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04.27.2020 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

Money Mind During COVID-19

Yes, I said money because it’s something that many of you don’t like to talk about—particularly in times likes these when we’re trying to stay focused on the health and safety of our families.

But. . . we must talk about money . . .

. . . because for most of us, our source of income has either been diminished or lost. Still, the bills keep coming.

Money has the power to hold us hostage—particularly when we find it slipping away.

When we are low on money, we tend to make more fear-based decisions simply because we’re now in survival mode.

Where Are You on the Money Spectrum?

In my book, The Pursuit of Time and Money, I explored people’s experience of money and where they land on the money spectrum from High-to-Moderate Scarcity through Moderate-to-High Abundance.

It’s important to know where you are on the spectrum because how you think about money dictates the actions you will take moving forward.

One of the surprising factors linked to this conversation between scarcity and abundance is the nuanced difference between High and Moderate Money Scarcity.

The easiest way to explain that difference is that both are grounded in a deep sense of responsibility. People who fall in the High Scarcity category, however, express more negative beliefs and emotions around money than those in the Moderate Scarcity category who express a more positive experience of money.

For purposes of this post, I’ll focus on a Moderate Scarcity Perspective because this is where many of us will tend to fall when under stress.

Moderate Money Scarcity Perspective

If you’re living from this perspective, your money narrative might sound something like this:

“I must work hard to earn. I must be responsible.”

This deep sense of responsibility is probably what’s gotten you where you are today. You work hard. You pay your bills. You provide for the needs of your family. You’re a solid leader or employee.

Even under the best circumstances, however, you have money concerns. You worry about your spending and may tend to be overly cautious about spending money on what you deem to be “frivolous” things.

For you, money requires effort. It’s a burden rather than a tool.

Under the extreme conditions of the pandemic, all of your worry and concerns will be magnified. Your sense of responsibility will be threatened.

You might, for example, experience a consistent barrage of negative thoughts that result in states of guilt, shame, increased fear, and an underlying sense of defeat.

The Path to Abundance

If any of this sounds familiar, don’t despair.

Changing money narratives is hard work because money scripts are embedded in our minds from a very early age.

If you’re committed to more than just surviving the crisis, you must shift your perspective.

Here are a few simple places you can start.

1. Explore Your Family Money Narrative

Before you can change the story, you first have to have awareness of the original story. I initially ask my clients two very specific questions:

  • What is the first thing you remember learning about money?
  • What do you now believe about money as a result of that experience?

Spend thirty minutes journaling responses to these two questions and notice what shows up. You should be able to nail down the money narratives that existed in your early childhood experience.

Write down that narrative in one complete sentence. This information is vital to your understanding of your own perspectives.

For example, in my own family, the mantra was, “That’s for rich people,” with an underlying suggestion that people of wealth were bad people.

2. Rewrite Your Own Money Narrative

People who live from a High Abundance perspective have a very different narrative:

“I have the ability to create the money I need. I can share my resources with others.”

By contrast, these people indicate expressions of satisfaction, happiness, peace, contentment, and joy.

Surprisingly enough, those expressions are rarely linked to how much money they actually have. High abundance is rooted more in mindset than it is linked to net worth. One can be wealthy and still be a prisoner to scarcity.

Note the main emphasis in this category is on the ability to create what is needed. There’s no room for fear in the abundance perspective because the individual is too busy looking beyond the current situation to what he/she needs to create in order to move forward.

This, my friends, is the difference between those who will come out better on the other side of the pandemic, and those who will merely survive and perhaps even be worse off.

A Scarcity Perspective Will Block Any and All Potential to Attract Money

You must change your money narrative and innovate new and better ways to generate capital. Change your mind, and you will change your money situation.

I implore you to sit down and write up a new money narrative. Just one sentence. It will initially feel like something you don’t believe to be true. Just write it down. Post it somewhere you can see it every single day.

When you get worried or scared or find yourself ready to make a fear-based decision, say it again and again.

Then, begin to take action, careful that your actions reflect the new—never the old—narrative.

3. Plan for the Emerging Future

I know it might sound crazy to plan for the future when we can’t imagine when or how this pandemic will impact us moving forward.

One thing is for sure. We will NOT be getting back to normal as so many of you are hoping. Things will be different. Our job is to do our part to ensure that this “new normal” is better than our prior existence.

This begins with your examining your own life, your own family, your own job/career.

What is the source of your fear right now? How much are you losing due to circumstances out of your control?

I recommend some serious reflection before you attempt an actual plan. Look for the patterns in your life. Those patterns will tell you exactly where you need to take action.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I need to let go of in order to adopt a new money narrative?
  • What do I need to do differently to create more financial stability in the future?
  • How can I balance my sense of responsibility with my willingness to create what I need?
  • What specific actions must I take to earn more and spend less?
  • How can I proactively access the external resources available to help me through this most critical time?

The money perspective you adopt now will define the rest of your life.

Some of you will survive, but nothing more. Others won’t make it at all. While it might seem odd to talk of money when lives are literally at stake, we must recognize that it will take money to generously support those in need on the other side of this pandemic.

In the new normal, there will be those in need, and they will be in far larger numbers than we’ve witnessed in the past, and there will be those able to solve our most pressing issues.

As we move slowly into this next phase of recovery, the question is, how can you position yourself to be part of the solution?


For up-to-date information on how others are handling the challenges of COVID-19, please listen to some special episodes of my podcast, The Other Side of Potential: https://sharonspano.com/podcast/.

If you’re stuck and would like to schedule a one-on-one call with me, please go to: https://go.oncehub.com/crisiscoach.

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. April 27, 2020