What are your money beliefs? We all have them, whether we realize it or not.

For example, I have a friend who believes money is a tool that helps him live a great life. My friend budgets for the things he needs, saves for the things he wants, and has no debt. He is planning an exotic vacation to a tropical island next year—and he refuses to buy coffee out because he makes good coffee at home for a lot less money.

Another friend makes a six-figure income. She believes she has no money. She has so much debt it keeps her awake at night, yet she shops for clothes and accessories every week.

I grew up with the belief that debt was bad, that buying something with credit was the lazy way to go. I also grew up believing everyone had debt. The result? My unconscious belief that I had no choice but to go into debt and that I was unsuccessful because I had debt.

Our money beliefs, internalized in childhood and rarely questioned, play out in our daily lives. Once I realized this, I started to look at my beliefs about money, question them, and change them.

Now I know that debt is a choice I don’t have to make.

I have internalized the belief that money is a tool I take care of and use correctly, so it can assist me in living the life I want to live.

I now use a budget. I don’t feel deprived, I feel challenged.

My husband and I are working toward financial freedom. I never thought such a thing was possible, now I know it’s only a matter of time.

A couple of Christmases ago I was headed out shopping on the morning of Christmas Eve. There were a few last minute gifts I had to get.  My husband was home and had looked at our checking account balance to see if a check he’d deposited had cleared. It hadn’t. He called to tell me we didn’t have the money in the account we thought we would.

“You’ll have to put the gifts on a credit card until it goes through,” he said.

I thought about it.

I wanted to put the gifts on the credit card. I wanted to have a special gift for each loved one that night and the next morning.

But I turned the car around and went home.

We’d made a commitment not to spend money we didn’t have and I didn’t want to break that commitment. I got creative with my gift giving that year but I also allowed myself to be the person without the perfect gift for everyone on my list.

What are your money beliefs? Are they serving you?