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Mind over Money: Psychological strategies that will help you find financial success

Link to the Episode

Anshu Bahanda: Welcome to another episode of Wellness Curated. This is your host, Anshu Bahanda, and as you know, my aim with this podcast is to present ideas, approaches and tools that can help you lead a healthier, happier, more hopeful life. This season we’re focusing on social well being and our discussion today explores a really interesting topic. We’re going to talk about how to use psychology to increase your wealth. Now, it’s often said that your mindset determines your success. Let’s go into that and let’s explore the fact that can we actually alter our mindset and get that to alter our financial well being? We’re joined today by Joyce Marter. She’s an esteemed psychotherapist. She’s had over two decades of experience in being a psychotherapist. She’s the acclaimed author of The Financial Mindset Fix. She’s an entrepreneur, she’s a philanthropist and she’s a respected public speaker. Now her extensive experience includes collaborating with various organisations and corporates, tackling mindset hurdles and also dealing with financial health. Welcome to the chat Joyce, and thank you for being here with us today.

Joyce Marter: My pleasure Anshu. Thank you so much for the kind introduction and I’m honoured and excited to be here. 

AB: To begin with, tell me a little bit about how you got interested in linking mind matters and finance and how did you decide to make this association? Was there a trigger in your life or something that got you to step on this?

JM: Yes, absolutely. So as you mentioned, I’m a licensed psychotherapist. So I was practising in the Chicago area in the United States, and I noticed something really surprising. As my clients started to make progress in therapy, they started to earn more money. And I was confused by it actually. Client after client was coming in reporting that they were getting raises and promotions, they were leaving to start their own businesses or their own side hustle and we weren’t even talking about money at the time. We were treating anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. And what I realised is that in therapy we’re always working on our underlying self-worth and self-esteem. And as we start to feel better about ourselves, we put ourselves out in the world differently with more confidence and assertiveness and we’re willing to expand our comfort zones, and we also negotiate and advocate for ourselves and this all has a financial return. So I became really interested in the psychology of money, how our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, behaviours and relationship with money impact our financial reality. As you mentioned, I’m an entrepreneur and I made 1000 mistakes in my business and I struggled with my own financial mindset. So I used tools from psychology to change my mindset and it changed my business. I went from thinking I was going to have to file bankruptcy and being in what I called ‘cash-flow hell’, to being able to sell my business successfully for a multimillion dollar amount, something I would have never thought was possible. 

AB: Amazing! And you put a lot of this in your [book] Financial Mindset Fix right. And you explore the connection between the mindset and wealth. So now let’s explore how cognitive behaviour therapy can actually be applied to one’s financial destiny.

JM: Absolutely. So cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most empirically supported forms of therapy and it asserts that our thoughts precede our emotions and behaviours. So if we have negative, fear-based and catastrophic thoughts about money through self-fulfilling prophecies, that’s going to create our reality. And so we want to examine our beliefs about money. And for many of us, this comes from culture, from religious teachings, and from our family of origin or even our intergenerational family. We were taught whether money was good or bad or whether it was available to us or not. So we have an opportunity to shift our thoughts about money and really change our mindset from a scarcity mindset to an abundant mindset. So scarcity is focused on fear and lack and competition, over resources. And abundance is the idea that there’s more than enough for all of us and we can collaborate and embrace our worth.

AB: That’s lovely. And what is so lovely is that you don’t see so much of that in the financial world. Because I’ve worked as a banker and in the whole investment banking space, trading floor space, the mindset, at least used to be, very different when I was part of that world. And from what I understand, it’s very different even today. So I’m so glad you’re bringing some of your knowledge to this area. The thing I want to explore with you is that a number of studies have shown that conscientiousness is a strong personality trait that helps with wealth accumulation. From your experience, what psychological traits would you say would be most beneficial for financial success?

JM: Well, I absolutely agree that conscientiousness is an aspect of that which is really self awareness and also awareness and compassion for others, having empathy and emotional intelligence. And in my book, I share twelve mindsets or personality traits that are empirically supported to improve both mental health and financial health. And they include awareness, they include presence, positivity, self love, support, equanimity, compassion and resilience, and more. So as we build these skills, we really build a holistic life of success that includes both mental well-being as well as connected relationships, work-life balance, and financial health and prosperity. 

AB: Wonderful. And that list of yours, you’re talking about— love, self love, you’re talking about awareness. All the things you’re talking about have nothing to do with finance! 

JM: That’s what’s so interesting, isn’t it?  And yet the research shows that they lead to improved financial health. And I came to those twelve mindsets after 25 years of counselling clients from very diverse backgrounds and really paying attention to what makes a person successful and noticing and learning from my clients and reaping their wisdom and seeing that these are sort of the twelve universal truths that lead to an expansive life.

AB: That’s right. Interesting. Now, the other thing that I want to touch on, Joyce, is in today’s day and age, we see that the environment and the social responsibility has become a much bigger thing than it used to be, and there’s a lot more awareness, and we’re trying to encourage people in that direction. Now, tell me, how can we use psychological principles to create wealth and still honour the planet, honour society? 

JM: Absolutely. Well, all of my teachings really are about the idea that when we have more, we can help more. So this is not about greed or materialism or excess. When we align our gifts with the needs of the world to the greatest extent possible, we can accumulate wealth, and we can direct that for good in the areas that are important to us through philanthropy. I also really believe in rooting our work and our businesses in empathy and compassion. And we can practise conscious capitalism and really do ethical work through right action, making sure that our businesses are a win for not only the employees, but the staff and the clients and even the environment, because we’re all interconnected and we’re interdependent. 

AB: And another thing that I want to ask you is, does one’s socio-economic status impact their mental health?

JM: Absolutely. There’s a huge interconnection between mental health and financial health. So when we have financial stress or financial struggles, it can trigger or exacerbate mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, substance-use disorders, and even financially triggered post traumatic stress disorder. There are research studies that 75% of the world’s suicides occur in countries with economic distress. So financial stress can very much impair mental health, and it works the other way around as well. When we improve our mental health, we feel confident and at peace with ourselves, and we can be more successful and productive in our work, which has financial outcomes. 

AB: So you’re saying that if we were to improve our mental health, we would actually help improve our financial status, or we could improve our financial status? 

JM: Yes, isn’t that surprising? It’s just like what I was sharing with you at the start of the show that— as my clients made progress with their mental health, they started to earn more money. So it’s a surprising result, but our health is holistic and everything is interconnected. And oftentimes we focus on our physical health or our financial health, and we forget how important our psychological or mental health is. 

AB: Very interesting, Joyce. So in the previous episode, we interviewed Spencer Sherman, who I think you know. He’s the CEO of Abacus Wealth. 

JM: I do. We are both authors with the same publisher— Sounds True. He’s lovely. Yes.

AB: And we discussed emotional intelligence. Now, tell me, from your perspective, how does emotional intelligence or EQ, affect our financial choices, and how might we sharpen it to better manage our wealth?

JM: Well, I really believe that when we practise mindfulness, we can cultivate our emotional intelligence. So mindfulness practices include meditation, deep breathing, unplugging from technology, connecting with nature, progressive muscle relaxation, really anything where we get out of our mind chatter, and we look inward and we connect with that deeper, higher part of ourselves, and we detach from our egos, and we connect with our light, with our essence. And when we do that, we cultivate more self awareness. We are able to observe our thoughts and our emotions so that we can respond consciously rather than react emotionally. And so this is really helpful in our relationships as well, because we can be present in our relationships and we can be empathically attuned and notice other people’s emotions and more successfully navigate communication and conflict resolution, which is a big part of business and financial life.

AB: And also, Joyce, can we give people some tips now? Because that’s what we try and do in every episode. How can we help people use psychology to increase their wealth?

JM: So I suggest, really five main tips. Number one, explore your family beliefs and how maybe they’re still holding you back; your family beliefs about money. Number two, heal your financial trauma and intergenerational financial trauma. So financial traumas include: if you’ve ever had a job loss or unemployment or some other kind of financial disaster, maybe a business failed or you grew up in poverty. Number three, shift from a scarcity mindset to an abundant mindset. Number four, reroute your thoughts about money from negative to positive. And finally, and I actually think this is the most important— embrace your worth. We are all innately deserving of all that is good, and it’s our mind that sort of gets in our way. And so when we embrace our worth, we can stop that self-limitation and self-sabotage. 

AB: Okay, so I want to, very quickly, explore all five of these with you and just discuss them a little bit. And how would people do this? So the first one was: explore your family beliefs, right? And decide whether they work for you, whether they don’t. How would you advise people to do that? 

JM: Think about your early money memories? What do you remember your parents saying to you about money? What were your impressions about money? And we all unconsciously recreate what’s familiar until we become aware and we choose something different. So did you receive some money messages based on your gender or your role in the family that are somehow maybe holding you back? And how can you change those beliefs to really expand your wealth and your financial wellness? 

AB: So would you recommend a particular kind of therapy for that?

JM: Well, I think… Even in my book I have a program, it’s step by step, and I have journaling prompts where people can reflect on these questions. They’re sort of mock therapy sessions where I have prompts and people can journal and respond. And it’s really to increase your insight and your awareness. Because sometimes we don’t realise how, these beliefs from the past, we’ve inherited them. There’s even studies that say in our epigenetics, in our DNA, our ancestral financial trauma is in our cells and impacts the way our neurobiology responds to financial decisions and matters in our current life. So the more aware we are of our family history, the more we can make connections into how that’s shaping how we earn money, how we spend money, how we invest it. What were we told, what messages were passed on to us?

AB: And then you said: heal your intergenerational financial trauma. That was the second point. Would you recommend something like ancestral healing there? What would you recommend? The family constellation therapy? How do you suggest people deal with that?

JM: All of those are fantastic. Also, there are programs, like Spencer Sherman and I recently did a training through Sounds True on: The inner dimensions of mastering money. And I gave a workshop on healing financial trauma. EMDR is a form of therapy that’s a trauma- based therapy protocol that can help us move through traumas. I’ve worked with clients who grew up in poverty and they were very poor. And even though they became educated and were earning money in their here and now, their financial trauma very much impacted how they invested and how they spent their money. So we want to release some of that [trauma] that we’re holding in our minds and our bodies so that we can free ourselves of some of that energy that we’re holding. And so I even believe the mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga, which is meditation with movement, can help move some of that energy and help us heal and recover. 

AB: The third thing was to move from a scarcity to an abundant mindset. Now that also is very hard to do.

JM: It is. And again, my book and program really is a step by step process to help you do that. But anytime that you’re focused on lack and this fear that there’s not enough money, not enough jobs or food or resources or opportunities or even time, that’s a scarcity mindset. So developing some awareness of your self-talk and when you’re giving yourself these messages, that really fuel anxiety and negativity and instead open yourself up to an abundant mindset where instead of seeing problems and closed doors and barriers, you’re using your creativity and problem solving to see past that. That’s something I really notice with entrepreneurs, for example, entrepreneurs tend to see the way through a problem, tend to have tenacity and perseverance, whereas some other people might say, ‘Oh, that’s not possible.’ That’s a limited belief system that’s rooted in scarcity. 

AB: Lovely. And you also said reroute your thoughts from negative thoughts to positive thoughts. That’s similar, right?

JM: It is similar. But even this sounds like such a silly, simple technique. But in cognitive behavioural therapy there’s a tool called thought stopping. So if you have a negative thought about money, like, I’m not going to be able to pay my bills this month, and therefore I am a failure, then you would say to yourself: ‘Stop. Just stop. That’s a negative thought. I’m recognising that I’m doing it, and it’s fueling my mind and body with panic. And instead, I’m going to breathe and practise some mindfulness, get grounded, and reframe that thought to: how am I going to manage my money to effectively move through this cycle of bills?’ And then you move into a place of responsibility and problem solving that’s more empowered. So the thinking, again, really impacts how we behave and our financial outcome. So if we can become more mindful of that self-talk, we can coach ourselves through these challenges. And believe me, I had to do that myself with my business to recover from financial stress and big business problems, to really be able to correct problems in the company so that we could succeed and move forward.

AB: That was wonderful. And the last one, embrace your worth. How would you suggest people do that?

JM: Well, my favourite thing as a therapist is to mirror back to my clients everything that is beautiful and amazing and unique about them. So really, we can always be our own worst critic. So learning how to silence our inner critic or inner saboteur— that voice in our head that puts us down and instead really celebrate our gifts and talents and strengths. Maybe ask your mentors or friends or family what they appreciate about you and really honour that and value yourself and celebrate yourself in how you share yourself in the world around you. 

AB: Lovely. You know, there’s a small technique that I learned years ago, and initially it seems so silly, but it’s literally looking at yourself in the mirror and saying amazing things about yourself. Saying: ‘You’re amazing, you’re beautiful, you’re worth so much.’ And people initially start laughing when they start doing that because it feels so silly to look at yourself in the mirror. But actually, it’s a simple technique that really helps. 

JM: Absolutely. Mel Robbins is an author who says to high five yourself in the mirror, just looking deeply into your eyes and saying, ‘I love you’ to yourself. It’s an emotional thing to do. It can be challenging. But when we work on healing our relationship with ourselves, our life transforms and changes, not just financially, but in all manners— in our relationships, in our health. So I love that tip.

AB: The next thing I want to talk to you about is, do you find or I’m sure over your career you’ve had examples of financial behaviours that seem rational at that point in time when people did it, but in hindsight have actually been detrimental. What are some of the biggest ones you would tell people to avoid or steer clear of?

JM: Well, there’s a lot of research around common money biases, so these are ways of thinking that are really problematic, that are part of our human nature. So it’s really common for people to have a present bias of money, which is something that was developed by Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler. And it’s this idea that we place greater value on goods or income achieved in the present moment. So we kind of weigh the present more heavily than looking at the impact over time. So now many people are offering these ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes, for example. And that’s an example of present money bias, where it sounds like a great deal in the here and now, but we’re not maybe factoring in how that’s going to impact us financially as time goes on.

Overconfidence is also a money bias. And that’s when sometimes we overestimate our financial acumen or our financial literacy and we think that we know more, maybe than our advisors and it can cause us to make poor investments, maybe put all our eggs in one basket and then have a negative financial outcome.

Another problem or common money bias, is loss aversion. And this is really common for people who’ve had a financial trauma. And this is the idea that the fear of losing money is even greater than the idea of being able to gain money. And so that fear of losing prevents somebody from making investments, from starting their own business or investing in some opportunity in real estate or otherwise. 

And finally, anchoring bias is another common money bias where you rely too much on the first piece of information that you learned about something when making a decision or prediction. So maybe you learned that investing in tech companies is always the great thing to do and you just focus on that and then you ignore the current research and data that you’re receiving. So those are some of the examples [of money biases] that I’ve seen a lot in my practice. 

AB: And what is the best way that you would advise people to stay away from these four common money biases? 

JM: I think to keep them [at the] top of [your] mind and know that it’s human nature and there’s even more money biases. I blog for Money Geek, which is a great site, and Psychology Today. Really, educating yourself about behavioural economics and about these human tendencies with our psychology so that you can be mindful of these sort of sand traps that happen along the way, if you will, so that you can avoid them. 

AB: We try and give people resources and help in these podcasts. We try and give them as much to take away as possible. So do you have any websites you can recommend or books or any resources that you think people can learn from if they want to follow up on our conversation today?

JM: Absolutely. So I’ve shared a designated landing page for this show, and it’s going to be in the show notes. And in there I have links to some articles and books and websites and I wish everybody the best in accessing those resources. I love our publisher, Sounds True, that Spencer and I both have worked with, and there’s a bunch of resources there that I have on the landing page, and my website is, which is J-O-Y-C-E M-A-R-T-E-R .com. 

AB: Thank you for the landing page. That was very helpful. At the end of every session, Joyce, we like to do a summary, so we like to do a rapid fire round. So very quickly, here goes: your top tip on how to harness one’s understanding of human psychology, or at least our own psychology, to harness wealth.

JM: Again, to practise mindfulness and apply mindfulness to money. So, becoming aware of how you respond when you’re making financial decisions. 

AB: A common psychological misstep that often undermines financial success

JM: Thinking small. So sometimes we want to play it safe, and we end up setting our own ceilings with self limiting beliefs. So if we think we just need to make enough to cover our bills, we’re not having expansive thinking and we’re limiting our financial success. 

AB: And one exercise that we can start doing today, to change our mindset and gear us towards financial success.

JM: So this might sound kind of surprising, but think of your financial life as if it were a person. Even name that person and think about how you treat that person. Do you nurture them? Do you honour that relationship? Do you talk about them with other people? Do you access support from advisors? When I was younger, my financial life would have been named Penny. And I ignored her. I was ashamed of her. I was embarrassed of her. I didn’t talk about her with anyone, and she was on life support. I expected a whole lot out of her. And today I think of my financial life as Prosperity, and she’s a direct reflection of my own self worth. And so I take her very seriously. So think about your financial life as if it were a person and treat that person with respect and kindness and attention.

AB: Joyce, no one has ever said that before. That’s fascinating. Thank you for that.

JM: Absolutely!

AB: Over 150 podcasts. No one has ever said that to me before. So I love that. I love that concept because it’s very visual. It makes it so real.

JM: Oh, I’m so glad. I’m glad that you found that helpful, and I hope it is to others as well. Thank you.

AB: Thank you, Joyce, for taking the time to be here with us today. It was very helpful. And thank you for all your insights. Thank you so much.

JM: Anshu, it was my pleasure.

AB: Thank you for taking the time to be here with us today. I hope you learned something new, and I hope we brought you a little closer to leading a healthier, happier, more hopeful life. If you enjoyed the show, please press like and please subscribe to our channel. It’ll encourage us to get you more and more speakers, and it’ll encourage us to get you this program for free. And I would love to hear from you. So please send me an email with any questions and any topic suggestions. My email address is Anshu@Wellnesscurated.Life. Thank you and see you next week.