Why you need to be wary of the money 'manifesting' myth

December is traditionally a time of abundance, gluttony and merrymaking, but not this year: pandemic-fuelled furlough, redundancy or unemployment has meant that for many, there’s a lot less in the bank.

The rise in Universal Credit claimants tells its own story: over 2.4 million households have applied for it since the beginning of March.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that very few people are safe from financial upheaval.

Perhaps it’s not a surprise that, when money is tight, more people are selling services to ‘help’. Increasing numbers of psychics, tarot readers, counsellors, hypnotherapists and ‘healers’ – many propelled by social media – are popping up online, touting everything from classes on how to ‘heal your relationship with money’ to ‘abundance’ or ‘fast cash’, at a price. Get-rich-quick schemes gone digital.

Many of these revolve around the idea of manifestation (the term #manifestingmoney brings up more than £42,000 posts on Instagram). It’s a self-help buzzword du jour – the idea being that if you meditate long enough on something, you’ll get it.

Naturally, these types of ideas don’t take in factors such as race, education or class.

One such self-styled money manifesting expert is influencer and author Sarah Akwisombe who has been involved in a recent furore on social media around courses run through her No Bull Business School.

Akwisombe’s glossy social media presence, motivational patter and unashamed displays of wealth inspire thousands of women who want some of what she’s having – and are happy to pay her for access to it.

Or are they? Websites Women On Top and Refinery29 both ran stories detailing how ‘dozens’ of Akwisombe’s customers have demanded refunds, after feeling less than satisfied at what the woman – who claims to have made £1million in a year – was offering.

Akwisombe doesn’t have any formal qualifications in finance, business or therapy – nor does she pretend to. Yet she is legally allowed to sell her courses to anyone willing to buy them, because in the UK there is no regulation around financial coaching or mentoring.

She appears to have plenty of satisfied customers who speak of their increased confidence and freedom from limiting beliefs around money – if the testimonials on her website and comments on Twitter and Instagram are anything to go by. But then showing a glamorous life on social media doesn’t necessarily correlate with having shrewd financial acumen.

Stacey Sargison is a businesswoman who was on the brink of bankruptcy in March but has, she claims, now made six figures as well as clearing all her debt thanks to employing alternative financial expertise from books and podcasts.

Sargison says her story is a launchpad to help others make money, via online courses such as Manifesting by Numbers (£22.22) and her Money Masterclass (£44.44).

‘I mentor epic humans who wish to be seen and successful online,’ she says, although she is careful to make no guarantees about financial results.

Sargison believes anyone can come back from debt, unemployment and a confidence crisis.

‘The financial ability to make money is at the tips of our fingers at any given moment,’ she says. ‘Get excited that the phone in your hand and the free wifi in a local cafe has the ability to provide an income. I was there, so I’m speaking from experience.’

Customers seem to value a rags-to-riches narrative in their money mentors.

Laura Brown, who was once homeless, runs Intuitive Alchemy, a business purporting to help clients with money struggles, which she claims is worth six figures.

‘By combining my training as a cognitive behavioural coach, hypnotherapist, and counsellor, with my intuitive skills as an energy healer, natural psychic and medium, I have succeeded in placing all of my clients on the fast track to financial wellbeing and prosperity,’ she says.

Laura uses new age terminology such as ‘energetically cleanse’ and ‘prosperity frequency’ and speaks of clients being ‘prepared to do the work’.

‘I always say to the doubters to try it,’ she says.

But who, when they have financial problems, can bear to part with any money (Laura’s fees range from several hundred dollars upwards per month)?

Psychotherapist Audrey Stephenson warns against spending money when you are in fear.

‘Desperation doesn’t lead to great choices in almost anything,’ she says. ‘When we are scared, we don’t necessarily see clearly.’

Stephenson has her reservations about single session psychotherapy, but believes it would be more effective than paying the same amount of money to someone who promises abundance.

Stephenson also says she and others in her profession are not going to be the first port of call for anyone having financial problems.

‘They are going to look for a money guru,’ she explains, ‘someone who says “I can make you rich, I used to have a crappy job and now I’m a GAJILLIONAIRE!”‘

Stephenson agrees that mindset is important but warns against ‘thinking yourself rich… that idea can be dangerous’.

‘Knowing what you want, being courageous [enough] to ask for it, making a connection and then getting what you want? That’s powerful,’ she says. ‘That’s not positive thinking, that’s positive experiencing, based in reality.’

Like everyone else we spoke to for this story, Stephenson advocates for a deeper understanding behavioural patterns around money.

‘Which is why some money issues can be powerfully dealt with in therapy, because it’s grounded,’ she says.

Not all good advice comes with a hefty price tag. Charlotte Stone, 41, a Health Coach from south-east London has sought help from numerous financial experts – in the form of books.

Although she has always been employed, money was, she admits, a ‘weak spot’.

She credits The Wealth Chef by Ann Wilson with helping her pay off £5,000 in debt.

‘It made me question what I was buying; I didn’t need another black dress,’ says Stone. ‘I’d think “I’ve had a bad day, I want to buy something”.’

Stone devoured as many book as she could on money, including those by Jim Rohn and Darren Hardy. The beauty of books, she says, is that it’s a cheap education: ‘There are books out there for a few quid that can really help you.’

Money, specifically the lack of or loss of, causes untold amounts of shame and vulnerability. And where there’s shame and vulnerability there will be charlatans ready to make a quick buck as well as compassionate experts with the skills to help. It’s just a matter of working out who’s who.

Tips for having a better relationship with money that don’t cost anything

You don’t need to spend money to start saving money.

Try these simple steps instead.

Tips for improving your relationship with money:

  • Write down the material things you covet in a little book and if you still want any of them in a month, buy them. ‘A lot of people find they don’t even go back and look,’ says Audrey Stephenson. ‘People tend to spend a lot of money on things they genuinely feel they need and will genuinely make their lives better. A month later they’re like, who cares?’
  • Keep your purse neat and tidy: treating money and all of its accoutrements with respect puts you into a more responsible mind frame.
  • Check your bank balance every day, even if it’s agony. Facing reality is essential.
  • Know that you cannot ‘manifest’ money without doing anything tangible in order to change your circumstances. Equally consider your privilege – or lack of – when it comes to embarking on manifestations: not everyone starts off at the same place.
  • Understand that compulsive buying is essentially an unanswered need for deeper human connection. ‘As we start to have deeper connections, we buy less,’ says Stephenson.

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

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