When something is handed to you in life, you usually take it for granted and this argument especially holds true for money. Being poor can really suck. Money certainly won’t buy you happiness, but a lack of money will definitely make your life much less enjoyable than it needs to be. You go to work each day, come home exhausted and haven’t gained anything at the end of the month by doing it. That endless game can take its toll on the best of people.
If you are stuck in a never-ending cycle of poverty, you have two choices: accept your place in the world and deal with the hardships that come along with that OR do something to change your situation. Most people feel powerless to change their financial situation in life, but you truly don’t have to wait on your boss to give you a promotion or a big raise. It’s not up to your boss to change your life, it is up to you.
Let Your Problems Motivate You
Are you broke and struggling to pay for basic necessities each month? That’s great if you are! Do you dream of a lifestyle or material possessions that are way beyond your reach that it seems impossible that you’ll ever have them? If so, that’s wonderful! No, I’m not trying to be mean and poke fun at your financial situation. Trust me, I have been in those exact situations and even worse, so I know exactly how it feels. Financial struggles are horrible to deal with, especially when there seems to be no end in sight. However, those problems can light a fire inside of you that is very difficult to obtain in other ways.
I got married very young, less than two months after my 21st birthday. My new wife had an infant daughter from a previous relationship and neither of us had a college degree. Needless to say, poverty was a way of life for us for a long time. I wasn’t willing to accept it as being my way of life forever though. That determination plus the stress and physical exhaustion of working labor-intensive jobs and still being broke drove me to do something greater that almost seems impossible in hindsight.
I didn’t blame others for my situation. My own choices led me down a path that led me to the exact position I found myself in every day. That realization also gave me some powerful insight: I created my problems and only I can create something better instead. I came home from work and did writing on the computer. Over time I built websites and figured out ways to monetize them. Eventually my side hustle started making multiple times what my real job brought home and took a fraction of the effort, so I quit the last job I ever had in 2009 (it’s 2022 when I’m writing this post).
If I had never experienced being really poor, I wouldn’t have gained the determination and willpower that led me to create my own business from scratch in my spare time. If you don’t have that same fire inside of you that is screaming for more out of life, you need to find a way to get it. Money, a spouse, kids, vacations, or just time to relax and pursue what makes you happy – any of these and more things can possibly motivate you if they mean enough to you.
Figure out what is important to you and imagine what you want to happen in the future. Whatever you are imagining right now, you CAN achieve those things. You just have to want them enough to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and to utilize that motivation to energize yourself into action.
A Trained Way of Life & Fearing the Unknown
I was brought up being taught that college was the only path to a financially successful life. Then I flunked out of college twice because I wasn’t engaged or motivated by school, despite a love of learning new things. I essentially became the unspoken black sheep of the family and began to live a way of life unknown to everyone in my immediate or even extended families. In some ways, I had it easy because I grew up living the unknown instead of the “right” way of life, so I never developed a fear of the unknown in many ways. Being broke and supporting a family gave me the motivation to ditch my low paying job and work for myself.
Jobs are a centerpiece for your life and your life growing up. You get home from school and one or both parents aren’t there because they’re at work. You grow up and your literal survival depends on you clinging to a job as though it’s a piece of wood drifting in the middle of the ocean and you’re lost at sea. By the time you’re an adult, you know that your life is going to suffer if you don’t have a job.
This way of life has been engrained in all of us because it is true for most people. To attempt to step outside of that comfort zone of having a regular paycheck, you have to overcome your fear of the unknown. You don’t have to go all-in immediately, but you do have to find the courage to start taking baby steps in that direction to get started.
I do NOT advocate bad financial decisions though. If you will get evicted next month by quitting your job today, then the best decision for you right now is to remain at your job. However, if you want to quit your job eventually and can’t afford to be without it, you need to slowly but steadily use your free time to build up a replacement income for your job. This can be done a couple of hours a day after work and on weekends to give you time to experiment and grow a business or new career path.
This more cautious approach allows you to keep up with your financial responsibilities in your normal way. When you’re able to make more money from a side hustle with part time work than your full-time job, you’ll be much more confident to take the leap and solely focus on making a big change without the fear of major financial repercussions.
Career Changes & Education
If you want to work in a different industry or simply get a better job to get out of poverty, you can achieve those goals no matter the obstacles if you’re motivated enough to do it. Job requirements, even college degree requirements that you don’t meet, can be overcome with enough time and perseverance. Harness the energy of your current bad financial situation and use that as motivation to push you through the long nights or extra hours it will take to achieve your goals.
Before you dive into make your job dreams a reality, make sure there is actually a demand to have jobs filled. There’s nothing worse than spending time getting a degree only to then find out that your prospects of landing a good job are next to impossible. Once you know that your dreams offer excellent prospects for your future, you can begin to plan the steps you need to take to achieve those goals.
The bad news is that changing careers can take a lot of time. You basically reset yourself to your high school graduation if you go back to college. After school, you then take an entry level position and have to work your way up to your dream job in many industries. Ultimately, you need to ask yourself if it makes financial sense to do so. If you need a degree, will the debt from school outweigh the extra earnings you’ll see until your retirement age?
Start a Side Hustle
For most people, the easiest way to try something new with your career is to start a side hustle – basically a small business that doesn’t receive your full attention since you also work a job. Many of them can be started for very cheap or even no money. They can usually be built in your spare time with as much as little time as you have to offer on your schedule. Despite this extreme flexibility and ease, they can also make you a lot of money with a relatively small amount of time invested.
My college educated and successful parents are happy for me but still a bit disgusted by the fact that I can now make a couple times more than them each year with just 10-20 hours of work each week.
Coming up with a plan for your side hustle business and then putting that plan into action are the two most difficult parts, but if you can overcome those hurdles from sheer determination after living in poverty for years, like I did, it gets much easier. First figure out what your business will do and then figure out all of the minor details – what will you charge, what will it cost to open and operate the business, and what order things need to be done in to get started.
When your plan is ready. Executing it can be the tough. You’ll want everything to be perfect but chasing that perfection can take away a lot of time and money. Your goal in the beginning shouldn’t be perfection but instead simply taking action. If you have steps lined out that need to be accomplished to open your business, get started and scratch off items from the list on a regular basis until it’s done and you’re open for business. You can always go back later and examine your operation to take steps to make it better, but if you don’t ever begin you are guaranteed to fail, so action is key.
See our Side Hustle category of articles for much more information: Side Hustles.
Stay Motivated & Determined
Once you get a glimpse of success with achieving your goals, keep going! It can be easy to get distracted along the way and even forget about what motivated you into action in the first place, such as being broke. Once you get that fire lit inside of you to take action, take special notice of what exactly is motivating you, what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. Write it down somewhere to help you remember. If you ever feel unmotivated or stuck in the future, take a look at it again and light your fire to get moving again.
The adversity of being broke can be one of the strongest motivational tools in your life. Even a decade after you escape poverty, you can still remember what it was like and still get energy from those memories and feelings. You just have to take notice of this energy and harness it to improve your life to achieve your goals.