money beliefs

Our money beliefs are something we rarely consider and almost never talk about. So where do they come from? What we believe about money is born of our past experiences and can predict our actions in the future.  

In today’s podcast, Licensed Insolvency Trustee, Mary-Ann Marriot of Allan Marshall & Associates takes a deep dive into money beliefs. Where do these beliefs come from and how can we shift them. She also explores:

  • The top 3 money beliefs that get in the way of 
  • Resources for learning about money
  • How changing the word budget to spending plan can shift your thinking
  • The advantage of having 3 bank accounts 
  • What happens when people take the first step to reach out for help

Federally regulated, Licensed Insolvency Trustees are knowledgeable in all aspects of debt management. Whether you need help with your spending plan or need to file for Bankruptcy, you can be assured they will have your best interest in mind.

Wayne Kay  0:04  

Welcome to the Debt Matters podcast where we help Canadians find solutions to their debt with Licensed Insolvency Trustees from across Canada. I’m Wayne Kay and in today’s show we’re going to be discussing common money beliefs that put you into debt or bad financial status and how you can correct them. 

My guest today, Mary-Ann Marriot, from Allan Marshall & Associates with offices in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and a new office in Alberta. Mary-Ann thanks for being on the show.

Mary-Ann Marriott  0:34  

Well, it’s my pleasure, Wayne, I’m very excited about our topic today. 

Wayne Kay  0:38  

Oh, I am too. And I think this is something that we all need to learn and wish we’d learned many, many years ago. Money beliefs, where do they come from?

Mary-Ann Marriott  0:48  

Oh, well, that’s a loaded question right out of the gate. The simple answer to that is they come from our life experiences. And that can be anything from the way we were raised to certain events in our lives. And then if we talk about the way we were raised, well, then our parents’ beliefs come from their parents, which come from their parents. So they come from a long history of a whole lot of things happening to a whole lot of people.

Wayne Kay  1:21  

Yes, I was just giving you an opportunity to blame it all on our parents.

Mary-Ann Marriott  1:28  

It’s all our parents fault.

Wayne Kay  1:29  

Exactly. But those money beliefs, those are sometimes hard. And it’s really interesting when you get different couples together, and you’ve got totally different beliefs from each side. It can be quite a problem. Then all of a sudden, we’re trying to navigate all that’s going on in the world and life stuff as well. 

So I think that’s why this topic is so important. So if things are great, people aren’t listening as much. But when things go sideways, they’re searching for this show to find some help. What would you say is the number one reason that people experience financial hardship?

Mary-Ann Marriott  2:12  

You know, I gave that some thought. And there’s so many different reasons for different people in different circumstances. I think what I see more often than not, is lack of a plan or system.

And I’m going to combine that with being overly optimistic. Because if you think about it, if we’re overly optimistic, we just think things will be okay. And then we don’t really have to plan and do a lot to protect ourselves, per se. And where I see that, believe it or not, it’s in the higher income earners. That’s typically where that overly optimistic mindset comes in. But the lack of a plan system runs really across all income earners.

Wayne Kay  2:55  

And it was funny, as you mentioned, that I automatically thought back to when I was in my early 20s. And thinking about, Oh, I don’t have to worry, I’m gonna be a millionaire anyway. So it’s all fine. We just have grand dreams, I guess, but no plan to actually get there. And I don’t think I’m alone with that thought.

Mary-Ann Marriott  3:17  

No, I think you’ve hit a really key point. And if we look at this through the ages – the ages of a person, not the world of ages/ When you’re young – all the things we wish we had done in hindsight. But when you’re young, and you have your whole future ahead of you, who thinks about retirement? That’s not something you consider. Where all of us would be if we started a retirement fund with that first job and, and kept that throughout our lives. 

So a lot of those decisions are made when we’re younger, and then you get into life. You have kids and a mortgage and car payments, and so we just kind of happen into it really.

Wayne Kay  3:57  

Yes. And then oftentimes, we’re scrambling to learn after the fact. So let’s dive into that. What would you say are the top three money beliefs people have that really get in the way?

Unknown Speaker  4:09  

Yes, and again, so many. But of the three that I chose, the first one is that money is scarce. And, you know, I think we see that a lot, just that scarcity mentality around money. 

The second one is you need money to make money. And there’s a common theme with those two, in that they stop you from moving forward, from doing the things that you need to do to improve your financial situation. 

And then the third one that I chose is I’m not good with money. And this goes back to what you said at the start of this. We’re never really taught to deal with money. You know, we’re in the school system, where we weren’t taught how to budget or pay bills or do any of those things. We’re just kind of thrown out in the world and expected to figure it out. And honestly, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Wayne Kay  4:58  

Yes, absolutely. Why don’t we dive into each of those just a little bit more, because when you talk about money being scarce, I can understand that one, especially from when people were, you know, back in the 30s. And you know, our grandparents had that. Nowadays, it kind of surprises me. 

Mary-Ann Marriott  5:15  

Well, I love that you said that, because what I was going to say is that with the ‘money is scarce – where did these beliefs come from? I said, parents and grandparents and grandparents. If you look at historically, where we have come from, as a human race financially – the 30s, and the 40s, and depressions, and all of the things that occurred. Those beliefs were passed along to our parents. And so they taught us about money with those beliefs in their system, and even though they didn’t necessarily teach us those specific things, that does carry through. 

So I think there is a thread that is just carried through the ages. And then you kind of look at the world and media, the rich versus the poor, there’s this Keeping Up with the Joneses. You tend to see people who appear to be living the life of luxury. Now, you know, some of them, of course, are, but some aren’t. Some are just basically spending more money than they make. And then there’s just a spiraling effect of always feeling like you don’t have enough and you can’t do enough.

Wayne Kay  6:20  

How do you combat that?

Mary-Ann Marriott  6:23  

Well, honestly, we’re kind of going to flip over into more of the woo woo stuff that I like to talk about as well, which is getting into the mindset. But really, it’s starting to look at what you do have and what you’re grateful for. 

And one of the things that I always say is, we are such a rich nation. So let’s just look at us here in Canada. How can we think that money is scarce? Now, I do say that certainly recognizing that for some people, there are very real financial hardships, but just generally speaking, we have a roof over our heads, we have cars in the driveway, we have fridges full of food, we have running water, we have hot water.

When you just look at all of the basics that we have, we’re really very wealthy, but we lose sight of all that stuff. And we’re always looking for something more. So the answer to the question is, you start to be very grateful for what you have. And your mindset around money is scarce, starts to shift.

Wayne Kay  7:21  

I like woo woo.

Mary-Ann Marriott  7:24  


Wayne Kay  7:26  

Well, I think anything that helps us with this, if you’re battling that it can be. I guess it’s not really a bad thing, thinking that money is scarce, if you’re saving a lot.

Mary-Ann Marriott  7:37  

Yes, and that goes back to the first thing, which was a lack of a plan system. So if you think money is scarce, coming back – having a good money management system, a good budget, a good spending plan, and having a good savings component as part of that. 

A lot of times I see people have no savings at all, and they’re really struggling, and they’re feeling like there’s no safety or security, because they feel like they can’t save any money. Again, psychologically, simply putting $5 into a savings account per month can start to shift that thinking – where you start to see money accumulating and start to feel good about it. It starts to break that mindset. So very connected to that number one reason that people experience financial hardship. 

Wayne Kay  8:24  

Now, what about this other one that you mentioned? You need money to make money? I hear that one a lot.

Mary-Ann Marriott  8:29  

Yes. And again, does it help to have money to make money? Sure. Does it mean that you can’t make money without it? No, there’s story upon story upon story of people who have risen from the ashes and made something out of nothing. 

And I think what I would like to add on that topic is the free resources that we have. My goodness, if you want to learn anything, it is at your fingertips, you can learn so much. You can develop so many skills with books and online. Just everything, courses, platforms, anything you can get your hands on. There’s just a wealth of information out there. 

So really, it’s getting creative. And again, this one debilitates people, I don’t have money, therefore I can’t make money. So it could be in terms of investing, it could be starting a business, and it stops people before they even get started. So I encourage people to get creative and really think about ways that they can get that ball rolling, get some momentum, so that they can build whatever business wealth, whatever it is they’re looking for.

Wayne Kay  9:40 

Yes, that’s something I hear a lot. And so that’s perfect. I’m glad you shared that because a lot of times there’s people out there that really want to invest or help out as well and they’re there to help you but you need to find them. They’re not going to be searching for you walking through the mall saying Do you have any ideas? Can I help you make money? Right? Yes, it doesn’t work that way. But maybe you’ve got a little bit of time, and you’ve got the right ideas, and somebody will invest in that. So I love that. And then there’s the old battle of, I’m just not good with money.

Mary-Ann Marriott  10:14  

Yes, people think they need to have an accounting degree to manage their money. And again, it stops people in their tracks. And so they don’t do anything because they can’t do everything. My philosophy on that is, it doesn’t have to be a complicated system. When we think of budgets, we think of spreadsheets and calculators, and this complicated system. But I like to really simplify it for people. 

In fact, going back to that one reason people experience financial hardship. One of the most common mistakes that I see around people not being good with money is they have one bank account, and everything goes to that bank account. And they’re constantly watching it. If money’s tight, they’re constantly making sure that there’s enough money for the things coming out. If you spend even $2 more, you’re now getting hit with NSF fees. That’s a whole snowball effect going in the wrong direction. So simply having more than one bank account is one way to simplify your finances, and you don’t need an accounting degree to do it.

Wayne Kay  11:19  

We make things so complicated these days, everything’s hard. It’s unbelievable that with all the resources at our fingertips, it is even just to find something simple, like how to be happy is now super complex. So no real struggle, it’s not really that confusing that when it comes to budgeting and money, it would be a little bit scary as well for people. 

Can you give us a couple more tips when it comes to the B word, because after doing all these different podcasts and talking to all these Licensed Insolvency Trustees from across the country, every episode, I hear the B word, which is budget. Why is it so critical?

Mary-Ann Marriott  12:01  

You know, I don’t even use that word. I mean, I did say it here. But quite honestly, I avoid it when I’m talking. And I say instead ‘spending plan’ and I just want you to feel into the difference. When I say Wayne, why don’t you set up a budget? Wayne, why don’t you develop a spending plan, right? It just has a completely different field. 

Because a spending plan is simply a plan for how you’re going to spend your money. And a budget tends to say restrictions, I’m going to restrict myself, and I’m going to tell myself, I can’t have this. My favorite saying is you can afford anything, you just can’t afford everything. 

So a spending plan is where you decide I have this much money coming in. This is where it’s going to go, this is what’s important to me. And if you don’t like what you see, then you start taking some steps to change it. It’s not rocket science, there’s only two things you can do. You can increase your income, or you can decrease your expenses. Or you can do a combination of both. But at least it gives you a plan and a place to start.

Wayne Kay  13:00  

And as you said the word spending plan and you said budget, I felt the negative when you said budget. And then when you said spending plan, it was more Oh, I get to spend money. It was way more proactive.

Mary-Ann Marriott  13:14  

Yes, totally, totally, totally. I wish we could just get rid of the word budget except for businesses and budget and fiscal budget and leave them for that government. We should just have spending plans.

Wayne Kay  13:24  

Right. I realize it’s the first time I’ve actually heard that and talked about that. I think that’s a brilliant idea. Now, you said, Forget about just having one bank account, you want to have automatic withdrawals going into some kind of a savings account?

Mary-Ann Marriott  13:39  

Yes, I think you know, I’m a fan of three accounts. And you can do this in various ways. But ultimately, your paycheque goes into one account and all your automatic payments come out of there, plus, you pay your bills out of it. So basically, the money goes in, you say, Okay, I need $600 odd dollars, because that’s what is coming out automatically this pay period. So you leave $700 in there, because you need a buffer. 

And then you transfer over your savings automatically. So whatever you’re saving for, and the rest goes into a spending account. And I’m also a big fan of no fee bank accounts for spending accounts. Because there’s no fees, you can spend as much as you want. You don’t have to worry about it. And that way, you’re never watching that one account, you’ve left the money there. You know what’s coming out. You’re not in your bank account every day stressing out trying to figure out if you’re going to end up with an NSF fee.

Wayne Kay  14:29  

Brilliant. And these fees, yes. Especially when you don’t have a lot. And then all of a sudden you’re getting a little fee here, a $2 fee. I’ll spend $48 bucks on gas to find my bank so that I don’t get charged a withdrawal. Not that I ever have cash, but you know what I mean?  

I really am used to paying a $2 fee for that. Oh, that’s great. How about this? What advice do you have for the people who are listening who may be just afraid to talk to somebody about their financial problems and the mess that they’re in.

Mary-Ann Marriott  15:03  

Yes, the two phrases I hear most often from someone who’s spoken to me or someone or in our company or industry, I wish I’d come to you sooner. And this isn’t what I expected. When I asked them what they meant by ‘this isn’t what I expected’ – they said, you’re much nicer than I thought I thought you were going to be mean, or judge me or look at me poorly. 

So I always respond with, We’re here to help not to judge. You’re already having difficulties, we’re not going to make it worse. So I think really, the advice is, just talk to someone. It’s the hardest part, that’s really the hardest first step. But once you do, solutions can’t be found. If you don’t take the first step and talk about the problem. Once you put the problem on the table, solutions can be found without that – the problems just going to stay there forever.

Wayne Kay  15:52  

And then with a problem, the stress and sleepless nights and all of that, that we often hear that people go through until they finally make that call. And it’s wonderful that the Canadian government actually came up with the Licensed Insolvency Trustee plan where it’s all completely regulated, knowing that Canadians were going to have some financial troubles. And a lot of times it’s not even the fault of yourself, you haven’t done something. It’s maybe a job loss and illness, or something like that, can really derail you.

Mary-Ann Marriott  16:28  

Absolutely. We’re all a few $100 away from Bankruptcy, quite frankly, you know, we’re a few $1,000 I mean. All it takes is one or two major life events to happen. And you know, there we are, any one of us.

Wayne Kay  16:40  

That’s what they’re saying right now. They’ve actually looked at bank accounts, etc, and said, how close are most Canadians to actually having major financial trouble. It was actually quite startling. So I think people need to know that they’re not alone in this. And I think with that, what would your final advice be?

Mary-Ann Marriott  17:00  

Well, I think my final advice would be something I say to individuals all the time when they do come in and they’re filled with shame and grief and fear and all of that. Tell me where in the book of life it says that you have to get it right the first time – with your finances or anything. We’re really hard on ourselves with our finances. I mean, marriages don’t always work out the first time. Your career choice doesn’t always work out the first time. You don’t even always get it right the first time with your health. Finances are no different, life is a learning experience. The mistakes are where you learn the most. So embrace them, get some guidance and figure out what you need to do next.

Wayne Kay  17:37  

I love that. That is perfect advice and a great place to end the show for today. Wonderful information. Thank you very much for being here.

Mary-Ann Marriott  17:46  

You’re welcome. This was fun. I enjoyed it. Thank you Wayne,

Wayne Kay  17:49  

You got it. My guest today, Mary-Ann Marriot from Allan Marshall & Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with Allan Marshall and Associates, you can head to their website,

 And that is it for today’s Debt Matters podcast. Make sure you subscribe wherever you get your favorite podcasts from. And of course for more information, you can always check out Thanks very much for listening.

About Mary-Ann Marriot

Mary-Ann Marriot has been working in the insolvency field for over 25 years. She received her Chartered Insolvency & Restructuring Professional designation in 2005 and her Licensed Insolvency Trustee license in 2014.

Mary-Ann is passionate about helping people become financially literate. She feels honoured to be able to help individuals discover solutions to overwhelming situations and find peace-of-mind in their lives.

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