I originally titled this post “How to Survive Being Broke.” That’s exactly what it felt like after we got married. If that’s where you are, I totally get it. Month to month, paycheck to paycheck. Your brain is as negative as your bank.
Or is it? What if it’s really the other way around?
Your bank is as negative as your brain. What if we changed our perspective?
I get it. There are some circumstances that are unavoidable. A robbery, a medical emergency, new pregnancy, government junk, lost job, broken home…
But that’s exactly why you should not let money define you! Make money work for you, not the other way around.
Wealth comes from your heart, not your wallet.
In other words:
Having lots of money doesn’t make you rich. Having very little money doesn’t make you poor. Who you are is up to you.
I won’t guarantee quick funds tomorrow. But if you want to live with less anxiety, escape poverty mindset, and be productive on a daily basis–these 7 shifts in mindset are VITAL!
Be warned: I’m going to tell it like it is. Truth should never be watered down.
Dream and Set Goals
When was the last time you had a dream or goal for your life?
And I don’t mean little things like, “I’ll get the dishes done regularly,” or “Getting to bed on time,” or “Having coffee date once a week.” Those are important goals to have, but they are not LIFE goals.
Related: Seeing Jesus in the Mundane
I mean goals that will matter to you when you’re 80 years old. I mean goals so real that you walk with your head up high as if you already have it.
“I am a successful writer.” THAT is a goal. Not, “I wish I was a successful writer… if only [fill the blank].
No. I AM a writer. Right now. Today.
Who are you?
What this looks like
- Set little goals to improve, no matter how small. Want to exercise every day? Decide you’ll exercise for 1 minute every day. Grow from there. Life is a journey, not a microwave.
- Teach your kids (and yourself!) how to dream again. Tell stories of famous broke people. Read the Bible and believe God’s promises. Imagine the impossible.
- Prepare your field for rain. Want God to hand you $10,000? Educate yourself to be able to handle that much money wisely. That’s real faith in action.
- Walk with God through life. He’s there with you every step, guiding you and teaching you. He doesn’t want to just give you a fish. He’s teaching you how to get your own fish.
- Know your potential. Test your limits. Ask yourself what you’ve believed was impossible. Didn’t think you could read a book in a month? Well… why not? Challenge yourself! You don’t know for sure until you try. Like that one song says, “I won’t give up, no I won’t give in… Try everything!”
Problem-solve Using Creativity
My parents used to get onto us about dishes. “Do the dishes! Do them every day, at every meal. Keep that counter spotless! Just do it!”
“Just do it” never works. But I don’t think I need to tell you that–or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. Here’s why “just do it” never worked for us growing up:
First, we had no dishwasher.
Second, there were 6 people in the house and dishes piled up quickly.
Third, Mom hoarded enough dishes to feed an army–especially coffee cups.
Finally, we were overworked. Mountains of schoolwork, feeding ourselves (all the shopping, meal planning, and cooking for every meal), cleaning the entire house, doing all the laundry, caring for the pets (a dog, Mom’s 2 cats, a bird, and our own pets), helping out with Dad’s work at the church (which had like 3 people in it. He didn’t have a regular job), AND “helping” Mom with all her hobbies because she had too many to take care of by herself.
Needless to say, dishes and chores used to be a huge stress for me after I moved out and married my husband. But then I realized that I was in charge now!
I chose instead to “cheat” the system: problem solve with creativity.
I sold or stored away most of the dishes. They can’t stress me out if I don’t have them! I only kept enough for a day or two of dishes. That way, no matter how long I procrastinate doing them, they’ll never pile up beyond what I am able to handle. Besides, with our tiny apartment counters, we did not have room for many dishes.
I also told my husband, “Either help me with dishes or buy me plastic. It’s your choice.” That’s the rule and I LOVE IT!
Related: How to Speak My Love Language
I’ve found that every house problem can be solved with a little creativity. My husband has a habit of leaving stuff everywhere. Instead of getting onto him about it, I rearranged the house to suit his preferred habits better.
See your family’s “mess” as communication that something’s not quite designed right. Fix the design to work better. It’s that simple.
Creativity is HOPE. It feels so good! “Things CAN be better. And I’m going to find out how.” I don’t have to live under guilt and pressure to just “try harder.”
What this looks like
- Problem-solve messes and frustrations using your unique creativity. Involve the whole family! Keep trying until something works. Think crazy! Organize, rearrange, or toss stuff (like dishes! haha).
- Find cheaper ways of enjoying the things you love. If you can’t afford Starbucks every day, buy yourself a coffee grinder and make fancy coffee at home. If you can’t afford the movies, rent Redbox. “Fun” comes from people, not things. Nostalgia comes from feeling loved, not having money.
- Listen to other people’s ideas for inspiration. People think I’m so smart. I’m not–I probably just found it on Pinterest. I Google literally EVERYTHING. Search everywhere: ask advice in Facebook Groups, watch Youtube, search Pinterest, read blogs, take free courses. Learn as much as you can! Don’t be isolated. The internet community is there to help!
Get Rid of Poverty Mentality
Poverty Mentality is simply believing the lie that you’re stuck where you’re at. Worse still, it makes sure that you stay that way. You don’t realize it, but you constantly throw away every God-given opportunity to grow and produce fruit.
Does any of this sound familiar?
- Only see what you don’t have.
- Automatically think you can’t afford anything. It’s second nature now.
- Live the exact same day over and over again–fighting just to survive.
- Always blame circumstances, your own weakness, or other people
- Believe nothing is going to change
- Nervous or jealous of rich people. Maybe even mad at them.
- Think you can’t handle the responsibility of riches
- Constantly struggle to scrape by, even when caring for yourself
- Have to save everything you can and don’t ever have extra, even for needs
- Getting money and opportunity is risky and you’d rather play it “safe”
- Never dream of a future or even think of time passing or progressing forwards
- Trying to live in a perfect world where you don’t need to change anything. You’ll stay this way until you die.
- There are many things you wish you could have but immediately dismiss as impossible. Your dreams are just wishful thinking.
- Hoard old memories and don’t actively seek to make new ones
- Still waiting for circumstances to magically change suddenly
- Afraid of failure and don’t take risks or make exciting new goals
- Feel powerless and often struggle to stay happy
- Have low confidence
- Love others but don’t love yourself and constantly put yourself down
The lie of Poverty Mentality is that “survival mode” keeps you humble, spiritual, responsible. That it takes care of you and your family. That its a safeguard because having anything good in this life might corrupt you. That life is too dangerous and there are many things that must be avoided.
It’s a LIE. It actually does the exact opposite. It wastes, it destroys, it kills.
That’s why Jesus warned, “It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth: this defiles a person… What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart,” (Matt. 15:10-20 ESV).
It sets Death as the god of your home. You work and strive to keep it appeased through endless fear, rules, and slavery. “The world is a dangerous place! Death is around every corner. Enjoying stuff might cause you to lose your soul to it! Beware riches! Beware love and affection! Beware complete freedom to be yourself!”
Poverty Mentality is Death! If you’re perpetually stuck in “survival mode,” don’t waste your time. You’re already dead–and everything you produce will be dead also.
Poverty Mentality isn’t about just your finances. It touches EVERY part of your life–everything from what you think, what you say, to what you do.
You stay poor because you choose to be poor. Unknowingly, it has become your identity. Your god.
The mythical “but everything will work out suddenly” doesn’t exist. It’s a trap to keep you there. To Christians, sometimes that sounds like “God’s going to provide.” Yes, he does provide a fish every now and then. But he prefers to provide the wisdom you need to catch the fish yourself.
When you’re trapped in Poverty Mentality, you just want the free fish for eternity. You’ll never actually learn how to fish for yourself.
What this looks like
The way out is to take confidence in the power of Jesus’ sacrifice. He died so you could live. SO LIVE! Live life, enjoy things, be rich.
Be truly rich: in action, in blessing others, in love, in kind words, in wisdom, in knowledge, in understanding, in listening, in faith, in power, and…. yes, in money too perhaps.
Just be everything you can possibly be! Take what God has given you and INVEST it. See just how far it will go. Don’t stop until you reach the limits! You’ll be surprised to find that there are none.
Invest in your future, your body, your marriage, your tongue, your mind. Invest in your family. And invest in your finances.
Set GOALS for yourself so REAL that you hold your head up high and walk as if you already have them. No more wishful thinking. No more “but I can’t.”
Why can’t you? Ask yourself that just this once: WHY. NOT.
Set Your Priorities Straight
I used to ignore when people said, “If you don’t do it, then it’s just not a priority! If it was important, you’d MAKE the time.”
I immediately think, “But I can’t give to every orphan on the planet. It’s not about importance. I just have limited resources. Try as I might, I could never fit everything ‘important’ into my day. I’m not Superman.”
That is not a reason to ignore it though! That actually enforces it all the more.
Think about it: you DO have limited resources. A day is only 24 hours and you have to spend it wisely. You CAN’T fit it all in. That means that what you DO place at the top of the list has to be f—ing insanely important!! (sorry, I needed the extra emphasis).
Having limited resources means you have no excuse.
It dawned on me one day that I’ve only heard people say “Make the time!” when referring to ministry, volunteering, or maybe going to your son’s basketball game. But it runs SO MUCH deeper than that.
I looked around my home. I recalled all my daily habits these past few years. I even looked at how my family treats me and treats each other–the culture I’ve helped form. The atmosphere. The “normal.”
I took a hard look at my limited little kingdom…
I did this. I DID THIS. This is what is most important to me. This is what I spent my limited resources on. This how I’ve built my kingdom.
What if someone were to judge my priorities by the contents of my house? Or by my daily habits and words?
The thought stabbed my soul. I didn’t like it. Not one bit.
Because what I saw in my house and my actions was that NOTHING was important to me. I had nothing to show that I really cared about anything.
That was going to change. Right here. Right now.
What this looks like
- Ask yourself what your daily routine is. Ask yourself what’s most important to you.
- Toss the junk drawer and random stuff you don’t use. Prioritize. If books are a priority, hide the remote. If exercise is a priority, shove the couch aside. Don’t just say you’ll commit–show it with your home.
- If you want to change your life, start by changing your life.
- Think of your house as literally your brain–because it is! It’s what you see most of the time, therefore guiding what you think and feel. How it is arranged guides everything you do. If you want your mind to change, change your surroundings to reflect that. The home atmosphere is VITAL!
Reduce Stress and Get Inner Healing
If my past self were to read this, I would have still thought, “I can’t. It’s impossible for me. I HAVE been trying. I’ve been failing.”
It was absolutely true: I couldn’t do this. Any of it. And now I understand why.
Ask yourself: what is really holding you back? What is that wall you keep running into?
For me, it was trauma from having been neglected, isolated, and abused as a child. Before I could start being alive, I had to get help to heal those deep wounds.
You can’t run with a broken leg. You can’t live with a broken soul.
It’s not your circumstances, your family, your losses. It’s not your kids, your personality, your fate. Stop hiding the truth. Stop lying to yourself. It’s not helping you or anyone “survive.” It’s killing everything.
What do you REALLY feel? You’ve been hiding it so long, you’ve forgotten. You have no idea what’s locked in that deep vault. All you know is that it’s ugly, violent, terrifying.
THAT is what’s been killing you on the inside, weighing you down, keeping you powerless. Don’t you want it out? You can. You absolutely can!
Christians: I know what you’re thinking. “GASP! If I let it out I’ll–Oh the horror!–do something… sinful!”
That’s not how this works. Remember what Jesus said? It’s from the heart that you’re corrupted, not from your actions. Actions expose the sin that’s already been committed in the heart (Matt 15:18). Jesus also explained that in detail in Matthew 6-7.
So relax! You’re not sinning if you’re doing it to repent, to expose. It won’t harm anyone if you’re doing it in a safe place.
The safest place your heart can be is with God. In God’s eyes, you can’t sin any more than you already have in your heart. Hiding sin doesn’t make you any less of a sinner. It makes you a hypocrite.
Exposure is the first step to healing. That’s what “repentance” means: admitting, exposing, then healing. That’s the opportunity Jesus died to give you!
Let it out in a safe environment with people who will love you no matter what’s inside you. Is your own home not a safe environment? Are you not free to show what’s really down deep within you? Is there no love there to help heal you?
Related: 10 Tricks I Use to Beat My Anxiety
“Stress” is 99% just a “leaky pipe.” Emotions are being blocked, so they build up pressure and then leak out in steaming fury anywhere they can. The solution is not to just patch the leak but to unclog the pipe. Let it out. Get healing.
Emotions themselves are not sinful. They’re merely the nervous system of the soul. When you get cut, you hurt. The same is true for your heart.
Respect your emotions! Trust them. They are there for a reason. Once you and Jesus DEAL WITH the root cause, then you will be whole again.
That’s the key to reducing stress: get rid of its source within you.
The only way any of this is possible is through Jesus. He can heal every wound, every pain, every sin. You’re SAFE with Him. Expose your deepest, darkest secrets to Him. Admit how you really feel. Admit your weakness, your wounds. Let Him heal them.
This is why so many people leave the church and abandon God. They’re just trying to let loose, to heal, to be themselves. It feels amazing! They’d die without it. It’s so sad that no one in the church ever told them that they’re safe to be themselves around Jesus, who has the power to not only hear their heart but heal it.
What this looks like
- Get inner healing! No matter what it takes!
- Feel everything. Don’t hide emotions. Deal with them. Heal. Grow.
- “This home is a safe place to fail.” Put that on your wall.
- Treat everyone with dignity and respect as you want to be treated. Everyone! Including the brand new little versions of you.
- Seriously–toss your stuff! It’s much easier to keep clean with less stuff
- Invest in yourself. Why not try a different morning routine? Or a more relaxing bedtime routine? Maybe invest in your skin with Avon. Maybe invest in your mind by reading (Scribd is awesome!!). The future you will feel so loved if you do.
- Get marriage counseling and parenting classes. Knowledge and wisdom prevent stress.
- Set priorities straight. Make commitments, for better or worse. Decide and stick with it.
Rule Your Kingdom Well
God has given you a kingdom. Everything within your power to change is the kingdom God gave you. That especially includes you and your house.
Christians call it “free will” and “made in God’s image.” I like using the term “kingdom” because it also comes with a sense of authority and responsibility. I have a duty to rule my kingdom well. And it just sounds like a lot of fun!!
You are in charge here. You decide what comes in and goes out. You judge what is good that can stay and what is bad that must go.
So how will you rule your kingdom?
I’d highly recommend starting by asking God to rule it with you. Ask him for wisdom and strength to rule it well, as Solomon did. Trust God with your kingdom as Hezekiah and David did.
Then go for it! Make decisions. Make failures. Make victories. Learn, grow, expand. Invest! Fight for your kingdom and the people within it who are depending on you. And most of all–have fun!
Related: Finish Your Writing Ideas
What this looks like
- Think about the atmosphere of your home and how you contribute to it
- Think about your words. Are you rich with good things and blessings?
- Think about your family. Can they trust you to lead?
- Think about your possessions, habits, words, actions. What if they were all evidence of your true priorities? What would you change about them?
- Think about your future. Set goals and fight for them.
- Think about your perspective on things in life. How can you change it to be more positive? Instead of “my baby is demanding and spoiled” how about “my baby trusts me to meet his needs and he is communicating them the only way he knows how.”
So… what will you do now?
- Dream and set goals
- Problem-solve using creativity
- Get rid of Poverty Mentality
- Set your priorities straight
- Reduce stress and get inner healing
- Rule your kingdom Well
Escaping poverty starts from within your heart and your home.
There are many things you can’t change, but you CAN change yourself. And YOU, my friend, are far more influential than you think!
Don’t waste this opportunity that cost Jesus his life to give you. Every second that you spend worshiping poverty is like spitting in the face of Him who gave you Himself so you could be rich. Stop wasting his sacrifice!
Don’t let life just happen to you. Don’t bury God’s precious gift to you in the ground. Invest it!
Live life on purpose–because you can.