So, what is money manifesting?
It’s becoming harder and harder to avoid the world of money manifestation. Essentially, it centres around the idea that anyone can make money if they visualise it. A bit like magic, or the power of positive thinking, depending on who you ask. Either way, it might mean manifesting a free cup of coffee or the house of your dreams – whatever the scale, more and more people who sit somewhere between influencers and life coaches are offering this as an easy (but expensive, ironically) solution to post-Covid financial troubles.
Much of money manifesting is drawn from the law of attraction, an old theory made famous by books like Napoleon Hill’s 1937 bestseller Think and Grow Rich (the Great Depression birthed a self-help boom) and Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, which has sold 30 million copies since its 2006 release. According to the law of attraction, or #LOA, if we reframe our energy and visualise positive outcomes, those outcomes will manifest themselves in the real world. This process of ‘raising our vibrations’ can be applied to anything but, in the wake of Covid, it’s been increasingly targeted at wealth or ‘abundance’.
‘Rich is a state of mind!’
Social media is flooded with posts about money manifesting. All of them target the pain points and vulnerabilities of the financially insecure. There are the ones promising $100,000 gifts from the universe – just waiting for you to reach out and grab them. Then there’s all the business advice and platitudes – ‘Rich is a state of mind’, ‘Sweat out = money in’ and so on – which are repeated across posts and accounts, with each account then commenting on others’ posts as a way to boost each’s popularity. But typically there’s not much that a quick search on Google or listicles of generic motivational quotes won’t tell you.
While money manifesting is coached by an older generation of self-help gurus like Chicken Soup for the Soul author Jack Canfield, it’s been taken up by a new generation of social media users, whose followings have ballooned since lockdowns last year. All of them seem to have one thing in common: they tend to be excellent at marketing and self-promotion. They also lean in hard in using their personal brand to build trust and intimacy with their audiences.
There are a few male manifesting influencers, such as YouTube and TikTok influencer Joe Hehn, but the fast-growing industry is mainly made up of women talking to a primarily female audience. They often offer a mix of pop psychology, girl-boss feminism and New Age-y spirituality – with their own personal success stories a big part of the pitch.
They include Australian ‘manifesting coach and intuitive healer’ Juliette Kristine, who claims to have manifested everything from round-the-world business-class flights to a wedding ring and an airy Gold Coast home, after abandoning a party-girl lifestyle and a failing product development business. Now a smiling vision of health and happiness, she says she has manifested more than $500,000 for her private coaching clients, who pay $3,300 each for six one-hour coaching sessions.
Many have big social media followings, like Aya Finsta, whose 710,000 TikTok followers come to their ‘manifesting mom’ for vaguely spiritual posts like one titled ‘How to manifest anything in 17 seconds’. Kathrin Zenkina, better known as Manifestation Babe to her 245,000 Instagram followers, sells courses like Tapping Into Massive Wealth on her millennial-pink website, with one Instagram video showing a Mercedes 4x4 that she manifested on a vision board, a popular law of attraction technique. ‘High vibe sister’ Taylor Simpson (122,000 followers) asks on her site: ‘Are you ready to tap into the frequency of money so you can attract all the abundance you desire, effortlessly? Hell yes you are.
One of the biggest of the new manifesting coaches is Dallas-based Amanda Frances, aka Money Queen, a ‘spiritual bosslady’, whose 440,000 Instagram followers see a lot of posts about handbags, God and unfiltered money love (her book is titled Rich As F*ck: More Money Than You Know What to Do With). Amanda’s website lists 24 courses, plus workshops and coaching opportunities – from the Aligned As F*ck bundle, a series of pre-recorded lessons that costs $777, to private coaching for $25,000 a month or The Mastermind, a ‘high-end life support group’ that costs $90,000 a year. Amanda Frances Inc also sells T-shirts, totes, crop tops and mugs with slogans like ‘I am so fucking worthy of money’. Her business turned over $3.6 million in 2019 and is presented on her site as proof of her methods.
Sounds good, right?
In theory, sure. Many of the websites feature lots of positive testimonials. For example, actor Nicole Porto claims that after doing Juliette Kristine’s signature Surrender Approach course ($596.40 for a mix of modules, videos, worksheets and guided meditations), she manifested an appearance on daytime talk show The Dr Oz Show, as well as free parking, a meeting with New Age guru Deepak Chopra and ‘free eyelashes for life’. Taban Shoresh, founder of the Lotus Flower charity supporting women impacted by conflict, tells Courier that she raised £200,000 to save her charity after doing a money manifesting course at the No Bull Business School (NBBS), run by London-based influencer and podcast host Sarah Akwisombe.
In fact, it sounds a bit too good…
The manifesting coaches rely on anecdotal evidence (especially their own) as proof of their methods. But there’s no peer-reviewed science linking techniques like the law of attraction to real-world results. Amy Morin, a New York-based psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, is one of many to argue against techniques like vision boards.
‘Studies have shown that focusing on the finishing line rather than the steps needed to get there actually decreases people's chances of reaching their goals,’ she says. ‘Thinking that the universe will give you a Ferrari is simply false and will bring you more anxiety than success.’
‘Many have spent more money than they can afford on manifesting courses promising that money will flow from the universe if they vibrate at the right frequency.’
Throwing money at the universe?
While coaches themselves are clearly making a success of money manifesting, it's less clear whether their course attendees are getting value for money.
Laura, a London-based film-maker who has asked to remain anonymous, had success with transformational coaching in the past, including the iEvolve course at London’s Concord Institute. So when her work dried up last April, she decided to pay £219 for a four-week money manifesting course at Sarah Akwisombe’s NBBS, which featured four hour-long classes with Jennifer Macfarlane, aka The Money Medium.
‘It was completely underwhelming,’ Laura says. ‘In the second class, we were encouraged to buy ourselves gifts like a new handbag, because acting like we had money would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the third, we had a guided meditation to a beach, where we were swimming towards a pot of gold. It was quite relaxing, but completely superficial, and we were constantly encouraged to build the hype online.’ Laura eventually asked for her money to be refunded, only to be refused.
Refinery29 and other media companies have published detailed reports about ‘dozens’ of other NBBS customers who also demanded refunds. But, according to Laura, ‘There has been no accountability or responsibility, and people felt incredibly let down.’ She adds that negative feedback from customers on the NBBS private Facebook page and other social media channels is ‘quickly deleted, and people are told that their negativity is the problem.’
NBBS declined to comment for this piece, but Kristine says there are often misunderstandings around money manifesting and the results it can bring. ‘Manifesting is actually a long process of opening yourself up. A lot of people just read The Secret and think they can ask for anything, but often they ask for things that are too far from them vibrationally,’ she says. And if things don’t work out for the customer for whatever reason, the lines of accountability are blurry. ‘If a customer comes with the belief that it won’t work, their reticular activating system will hold them back,’ she says, referring to the network of neurons in the brain that mediate behaviour.
Are there checks and balances?
In short, no. While a psychotherapist like Amy Morin has to go through six years in college and more than 1,000 hours under clinical supervision to get a therapy licence, there’s no such process for money manifesting coaches. Nor are money manifesting coaches limited by a code of ethics or even regulation. Morin also says there are many ‘fake certificates’ out there, which have been set up by other coaches.
British influencer Clare Seal, who runs the My Frugal Year blog and Instagram account (74,000 followers), argues that boards like the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and Advertising Standards Authority should be looking more closely at all financial advice on social platforms – including the growing number of influencers offering trading tips, especially on TikTok. She suggests enforcing proper rules on disclosure, including how much influencers are paid, and gambling-style disclaimers for anyone thinking of spending money on coaching.
My Frugal Year started as a previously anonymous honest and practical diary of Clare’s attempts to overcome £27,000 of debt while working as a social media manager. Whereas her journey to being almost debt-free has been a long and difficult process, she says that manifesting coaches are promising unrealistic outcomes, often to vulnerable people. ‘During lockdown, I’ve heard from people in my community saying they’ve lost all their income and will try anything,’ says Clare, who says her previous excess spending was partly fuelled by social media envy. ‘Many have spent more money than they can afford on manifesting courses promising that money will flow from the universe if they vibrate at the right frequency.’
Two years after revealing her identity, Clare says that any regulation should apply to her, too. ‘I feel this huge responsibility to my followers,’ she says. ‘But, ultimately, it’s up to me what I tell them. Some of the money manifesting ideas – like the fact that you should spend like you’re rich – are dangerous in themselves. That’s before we’re even talking about people spending money they can’t afford to lose.’
Approach with caution
With money manifestation coaching having such a low barrier to entry, Amy says it still has to be up to individuals to do their due diligence when considering paying for any kind of coaching. ‘Coaching can be really beneficial when it comes to money and success, and different approaches can work for different people, but you have to be careful,’ she says. ‘I’d ask any coach about the concrete steps and the firm actions they’ll take to get you to your goal. And if anyone is suggesting that the universe owes you money, I would steer well clear.’