So you’re broke and you think it’s not fair, right?
And you can’t help but wonder why am I poor when everyone around you seems to be rich.
The thing is, being poor might not be fair but it is what it is, and only you can do something about it.
You can’t look to others to help you stop being poor, you are going to have to look inwards, at how you view your money.
How you spend it.
Oh, and those other people who seem to be rich?
They are probably living a lie, overspending and racking up debt.
So don’t believe everything you see.
And if they aren’t poor and really are rich, then feel happy for them and move on.
Your focus needs to be on you, so you can stop feeling poor and get back on track with your finances.
3 Reasons You Are Poor
When it comes down to it, there are generally only 3 main reasons why you are firmly in the poor people category.
And in fairness they are not about you doing the wrong thing.
1. You Were Born Into A Poor Family
Being born into a disadvantaged family, one where money is always an issue and there is never enough to go round, is, quite frankly, a lifelong disadvantage.
Being disadvantaged from an early age means you don’t get the benefit of financial knowledge, of good financial role models and perhaps even a college education.
Without these benefits, you are highly likely to suffer from the 3rd reason below as well.
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2. Tragedy Has Touched Your Life
When life is going according to plan, there are less curve balls that get thrown at you and kick you off a good money path.
Tragedies in life almost always derail you, sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently.
Tragedies such as accidents, serious medical problems, family bereavements.
They all take their toll on you both mentally and financially.
3. You Are Guilty Of Making Poor Financial Decisions
Okay, this is the one you were waiting for isn’t it?
Regardless of how life has treated you, this is the one you know you are responsible for.
And if you are unfortunate enough to have also suffered one of the other reasons above, making poor financial decisions just compounds the issues you face.
So you need to tackle the problem head on.
To answer the question “Why am I so poor?” for yourself and start working on changing the question to
“What can I do to save money this month?”
What It Feels Like To Be Poor
In comparison to many people in the world you are rich. Rich beyond measure.
You have a roof over your head, food in your stomach and shoes on your feet.
But I know you don’t compare yourself to those people who are truly poor.
No, you are falling into the trap of comparing yourself with others around you.
Others who may earn more than you or worse, may have more debt that you.
When you feel negative about your money situation it infects your whole life.
You view everything through the lens of affordability.
Or rather, through the lens of ‘can’t afford it’, and that makes for a really poor life, one with little positivity in it.
Not being able to make your credit card repayments, bouncing checks, running out of money way before you get paid.
All of these are what it feels like to be poor.
What Does Being Poor Really Mean?
When you are poor you have commitments that you cannot satisfy, you have debt that is going nowhere and likely getting bigger.
You have a poor quality of life because that feeling of being poor permeates throughout everything you do and don’t do.
And those feelings need to stop, right now.
You need to stop thinking you are one of the poor people and start taking action to change your situation.
And of course I hope you are going to let me help you do that.
Why Am I Poor – 5 Ways To Help You Stop Being Poor
1. Decide You’re Going To Fix Things
Sometimes, the whole thing of ‘why am I poor’, is more about how you view other people’s lives rather than your true financial situation.
How you think about and view things is critically important to both your actual finances and your mental well-being.
You need to decide, right now, that you are not only going to change how you view things, but you are going to do whatever is necessary to fix your finances.
This decision of yours is key to your success.
Don’t be half-hearted about it. Be determined.
If you want to stop being poor, you have to take action today, tomorrow and in the future.
Learn to love living within your means.
If you enjoy being frugal and saving money, you will love your new lifestyle and go from thinking you are poor and needing money to knowing you have enough.
Enough for your needs and your future.
2. Work Out Just How Poor You Really Are
Now you have made your decision, you need to know exactly what you are facing.
How poor you really are, how much debt you have that needs to be repaid.
Get out every bit of paperwork you have on your debts, credit card statements, loan repayment schedules, car finance schedules, student loans and add up exactly what you owe.
This final total figure could be a scary figure but you need to know it.
This is not the time to be putting your head in the sand and fingers in your ears.
3. Create A Living Budget
You know how much you owe in total.
Now you need to work out a plan to not only live every month but also pay back what you owe.
To do that, you need a living budget, one that enables you to live, stop feeling poor and pay off your debts.
To create your budget, you need to know how much money you have coming in each month and what your outgoings are.
There is a bit more to it than that though because of course, until recently you were overspending.
So you are going to have to tailor your new budget to both help you live within your means and pay back debt.
For clear and concise instructions on how to create a budget that will work for you, head over to my post on how to budget your money.
You’ll find all the information you need and a free downloadable budget template to help.
4. Cut Back On Spending
As part of creating your living budget and new way of living you are going to need to cut back on how much you spend each month.
Because not only do you need to stop overspending, you’ve got to start under-spending so that you have money in your budget to pay back your debt.
There are some quick wins you can make to cut back your spending and I am sure you know what they are already.
You might prefer not to cut back but needs must.
You have made the decision to stop being broke and you have to do things differently to make this a reality.
So quick wins such as;
- Cut back on restaurant meals
- Cut out paying for coffee (make your own instead)
- Slashing your entertainment budget (find free or cheap things to do)
- Have a new clothes ban
- Making and taking your own lunch to work
5. Make Saving & Debt Payoff A Priority
When you have debt or have been living paycheck to paycheck spending every spare penny, it’s not enough just to live within that paycheck now.
You need to spend less and save more.
You need savings in an emergency fund for, well emergencies.
You need money in sinking funds (I call them money pots because to me the money isn’t sinking) to cover your irregular and annual expected expenses.
You need to be thinking longer term than just the next paycheck.
You don’t want to be poor your whole life so think about the future you, the one who wants to retire at some point, to stop working before they are 75.
Making saving money one of your financial goals is key to your success.
Aim for a minimum of $1000 in your emergency fund for starters.
Your sinking funds should have regular money paid into them so you can use that money when you get an annual bill pop up.
You need to be paying into your retirement accounts.
6. Start A Side Hustle
Consider whether getting a 2nd job or a side hustle could help.
It’s not always easy to find another job, or one that fits around your current commitments.
But if your budget is tight and you want to speed things up, then a 2nd job will make a big difference.
You can throw all the extra money you earn into paying off your debt.
Think what an extra $200 a month would do for your debt repayments.
Related reading: The Best Work From Home Jobs When You Need Flexibility
12 Tips To Move From Why Am I Poor To Fixing Things
1. Plan Ahead
Planning is the cornerstone of living frugally.
When you don’t have the money then you must recognize that you do have the time so plan your time so you can clean your own house, make your own lunch, mow your lawn.
You may be working long hours but time is something right now that you do have whereas money is something you don’t.
If you use money to pay for someone else to do something for you then what you are actually doing is buying their time.
2. Meal Plan
Your grocery bill is a place you can make some big savings straight away.
There are many easy ways to save money in the kitchen but food is potentially your biggest win.
Meal planning helps you to use the ingredients you already have and plan your meals for the week so you do not get tempted to buy a takeaway or have a restaurant meal.
I encourage you to focus on cheap and easy meals which can be made quickly to stop you from giving in to the eating out urge on those nights when you feel extra tired.
3. Buy Cheaper Food Items
Your grocery budget is one of the few places where you can really cut costs right down when times are hard.
When you are broke you have so many bills that need paying that there can be very little left.
If you can focus on dirt cheap meals for a month or two then the savings you make may well help you stop feeling so broke.
In order to do that what you need is a master list of cheap foods to buy when broke that you can refer to and use to meal plan.
4. Unsubscribe From Emails
If you’re anything like me you will get a ton of emails every day that either you don’t read or don’t want.
Many of them are from your favorite stores trying to entice you into buying yet more stuff.
Spend 30 minutes and unsubscribe from as many as possible. And delete all your trash emails right now.
5. Use The 30 Day Rule
The 30 day rule is a simple way to reduce your impulse spending. It isn’t about deprivation or stopping you from spending any money.
It’s about giving some thought to what you intend to spend money on.
By applying the 30 day rule you identify something you want to buy but press pause for 30 days.
When you are new to frugal it’s a great way to give yourself breathing space to consider if spending that money fits within your budget and your financial goals.
If after 30 days you truly still want that item then absolutely go for it.
As long as you can afford it within your new budget.
6. Use Sinking Funds (Or Money Pots)
Appliances and the like eventually need replacing.
You know that so set aside money every month into a replacement appliance and big purchase fund.
Don’t put these purchases on finance and pay interest.
If you were going to pay finance of $100 a month, save $100 a month instead, ready for your next purchase.
7. Create Your Financial Goals
Financial goals are often the difference between being successful with your money and not.
Financial goals are your chance to sit down and think about what you want to achieve with and for your money.
8. Embrace Frugality
Being frugal for some people has very negative connotations. It’s like there is this ongoing battle of Frugal vs Cheap, and cheap keeps winning because no-one really understands frugal.
Being cheap says more about your personality than your bank balance.
Being frugal is about making ends meet in order to enjoy your life.
You are living below your means so you can live the life you want, not get into debt and feel secure about your money situation.
9. Buy Generic Grocery Brands
If you have traditionally bought premium or big brand products then you could halve your grocery bill or more if you switched overnight to the generic, own branded products on your grocery list.
Think about it.
10. Avoid Drive Thru’s
Can I just say no? Just no to drive thrus.
I’m not convinced you can even enjoy drive thru food, other than it takes your hunger pangs away.
You get to eat food in your car (not great), it’s not super hot (not great) and it’s invariably fast, processed food (also not great).
Do yourself a massive, money saving favor and ditch drive thru’s for good. Take a snack with you to help you last until you get home.
11. Don’t Eat Out
I get that having a restaurant meal is enjoyable, not just because the food is lovely but also because someone else is cooking.
But enjoyable when you know you can’t afford it? No.
If you stop eating out, think about how much money you will save.
Treat yourself to a healthy home-cooked meal instead and bank the savings.
12. Track Where Your Money Goes
Planning your budget and spending it can be two different things.
When every penny counts then you need to know that you are spending according to your budget.
If you spend $600 on groceries when you budgeted for $400 then you need to know this.
You need to know where your money is going.
Not just hope all is going to plan.
Recording what your spend every month is extremely eye-opening.
I spent how much on chocolate?!
Pull out all your receipts, your bank and credit card statements for the last calendar month and list everything you have spent into categories such as:
- Eating Out
- Haircuts and Beauty Treatments
- Don’t knows
Is everything as it should be? As you would want it to be? Are you happy with how much you spend on food? On eating out?
If you are overspending, here is your evidence of where your money is going.
Move From Why Am I Poor To Saving Money
Constantly thinking “why am I poor?” is not good for your soul or for getting things done.
You can change your money situation, if you start taking action today.
You won’t be rich tomorrow, but what you will be is one step closer to no longer being broke and one step further away from that poor mindset that has been holding you back.
Start working on the things you can control right now, like your grocery budget, what you get your credit card out for, tracking what you spend your money on.
Create your living budget, set up your sinking funds and start working on how you can stretch your money further so you can pay off your debt faster.
These posts will help you organize your finances and learn how to stretch your money that bit further: