The largest Powerball jackpot in history probably seems like old news today, but it led to a huge money mindset a-ha for me that I’d like to share with you today. Let’s journey back to a couple weeks ago: the record-breaking Powerball jackpot was the talk of the town. People daydreamed about what they would do if they won, while others scolded us for being stupid and wasting money on lottery tickets and false hopes. I generally don’t play the lottery and you can likely guess the couple times I did — when the jackpots were huge. I always bought my ticket with no expectation of winning and went merrily on my way when I didn’t. But this jackpot was different.
It was big. Massively big. So big that some places couldn’t even properly display the total amount on their billboard because the number was too high. This was a true game changer. At dinner with some friends, we fantasized about the possibilities, while making promises to share our good fortune with each other and so on. It was harmless fun. With the jackpot estimated over a billion dollars, I decided to set aside a couple of bucks for Wednesday’s drawing.
My Money Mindset Kept Me Out of the Game
Monday went by and I didn’t buy a Powerball ticket. Tuesday slipped away with no ticket tucked in my desk drawer for safe-keeping. Wednesday was here and it was now or never. Thoughts of “what if” kept distracting me, so eventually I left my apartment with the intent to buy groceries and a Powerball ticket. Even though the likelihood of winning was minuscule, I couldn’t let go of the thought — what if I held the winning ticket?
I went to the store, filled my basket and left the store without a Powerball ticket but a heavy heart instead.
You see, I didn’t buy a Powerball ticket because I decided not to play, which would have been a mindful and acceptable choice.
But I didn’t buy a lottery ticket because the idea of so much money and success scared me.
I thought my days of being scared of money were behind me. But truthfully, those fears have always lurked underneath my bravado. Without a doubt, I am more mindful of how I spend my money and make better and more joyful choices with how I use it, which is good.
But … I still fear it, including having too little and … too much.
3 Ways Money Fears Hold Us Prisoner
This realization that my money fears still had such a hold me was an unwelcome surprise. It also made me wonder how else they were affecting me. Fear held me back from buying a lottery ticket, which some would argue is a good thing, but how else might fear be influencing my money mindset?
#1. I Had Set a Limit on My Worth
The bottom line is that I didn’t feel worthy of having a billion dollars and not because I didn’t “earn” the money. Many of us have set a limit on how much we think we are worth, whether we realize it or not. The jackpot was so out of my realm that it actually stressed me out. And I realized there were many times that I undervalued myself and sought opportunities that fit my mental earnings and success range. I downplayed my worth and skill sets and let others take advantage of me or even worse, talked myself out of opportunities that went beyond what felt comfortable or right to me financially. I told myself it was “too much” or “who am I to have so much”. My money mindset wasn’t wired towards abundance, like I want it to be, and instead had set limitations.
#2. I Didn’t Trust Myself to Make Good Choices
Mixed in with all my wonderful daydreams of what I would do with my lottery winnings were lots of dark thoughts. Concerns that people would take advantage of me. Or I would make bad decisions and lose my new-found wealth before I could do any real good. All valid fears, but they were just costuming to mask the real truth: I didn’t trust myself.
We all have gut instinct. It’s not infallible but when finely tuned, it can steer you straight the majority of time. Me and gut instinct were out of tune, which I didn’t realize. My gut was tuned to fear, anxiety and doubt. This not only influences how I look at life in general but also how I look at opportunities and my abilities to achieve goals.
#3. I Let Emotion Overrule Logic
I work with a woman who is considered to be a money emotions expert, and I’m a bit of a mini-me (and not just because I’m a foot shorter) when it comes to following her. I know how powerful our emotions are and their ability to influence how we use money. As a recovering mindless spender, I have made great progress and thought my days of letting emotions control my money mindset were long gone, so I let down my guard.
I stopped being as vigilant or aware of my emotions and didn’t notice how fear or even success colored my logic. At that moment, there were so many wacky scenarios running through my mind, and instead of giving them control, I should have taken a deep breath and asked myself why I felt so anxious. I can never forget that my money mindset is a lot like Spock, both logical and emotional. I always need to pay attention to how my emotions are influencing my decisions.
I Didn’t Win a Billion Dollars but Still Won Something Priceless
Even though I was too much of a scaredy-cat to play the Powerball, I still won. I recognized how my money mindset was affecting me from how much I thought I was worth to influencing how I look at opportunities. Now I have the chance to recalibrate and rebalance to ensure that I don’t limit myself and see the world with abundant eyes. To remind myself that I don’t need to win the lottery to lead a “rich” life and can make one all by myself.
How do you gauge your money mindset? Have you ever been surprised by how it influences you? What tips do you have to manage it?
I have pondered this question a few times myself! I have stopped myself from buying things simply because I thought that I wasn’t the “type” of person to own something like that. I also feared winning the Powerball for very similar reasons to you. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my fear of handling money or even having an abundance around!
You are definitely not alone, Miranda! I’m trying to find that balance where I’m honoring what I want versus trying to please others, whether it’s keeping up with the Joneses or the Frugales. It made me sad to see that my abundance outlook wasn’t nearly as strong as I thought it was but I’m glad that I realized how I cap myself and set limitations.
Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says
Oh my gosh, Tanya! How powerful!! I felt the exact same way about the lotto. I really didn’t want to win. Some of it was because of self-worth. Some was because really, I just don’t want the responsibility of that kind of cash. Fascinating how those hidden layers of “self” just keep on peeling back.
It is a lot of responsibility. There was a time I wouldn’t have necessarily thought about it that way but now I definitely do. And I don’t want to be scared of the responsibility of making good, mindful choices with my money whether it’s a $100 or $1.5 billion, ya know.
Tonya@Budget and the Beach says
hmmm, such a loaded question. I think, however, there are logical and valid reasons for not wanting to win because of some of the fears you mentioned like people coming out of the woodwork or robbing your or something, because that has actually happened. I think my money mindset possibly shifted a bit too far to the other side of spending, which isn’t all that great either. Now I feel guilty for spending anything! Somehow I need to find a balance.
There are absolutely people who would take advantage of your good fortune, which is really a bit of a buzz kill! 🙂 I struggle to find that balance too. Some days I’m okay. Other days I lean too far towards getting back to mindless spending or too frugal. I really have to watch my emotions, because just as I am an emotional eater, I am an emotional spender. I have to get both in balance!
Jana @ Jana Says says
We played, only because it was for fun. We knew there was know way on earth we’d win but it was fun to pretend. I’ll tell you, though, that the idea of that much money was crazy intimidating. Not so much because I didn’t think I deserved something I didn’t work for but because what do you do with it? I found it intimidating to think that whatever choices I made for the money wouldn’t be good enough or altruistic enough or smart enough or a whole host of other adjectives enough.
I’ve never really sat down and thought about my money mindset. I probably should do that. I mean, I know I spend in line with our budget and priorities but I’ve never actually hashed out *what* I think about money and how it affects my choices.
It is fun to imagine the possibilities. That part I definitely enjoyed but then when my brain went wacky into the what ifs, I scared myself silly. It is a big responsibility and I do think that it actually speaks well of us that we care so much that we use our wealth to help others beyond just living it up ourselves. I never thought much about my money mindset either until I started following a budget and trying to make better choices with how I spent my money. I never really thought I was a mindless or an emotional spender until I paid attention.