following can lead to big changes in your own self-worth:
- Accept compliments instead of brushing them off
- Name one thing you are grateful for about yourself each day
- List the ways you give value into the world regardless of whether it’s work-related or personal
- Start becoming more assertive
Some of these steps — like being assertive and asking for a raise — can have a direct impact on your bottom line. But even these others create intangible changes in how you manage your money. Don’t be surprised if you actually start taking better care of your finances.
Above-average savers track their finances diligently
According to Kate Northrup, author of Money: A Love Story, paying attention to your money is an act of self-care.
One example she gives is deciding not to buy a pair of shoes because you begin to see saving money as an act of nourishing yourself. In other words, you are worthy of keeping the money you make. On the flip side, if you avoid managing your money then it may be an issue of not thinking you’re worthy enough. Take emotional spenders as an example. In order to avoid dealing with uncomfortable emotions, they may decide to take out their feelings on their credit card and overspend.
The key here is to start seeing yourself as a long term investment. You overcome laziness and workout because you know exercise is an investment in your long-term health; managing your money is no different.
Furthermore, you cannot take care of others if you do not take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself financially is one of the many ways to ensure you’re okay so you can be there for others — whether it’s taking care of your family, being there for clients or giving to your favorite charities.
Above-average savers push themselves out of their comfort zones
Just because someone has high self-esteem doesn’t mean they don’t have fears. The reality is that everyone has fear around money. It’s how you deal with the fear that matters.
According to Barbara Stanny’s research, high earners feel the fear and act anyway. That means asking for a raise. It means learning about investing. It means seeking new employment when you’ve reached the earning limits at your current job.
One way to increase your self-worth is to purposely put yourself in uncomfortable situations. So if you are afraid of negotiating, put yourself in situations where you have the opportunity to ask for more money.
It will be terrifying at first, but over time, you’ll begin realizing how powerful acting anyway can be — for both your confidence and your checkbook.