It’s no secret that Americans are in debt up to their eyeballs. And to what can we attribute this colossal “living beyond our means” phenomenon? I don’t think it’s because we’ve had so many emergencies. It’s because we don’t ever want to feel poor.
Poor is the feeling you get when faced with an invitation to join all of your rich co-workers for a chichi lunch — and you’ve got $8.43 to last until payday. It’s that feeling you get when you see a commercial for the coolest car on earth, and all you have is a 10-year-old clunker.
The worst response when feeling poor is to do the very thing that should prove you’re not: spend money. That might make the feeling go away for a while, but as soon as you realize you’ve just plunged yourself deeper into debt and made your situation worse, you’ll feel even poorer. I have a better idea. Stop feeling poor in the first place. Here are three surprising steps to follow.
COMMIT TO A CLEAN CAR: No matter how old, how scratched, how new, how leased or how ugly, if you keep your car sparkling clean inside and out, you won’t feel poor. Remove every coffee cup, every paper and every other item every time you leave the car. Wash it weekly. Make sure the windows are always spotless, the tires scrubbed and the chrome shiny. Do this, and you’ll feel like a million bucks.
CURB THE CLUTTER: I don’t care how clean your house may be, if you have clutter, it’s pulling you down. Clear your closets, drawers, cupboards, garage and counters of everything that you do not need or does not bring beauty to your life. Clean open spaces, tranquility and simplicity chase away the feeling of poverty. Clutter invites chaos, which leads to depression and feelings of deprivation.
TUCK A C-NOTE: I want you to a get a $100 bill. Fold it neatly, and tuck it into a secret place in your wallet. Do not tell anyone about this. Just like that, you are going to not feel poor. In fact, that C-note is going to make you feel prosperous, quite smart and not broke. You are not likely to spend it on a whim. In fact, you are not likely to spend it at all. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because breaking a $100 bill is a big deal. You wouldn’t do that for a hamburger and fries. You sure wouldn’t do that to impress the co-workers that you can afford to eat sushi with them instead of the bagged lunch you brought to work. And if you get caught in a true emergency, you’re covered.
If you can’t do a 100, start with a 20. Soon, trade it for a 50. Before you know it, you’ll have Benjamin in your pocket, hidden away where only you know.
Feeling poor is not a financial condition. It is a state of mind. And something you can change starting right now.
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 23 books, including her 2012 release, “7 Money Rules for Life.” You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.