Last week’s post on change being all about deciding to do it went over well enough that you guys even shared some really great stories about how you’ve used my ramblings to give you some direction. I’m THRILLED to read those types of comments. Some of you also asked me for some specific things where this mindset could be applied, so I thought I’d take today to tackle that idea through the idea of being “poor” (financially).
I talk to people nearly every day who are struggling to make ends meet. Financially, things are tight and there is often little hope of things getting any better. By their very situation, most would call them poor. I think that’s wrong. You may not have any money, but you are not necessarily poor. Poor is a state of mind. If you are short on cash, that doesn’t mean you’re poor. If you are behind on all your bills, that doesn’t mean you’re poor. If you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, that doesn’t mean you’re poor either. You’re only poor when you admit defeat, sit down and decide you are poor. This is a very serious (and bad) place to be. When you are poor, you stop believing in yourself. When you’re poor, you start looking at others and believing they are evil for having more than you do. When you’re poor, you decide the government (or the church, the community, your neighbor, etc.) owes you something because you’ve been wronged. In other words, poor is the decision to give up on succeeding financially. Rather than make this a political statement, which is something most people want to do because it is an easy out, I will say this: Jesus said the poor will always be around (Matthew 26:11), but it is up to you whether or not you decide to be one of them.
Before you post nasty comments and get all riled up, I am not making a statement for or against government assistance. If you are on unemployment, disability, WIC, food stamps or any other assistance programs, I am not upset with you and do not condemn you for getting this assistance. I’m also not asking you to tell me I am being insensitive and rude or claiming you “chose” to be without money. Don’t misinterpret me; that’s not where I’m going at all. I’m keenly aware that life happens and every one of us has the possibility of going completely broke before the day is over and my heart breaks for those who go through those struggles. That’s why I love being a financial counselor.
What I’m referring to is strictly a state of mind. You’ve been around people who never have enough money and blame other people for everything in the world that has happened to them. You’ve been around people who believe they are entitled to receive something simply because it is available to someone else. You’ve been around people who believe they deserve to live in a certain place, drive a certain car, go to a specific place on vacation, etc., etc. just because those places exist and other people get those things. That, to me, is the person who is poor.
The person who is rich, however, says to himself: “I really want to live in that neighborhood. I’m going to work really hard and make it happen.” He says, “I would love to take my family on a nice vacation next year, so I’m going to save up and make that happen.” He says, “my car is in rough shape; I’m going to start working a few extra hours of overtime each week so I can put some extra in the bank to replace the car when it dies.” See the difference? It is all about a mental decision to act one way or another. The poor person says, “I want this now so I’m going to finance it to the hilt and hope I can make the minimum payments.” The rich person says, “I’ll wait until I can pay for that and make due until then.” The poor person says, “I deserve it.” The rich person says, “I’ll earn it.”
Before you nod your head and give me a hearty “amen” or curse me and trash me in the comments, let me add one last thought: we’ve all been in the “mental shoes” of that poor person. At one time or another, we’ve all said how unfair something is and complained about not getting our way. But as the old adage goes, you may not have a lot of control over what happens to you, but you do have a lot of control over how you respond. I’ve read several books that discuss this idea and all of them come to the same conclusion. If you want to be rich, act like a rich person. If you want to be (stay) poor, act like a poor person.
Note: Like the post I wrote last week, this was as much for me as it is you. As we’re remodeling our house I’m seeing things I want – a woodworking shop, a new heat pump, someone to do all the painting for me. I could easily accomplish all of those things in the next week or two, financing every penny of it. Instead, we’re doing manual labor when it is 87 degrees in the house. I’m trying to find a place to put the tools I’ve been blessed to accumulate over the years. We’re saving for a new heat pump, hopefully to be installed in September or October, about the time we won’t need A/C anymore! But as each bead of sweat drips off my forehead or as I start to whine about not having my table saw at my immediate disposal, I remember that’s how a poor person would think. I want to be rich – how about you?