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The Most Toxic Beliefs About Money People Have

As a "rags to riches" person, I need to dispel some of the toxic beliefs about money that keep people poor.

Photo by Sharon Mccutcheon

The American Dream is one I very strongly relate to. It's a dream that means you can be the next major rags to riches story. We hear stories of people attaining the dream every single day—from Puff Daddy, to Warren Buffett, to Bill Gates. 

As much as we often hear of people who go from nothing to substantial wealth, you really don't actually see it too often. I ought to know; I was living in my car for a good amount of time, then started squatting with friends. 

Most of the people I know are still stuck in a low-income life. They are not showing any sign of improvement, and will likely get stuck there. I, on the other hand? I'm doing well for myself. I am middle class and am close to making it to upper class. 

A large part of my climb to the top was luck and networking. This much I'm willing to admit. However, a lot of it dealt with me shedding the most toxic beliefs about money that my friends still desperately cling to. 

Wondering what you can do to improve your situation? You might want to rethink these 11 terrible supporting beliefs about money and wealth holding you back. 

"Quit your job, start a business, and you're good to go."

This seems like one of the best beliefs about money, but it's a killer. The reason why this fails is because most people assume they just come up with a product, advertise it on Facebook, and they'll do well. 

In reality, 90 percent of businesses fail in the first five years. 

If you aren't living off a trust fund, you need to keep your day job until your business is making the same amount of money for you. You need experience and a backup plan in most cases.

 Most people I know quit their job, sell possessions, and can't scrape together to get the money to fund their biz. They refuse to take advice from others, freak out when it doesn't work, and float around aimlessly.

Then, the businesses fold up and the owners are broke. They then claim rich people are greedy because they couldn't get them to invest in their dumpster fire startup. 

Surprise. You actually need a plan, smarts, and a good amount of backup funds to make a future. 

"I can't get a well-paying job, and I can only work 36 hours a week at my hourly!"

Most of my friends don't get why this is one of the most toxic beliefs about money people have. It's incredibly defeatist and outdated. No one, and I mean no one, has job security anymore. 

To survive in a cutthroat world, you have to market yourself well, hone your skills, learn how the rich do it, and work like a madman following their example. That's how you stay in a decent job, and how you advocate for better pay. 

At the very least, you should try to have a side gig—and cultivate a skill in your spare time that can make some money. Things like learning computer programs such as C++, offering to put together furniture from IKEA, or just doing grocery runs can make a decent amount of cash. 

My friends who don't spend time seeking out good opportunities always struggle. Those who hustle often have it easier. 

"I don't need to invest."

The Great Recession gave birth to one of the most toxic beliefs about money I've seen. It made people believe stock market investments are bad. I wince when I hear this. It's just so wrong. 

You need to invest in order to retire. Money that just sits there depreciates in value due to inflation. Investing makes your money work for you—thereby giving you a way to make money in your sleep.

Yes, you may lose some money, but if you invest wisely, you will make a good amount more than you lose. The stock market offers annual returns of about 7 percent on average, with some investments providing a 10 percent annual return. The longer you invest, the better your returns.

"Money is the root of all evil."

Okay, I understand why a lot of people who are dirt poor feel that way. 

Banks can be aggravating and at times, predatory. There are a lot of politicians and CEOs who are corrupt and make money off the backs of others. Desperate and greedy people get very cruel to make their ends meet. 

But, money is also a tool. Money pays for food for the homeless. Money can give your kids opportunities you didn't have. Money can fund medical care and save the ocean.

How you use your money makes all the difference. The only thing money does is reveal your character a little bit better. There is nothing noble about being poor. 

"I don't need to go to school or read. I got this."

My mom drilled it into me that rejecting knowledge is an act rooted in one of the most toxic beliefs about money you can attain. I thank her for that every day. 

Take a look at the people in a rich neighborhood. 

All the money they have can go away in an instant. Their house can burn down. The dollar could crash and they could be worth pennies. The government could seize their businesses. People could rob their homes. 

Though all the physical goods can vanish, no one can take away what you have in your mind. In an increasingly difficult job market, having skills and knowledge makes you valuable. 

Knowledge and experience help you figure out what to do while everyone else is clueless. Thinking for yourself and learning from people who struck it rich is what makes all the difference. Listen to the successful, and you will do well. 

"Looks don't matter."

Also not true. People will always judge people, products, and places by the way they look. This can make or break your ability to get hired by the right people. 

How you look is your brand. My brand is made to be individualistic and creative, since I'm an artist. It's what I do to make myself immersed in my work. I rock the look of eccentric artistry.

Look at your clothing. Are you saying what you want to say?

"Social skills don't matter, it's all about results and work."

I can personally attest to the power that having social skills wields. As someone who struggles socially, I often end up being unable to communicate my needs. When I do communicate it, it's often inappropriately done. 

In life, it's not what you know as much as who you know. Not being able to schmooze and connect with others can, and will, wreck your ability to make the most of your earning power. 

"I can hang out with whoever, I'll make it to the top."

The phrase "birds of a feather flock together" is true—to a point. If you start hanging out with a certain crowd, you will begin to adopt their mannerisms. You then start to think like them, eventually shedding old beliefs.

Studies show we will most likely earn around the same amount of money as the five people we interact most with. If you're hanging out with people who are stuck like you, they won't lift you up. 

"I'll do it later."

I hope I don't actually have to explain why this is one of the most toxic beliefs about money in poor communities, right? I can tell you from watching so many people, later rarely ever comes.

Don't procrastinate with cash. Time is money, and the sooner you fix problems, the better off you'll be. This is true about paying down debt, learning financial literacy, and investing.

Remember—time won't always be on your side. 

"I follow the examples of people I trust, not people I see as successful."

This is a bad move that will bite you in the behind if you fall for it. You may trust people who deserve it, but that doesn't always mean they're the ones to listen to. 

You need to listen to people who were where you are, and are now where you want to be. They'll understand what you need to do better than someone who's still stuck where you are.

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