“You are getting laid off.”
One of the first thoughts that comes to mind is: “Um, I live paycheck-to-paycheck! I only have enough money for the next 10 days!”
I’ve been happily employed, unhappily employed, unemployed, and an entrepreneur. At various times, in all of those different phases, I have felt poor. I’ve been thinking about this post for months, and I have finally resolved to just write this post, even though I’m going to miss something. So that’s what the comments section is for!
Here are ten things I’ve done to feel less poor. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment.
- I buy razors from Costco. I get a package of 52 for around $35. Maybe $45, I can’t remember. They aren’t cool, robotic, electric, swivel-headed, but they do have 3 blades on each disposable razor. I used to have the cool ones, with replacement cartridges, but those were more expensive than this find. I shave maybe twice a week, which isn’t much, so this box lasts me forever. I get the right tool for the job, without feeling like I’m spending luxury prices.
- Buy a new (shirt, jeans, socks, etc.). It’s amazing how high quality, great fit clothing can make you feel “like a million bucks.” I’m not saying to swap out your entire wardrobe, but if you feel poor, and then dress in either really cheap clothes that don’t last long, or your old clothes that used to look good but are now faded, sagging, etc., you’ll only extend how you feel by how you look. For me, just getting nice, new socks, make a difference on how I feel. Instead of “I’m not worth it,” switch that around, and move on from feeling like all you deserve is stuff you really don’t want to be seen in public in.
- Fix that dumb thing that has been bugging you. Sometimes there’s a thing that is bugging us 24×7… perhaps it’s a chipped faceplate for a light switch (the fix is less than a dollar), or a wall that just needs to be repainted (for less than $30), or maybe even just washed! Instead of mentally moping about how you’ll do it when you can afford it, do it now, and treat yourself with respect.
- Re-evaluate expenses. I love walking in a store past the satellite TV company sales reps. They say “what do you do for TV?” When I respond that we don’t have TV, they don’t know what to say. Speechless. Don’t get me wrong, we watch plenty of shows, but we don’t subscribe to a monthly, other than our internet connection. Look at all of your monthly committments, and question which ones you really need. You might be surprised that you are spending $20/monthly here, or $80/monthly there, and not getting any value out of it. That can add up to hundreds and hundreds of dollars of money that could go towards your needs.
- Buy (and eat) healthier food. When I eat unhealthy, I feel it. Maybe it’s because I’m in my 40’s. Maybe it’s because my body is malnourished. Contrast that to days I eat really healthy. Feel great, more energy, etc. Instead of sitting around like a slug, feeling full and bloated and low-energy, I am anxious to get up and get out and work and/or enjoy. Sitting around gives you more time to think about all the stuff you don’t have, where getting out helps you slow down and enjoy the here and now. Is healthier more expensive? Kind of. But if you feel like it’s too expensive, than start a garden… even if it’s just in your living room.
- Change your idea of “fun” from expense-based to free (hiking, people watching, bird watching, etc.). What is your perfect idea of having fun? It probably includes spending money on a trip, a ticket, a meal. Those have been rewards… what if we change our idea of fun to be more of an experience that we can have without spending money? When I took my family on a trip last summer, the most amazing, fun places we stayed were campgrounds, not hotels with pools. The campgrounds allowed us to connect with nature and the community we were in. We socialized with others, and there’s one family we still have a relationship with.
- Stop pouring over the news and social media. This is a great place to compare your life and abilities with others… and many times it’s harmful. I love seeing what others are doing, and celebrating their accomplishments, but it’s easy to compare your seemingly dull everyday life with what they post, which is usually the highlights of their life. Why not go make your own highlights, away from the great comparison machine?
- Focus on paying down your debt and punching interest in the nose. Feel poor? Maybe you are. But you don’t have to be that way forever. I love listening to the success stories of people who call into Dave Ramsey’s show. They are laser focused on addressing the problem head-on, and determined to change their life. Stop ignoring your financial issues. Learn about them, figure out a plan, and work your plan.
- Pick up a revenue stream that empowers your earning potential. When I was writing 51 Alternatives to a New Job I decided to try something I had never done before. Long story short, I went out with my kids and we made about $40/hour painting house numbers on curbs. I had no idea that you could make that much money doing that. There are easily dozens and dozens of things like that you could do. Pick up dog poop in a neighbor’s yard…. not anything to brag about, for sure, but it could give you an extra $20. You don’t make that money sitting around watching shows.
- Be genuinely happy for others’ financial success, vacations, new purchases, upgrades, etc. I think it’s human nature to look at someone else’s fortunes and only be jealous because of the state of our misfortunes. Whether they earned it, inherited it, or even deserve it is not our concern. It’s not within our control. But how we react is. Can you celebrate their new house, or upgrade, or new shoes, or new job, or great haircut? If you can’t celebrate theirs, what makes you think you are going to enjoy yours, when it comes? Practice appreciation by appreciating, and when you get gain, you will appreciate your own stuff more.
Probably everyone on my blog feels financially poor to some degree or another. This list is my attempt to share some ideas and tactics on how to minimize those feelings. What are YOUR suggestions?