The first step in taking your life back from anything that holds sway over it is acknowledging that you are affected by it.
I’ve written about the New Poverty Mindset in general, and living with, and struggling with it in specific. Now it’s time we turn our attention to recovering from it. I use the term recovering because I see it in much the same way as recovering from substance abuse. You kick the habit so to speak, but the urge remains an ever present danger, especially in our society of instant gratification.
Acknowledging that I was affected by this mindset regarding my finances wasn’t easy, primarily because that put much of the blame of my fiscal position squarely upon my shoulders. Frankly, I didn’t care too much for that proposition, but it is hard to argue with facts, and the truth was staring me in the face payday after payday. I remember having a conversation with my wife about our income versus our standard of living. I wouldn’t say that we were rich, but we did have a comfortable income. Yet, somehow we never had money for anything. While friends were buying new cars, houses, and boats, we were struggling to pay the bills. Something seemed incredibly wrong with the situation.
We sat down and took a look at where our money was going. We found that we spent enough eating out to pay for two car payments. It turns out that it has been made exceedingly easy to do so as well. We both worked, and breakfast wasn’t often eaten due to sleeping as long as possible before we started the day, going home for lunch was out of the question for some unknown reason, and when we got off work neither of us felt like making dinner. That basically meant that we ate nearly every meal out. As you can imagine that starts to make the food bill rise rapidly, and rise it did. We spent more than I care to think about on eating fast food.
For us it basically amounted to lack of planning meals that held us down. We tried not to buy too many grand items, as we believed that to be wasteful, but we never anticipated something as necessary as food robbing us from moving forward. The truth is that is wasn’t really the food, it was convenience, and convenience comes at a steep price. By now some of my readers may be thinking, “yeah, and laziness”. Yes, there was a bit of laziness, but all you need is a bit to ruin things. There was also a severe deficiency in financial understanding.
People can pay bills their whole lives and never really know much about finances. People can buy houses, cars, boats, and many household niceties, and still never really understand how powerful a properly balanced budget can be to their forward movement in financial stability. What I failed to understand, even when I did grasp that I had a problem, is that I had been comparing my financial position to others who were in the same place. They bought and lost houses, cars, and boats. Their vice manifested differently than mine did, but we were in the same boat, if you’ll pardon the pun. We were the same after all. I would look at what they had and wish I could buy things like they could, but as it turned out, they weren’t any better off.
So it doesn’t matter if you have a convenience problem, a leisure chasing problem, or a problem with trying to keep up with the Joneses, if you are having money problems, it might just be that you have the New Poverty Mindset. Many will get it by different means than I did. I grew up poor on public assistance, and learned how to manage money in a financially dysfunctional situation, and so that’s what I write about. Just because your beginning is different doesn’t make the road different. I continue to fight against this Mindset that I’ve described even though I work hard, and live very differently now. It is my hope that through detailing my journey, that others may see their way out of this life sucking cycle too.