Is Your Mindset About Money Holding You Back?

by Don Smith

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The most valuable painting in the world, The Mona Lisa, was valued at 100 million dollars back in 1962. In today's dollars, that's nearly a billion dollars. While they've put a value on it for insurance purposes, it's not for sale. It's priceless.

It's a neat painting, but honestly, I'd have a tough time parting with a few hundred dollars to hang it in my house. I'm not a collector, and paintings aren't that important to me. Nor do I relish the idea of people lining up outside my house every day to see it, that sounds awful.

The Mona Lisa – Worth a Billion Dollars or $200?

Changing Your Mindset Towards Money

I might not get excited about the Mona Lisa when thinking of it as an expense for yet another decoration in my house. But if I change my mindset and look at it as an investment, that same $200 that I'd be willing to pay to hang it in my house seems like an absurd amount to offer considering how much I could make by selling it.

That's one of the most significant mindset differences between the wealthy and the poor. The poor look at everything as an expense, and they will remain penniless until they change that mindset. The wealthy look at spending money as either an expense or an investment.

Is a Car an Expense? Or an Investment?

A good example is a car. If I buy a new car, is it most likely to go up or down in value? That question tells me if it's an expense or an investment. We all know that most cars are going to go down in value, so those are normally categorized as an expense.

You'll sometimes see wealthy people collecting expensive vehicles. Sometimes those are just a luxury because they have tons of money, but oftentimes those are investments rather than expenses because, like the Mona Lisa, certain rare cars can go up in value.

Bugatti La Voiture Noire
Expense or Investment?

The Bugatti La Voiture Noire sold for 19 million dollars, for example, because there was only one ever made. In ten years, there's a good possibility it will sell for much more. The guy that bought it is likely to get all of his money back and then some if he ever decides to sell. That's an investment.

Your daily driver? It'll probably drop $10,000 in value as you drive it off the lot if you buy it new. That's an expense.

Is Coaching an Expense or an Investment?

How about coaching? I've had many people tell me that they can't afford my services even after we agree that they could easily add $10,000 or more to their income every year by me helping them make some career changes, a statement that always leaves me scratching my head. They are thinking of it merely as an expense, so aren't willing to make the sacrifices needed today to change tomorrow. Like those who avoid even community college even though the numbers clearly show that it is one of the best investments they can make, those people, sadly, will remain poor until they change their mindset.

The person who will eventually be wealthy will, of course, ask how much coaching costs, but they are also thinking about what return they will get on that investment. If their investment is several thousand dollars, but that gives them back tens of thousands of dollars by increasing their earning potential, it's an easy decision. That's not an expense; it's an investment.

Not All Returns Can Be Measured

Once someone has accumulated enough wealth, they often transcend thinking in terms of dollars and cents. Past a certain level, those numbers become meaningless, which is why you'll see people worth billions of dollars still working. Those are the people who are willing to pay millions and millions of dollars for something like the Mona Lisa because the numbers no longer matter.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is worth more than $110 billion at the time of this writing. Think about that for a moment. If he threw away a billion dollars every year, he could do that for the next 110 years. That's more than ten million dollars that he could burn every day for the rest of his lifetime. And he's still working.

At some point, it's no longer about the money. Most eventually realize that like the Mona Lisa, making a difference in the world, time, health, and relationships are all priceless treasures that all the money in the world can't buy. Sadly, many realize this far too late to change how they have lived their lives. That's the ultimate mindset shift, and one I hope you make sooner than later.

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

  1. Excellent post Don. Wealthy people think abundance; they see investments, and, return, because they trust they will get a return. Poor folks see loss, everything being an expense, and experience loss. All a mindset thing.


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