In a society where we’re conditioned to dislike ourselves, forever on the pursuit of better, thinner, taller, smarter, prettier… it’s not surprising that this information overload is translating to our bank balance.

When we’re constantly being plugged with marketing messaging designed to rob us of our dollars and our dignity, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy spending habits – with a lack of self love at the root. 

I spent my teens and early twenties plagued by low self esteem – and had a low bank balance to match. I’d bleed money at every opportunity, but I never really made the link between a lack of love for myself, and a lack of money. As I’ve grown into loving myself, I’ve noticed a distinct difference in my spending habits, ability to hang on to money, and my overall money mindset.

Here are seven ways a lack of self love could be crushing your financial confidence.

1. You spend to feel better

Bad day? Buy something. Got dumped? Buy something. Feel “fat”? Buy something. This became my recipe for happiness. In the heat of the moment, I was certain buying a new dress would take away the icky feeling of ugliness, loneliness or unworthiness – but of course it didn’t. All I’d gained was yet another item I wouldn’t wear, and I’d lost a good few hours of pay in the process.

This type of spending can be more unconscious than you think. You don’t have to be sobbing and sniffling around the store, wiping your tears away with your credit card. Often the underlying sadness is much more latent, which is how the accidental spending goes unnoticed for so long.

2. You self sabotage

Another sneaky habit that creeps in almost unnoticed – the self sabotage. It’s so unconscious you’ll hardly know it’s happening, but if you’ve ever found yourself making a savings plan or a budget and then blowing it two weeks in, you’re probably a pro self sabotager.

We ultimately feel unconfident in ourselves, which can lead to sabotage spending that we pass off as a mistake, or a necessary expense, or everything just being ‘so expensive’. We never feel like we have enough, but often its not that we don’t have enough, but we’re not allowing ourselves to feel like we do.

3. You buy things to impress or copy others

Ever gone out and bought an entire outfit because you saw it on someone else? Or gone and got your hair done a certain way because you wanted to look amazing for an event to make someone jealous?

Impressing others can cause huge leaks in your spending. Ultimately the elusive feeling of triumph over whoever you were trying to impress wears off pretty quickly, and all you’re left with is a big ol’ dent in your bank account.

4. You feel undeserving 

Another unconscious one that can have serious financial consequences. Often, when we lack self love, we struggle to make progress with saving because we feel undeserving. On a almost undetectable level, we see other people saving and budgeting and affording things we wish we could, but we can’t get a hold of any traction in our own financial lives because we don’t think it’s possible for us. 

5. You don’t know your worth

A lack of self love can also translate to a lack of confidence at work or in business. When you don’t love yourself, you don’t know your worth. If you don’t know your worth, employers and clients won’t either. This can mean lower salaries and lower rates, and therefore less dollars in your bank account.

6. You spend to change yourself 

When you’re exchanging money for products or services, those things should be carefully selected to benefit you long term, and move you closer to your version of your best self – not someone else’s. While we may think we want those knee high boots for ourselves, often, we want them to be someone we’re not. We’re spending to change ourselves, because we’re not happy with who we are.

The important to notice here is not what you’re spending on, but why you’re spending it. That’s not to say you can’t buy those knee high boots! But make sure you’re buying them for you, for who you truly are right now, not for someone you think you should become. 

7. You think confidence can be bought 

This links to the previous point, but if you think confidence can be bought, you’re wrong. I thought this for years. I thought that by spending money on things, I’d become confident, I’d become the person I wished I was. 

The truth is, a pair of boots or a hair colour or a notebook or even a workout plan won’t change who you are – and it shouldn’t, either. These things can add to all the fabulous things that already exist about you, yes. But don’t buy things thinking they’ll erase all your self perceived flaws, because they won’t. All they’ll erase is zeros on your bank balance. 

Overcoming a lack of self love

If you’re nodding your head to any of this, you’re probably thinking ‘when is she going to give us the answer on how to stop doing all this?!’. 

Unfortunately, self love is a long game, and in my experience, a lot of it comes with age. That said, actively unpacking your thought processes and being aware of your main sticking points can really help. If you’re into non-fiction reading, I really enjoyed the You Are a Badass books by Jen Sincero, and Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup for getting to know myself and my worth.