The “new poverty mentality on money“, as I’ve been calling it, effects more than just those on public assistance.
Everyone wants to be noticed sometimes, and our desire to be noticed, to be special, coupled with a surge of income can lead to splurging that will cause a person to live more frugally in the interim between pay periods. I have lived with this mindset for years. I got it when I was growing up and saw how my mom handled money. However, I’ve known people who have never been on public assistance but have the same mindset. It’s the poverty trap.
Now, maybe a person isn’t living a poverty stricken life, per se, but they might well be living paycheck to paycheck, even though they make a pretty decent wage. This is because, just like my family growing up, they spend everything when they get paid instead of saving and trying to strengthen their financial position. They spend and spend. And truth be told, the merchants love them for it, or at least they are glad that so many people are spending.
One need only see the countless “as seen on TV” things for sale, that we can live without, but are somehow enticed into buying, to see that materialism has a grasp our heartstrings and has emptied our pockets. Frugality is all but dead, and frivolity is speedily digging its grave. This is why so many are buried in debt. The man on the TV says it’s great and we deserve it, so we open our wallets and give him all he asks for. Of course, he’ll also do his best to make it sound like a deal, only 10 installments of $19.99. The trap is set, after all we can afford $19.99, right?
It comes down to a question of being special, or at least not left out. It comes down to caressing our pride and ego. Telling us that we deserve this, or we might be left out of that. Then come the credit cards, the payday loans, the bank loans, the lines of credit, the many ways we can “afford” it. We justify each purchase with the same arguments as the talking heads selling their wares. Debt and junk pile up, and we get poorer, even though we work so hard. We get angry and discontent, and can’t wait until the next paycheck, then we will start the process all over again.