3 Signs You’re Living With A Poverty Mindset

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People lined up outside bank during Great Depression.

Are you treating money like you’re living in the Great Depression?

I recently came to a huge realization about my finances. Although I run my own business and am more than OK financially, I still treated money as if I was a scared 22 year old who couldn’t find a job.

Instead of spending money to make my life easier, I found myself really uncomfortable when facing situations like these. And I’m hardly the only one with this mindset.


When it comes to money, our mind has a lot more control than we give it credit for. In fact, many argue that your financial circumstances result, at least in part, from what you believe. Living with a poverty mindset when you don’t need to, as I was, can make life tougher for you.

A poverty mindset means you believe that there’s essentially a limited amount of money to go around. This presents itself in different ways for different people. Below are some symptoms of a poverty mindset—as well as options to overcome them.

You Treat Money As If It’s The Great Depression

During the Great Depression, people hoarded their money rather than spending it out of fear. Because I graduated from college during the Great Recession and couldn’t find a job (our generation’s Great Depression), I clung tightly to my money, too—even to this day.

This made it harder for me to do sales calls, find leads, and ultimately, brought me to the verge of burnout. For instance, I needed an assistant but didn’t want to spend for one. Finally, I gave in. A few months later, and I’m happy to say that the help has been worth every penny.

The trick here was viewing an assistant as an “investment,” not an “expense.” Look at what you’re refusing to part with your money for. Is it something valuable that could help you? If so, be OK with loosening your grip on your wallet just a bit.

You Avoid Your Finances Altogether

Perhaps the most common form of poverty mindset is avoiding looking at your finances altogether. This is a different type of fear—being too afraid to even find out what kind of a mess your financial life is.

So, we avoid it. We live in denial. And, ultimately, we keep buying stuff we don’t need. The only way to break this cycle is to begin paying attention. Treat your money with respect, and it will respect you in return.

You Think There’s A Cap On How Much You Can Make

If you’re vying for a raise or looking to increase prices for your business, a poverty mindset may make you question whether you’re capable of reaching that next level.

The reality is that, regardless of your situation, there’s no cap on how much money you can make. However, if you believe resources are limited, then inevitably, that is what you will get. So, remember: No one can decide how much money you can make except you.

The One Tool To Banish Poverty Mindset

One powerful tool you can use to overcome a poverty mindset is to track every form of abundance that comes your way each day—regardless of where it came from. Count it, and be thankful for it.

This includes paychecks, gifts, money you found at the bottom of your purse, etc. Even if it’s not a lot, by doing this, you will still start training your brain into thinking that you at least have money around you. And as the old saying goes, what we focus on expands.

Have you overcome negative thoughts about money? Tell us what worked for you. 

(Photo: Wikimedia)

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