6 Emotional Reasons You’re Poor

woman with cash savings money piggy bank

Sometimes being poor isn’t about what’s in your wallet so much as what’s in your head. Here are a few psychological and emotional reasons why you’re poor—and how to combat them to become financially secure once and for all.

1. You’re in denial. One reason a lot of poor people vote against their own interests is because they believe they’re “temporarily poor.” This can be good in the sense that they feel like they’ll get out of their rut, but it can also backfire in the sense of spending beyond one’s means because you assume you’ll be able to pay it off eventually, maybe, someday.

2. You have low self-esteem. Spending on big-ticket items to impress other people won’t actually improve your confidence, but it will ruin your credit.

3. You feel powerless. When you feel helpless, you’re not going to help yourself. If you can take even a little bit of control back—whether it’s by just opening a bill you’ve been ignoring or putting $20 in a savings account this weekend—you’ll begin to feel better.

4. You have no accountability. Sometimes bad things happen to good people: You have a decent job but got laid off, you were in an accident and can’t work for a while, etc. But often, people are irresponsible and get themselves into bad situations: Did you move to a new city before getting a job? Have you been putting off networking? Did you never bother getting a degree even though you had the chance? Until you take ownership of your role in your situation, you’ll never able to change it. Your life didn’t just happen to you. You made decisions. Own them.

5. You have no concept of delayed gratification. What makes you happy today—that vanilla latte, a new leather jacket, a tattoo, a tennis bracelet—may not matter to you tomorrow, next week, or in 10 years. Every time you want to blow money on something unnecessary that won’t enrich your life, ask: “Is this worth sacrificing retirement?”

6. You hitched your wagon to a dim star. Don’t let a partner’s bad habits drag you down. Remain financially independent, because, as Lady Gaga once pointed out, “Your career won’t wake up in the morning and say it doesn’t love you anymore.” Imagine if she hitched her whole life on Taylor Kinney’s income? Girl, please.

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