When Kate Northrup was in her 20s, she did what a lot of people do: She spent too much money and got into credit card debt – $20,000 of it. She decided she didn’t want to continue living like that, so she made major changes. She increased her own earnings through network marketing (more on that below) and scaled back her spending so she was only splurging on the things that truly made her feel good.
Now, Northrup, who teaches money workshops, has written what she calls a “love story” about her relationship with money. Instead of focusing on calculators and interest rates, her book, “Money: A Love Story,” explores how to improve one’s feelings and attitude toward finances. “From my own experience working with women around their money, I found the missing ingredient for most of them is actually love,” Northrup says.
“The way we interact with something, the energy we have or emotion we have, will determine the results we get. Most people deal with money from a place of fear, anxiety or debt, and that doesn’t work as well as dealing with it from a place of love,” she adds.
[Read: How to Avoid Credit Card Debt.]
Today, she’s paid off all her debt and earns a decent income, thanks largely to her thriving network marketing business with USANA Health Sciences, a company that sells nutritional supplements and other health products. Network marketing involves creating a commission-based sales network, so you earn money not only when you sell a product, but when anyone on your team does. (Northrup does this work with her mother, the well-known doctor Christiane Northrup.)
“I’m in a much healthier, more aware place. I do make more money than I used to, but I think what’s more important is that I feel better about my financial situation. I know where everything is, how much I have and everyday I’m cultivating my relationship with my money,” Northrup says.
Ready to do the same? Northrup offers these pointers for anyone looking to improve their relationship with money.
“Just decide” to change.
Northrup admits this one sounds simple, but she says it works. “This morning, I was feeling grumpy about something, and my fiancé said, ‘Why don’t you just decide to be excited,’” Northrup says. So she did, and it worked. "The simplicity of making a decision to approach money in a different way can be very powerful,” Northrup adds.
[Read: How to Stop Overspending.]
Tell your money love story.
Northrup recommends picking up a pen and journal and writing down your history with money. When did you have debt? When did you learn an especially memorable financial lesson? Writing everything down can help you to “connect the dots” to see where your money attitudes and behaviors come from, Northrup says, and that can lead to a shift toward a different approach.
Even spending just half an hour on this exercise can make a big different, she says. “Women in my workshops get an ‘aha’ moment that shifted everything in five seconds,” Northrup says. “It doesn’t have to be hard.”
Use different words.
Northrup advocates replacing the word “bills” with “invoices for blessings already received” to evoke a greater sense of gratitude. “An attitude of gratitude makes us happier, and that’s really what we all want. … When we feel better, we can offer more value in the world, and earn more – it’s an upward spiral,” she says.
Cultivate a feeling of abundance.
A feeling of abundance, Northrup says, is what we’re all after, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. “To me, having a refrigerator full of healthy food feels really abundant, and I can get that for less than $100 at Whole Foods,” Northrup says. Other small shifts, such as carrying your money in a wallet that feels luxurious, can also help you feel more “prosperous and empowered.”
Hold regular money dates.
Reviewing finances on a regular basis with your partner (and on your own) doesn’t have to be tedious, Northrup insists. She does this herself in a routine she calls “financial freedom Fridays.” She calls the practice a “ritual of love.”