Family debt is at an all time high since the 2008 mortgage crisis. It appears that the rise in student college debt is contributing to this increase. While our economy is based on sustainable borrowing to fuel jobs and growth, has US family debt gone too far?
How much debt are you carrying? Do you feel like you never have enough money?
I am by no means an economist, nor a financial planner, but it is concerning that the average US family is not generating enough income to support their lifestyle or expenses. Half of Americans are unable to come up with an extra $400 for an unexpected emergency.
Do you know where all your money going? Do you have a budget?
Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or discouraged by the lack of cash flow or the ability to pay your bills on time can perpetuate a self-defeating and scarcity mindset, with thoughts such as:
- I don’t have enough.
- I will never get ahead.
- Everyone else has more than I do.
I too have fallen on tough times when cash was incredibly tight, in fact so tight that I actually freaked out over a 10 cent library fine from an overdue book.
Many of us live with a scarcity mindset: the belief that there is not enough to go around. In Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change he writes:
Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.
The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production. The also have a a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.
When you focus on scarcity of resources, it becomes easier for you to be seduced by materialism causing you to consume products just because you fear that supplies will run out. In the end you buy more “stuff” that you don’t need and that doesn’t necessarily bring you happiness. Researchers have found that while the latest iPhone might bring you an initial high, money spent on experiences has greater long-term effects on your happiness.
What do you spend your money on: things or experiences?
Adapting a scarcity mindset can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your reticular activating system is a part of your brain that serves as a filter between your conscious mind and your subconscious. There is so much data out in the world that your brain simply cannot process it all. So to streamline, your brain filters out irrelevant information and selects only that which it thinks is important.
How does your mind know what is important? It is whatever you focus on the most. If you are constantly thinking that you don’t have enough money, then you will continually experience a lack of financial resources.
- How do you move out of a scarcity mindset and into an abundance mindset?
- How do shift your focus from what you lack to there is enough for all?
Here are some characteristics of an abundance mindset:
1. Be proactive.
Know that you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by financial obligations. By deciding to take action and implement a budget or plan, you are sending a strong message to yourself that you are not a victim of your circumstances. Taking concrete steps to reduce or consolidate debt and to increase your income will empower you with the feeling that you are in charge of your life.
- Who can you ask to help you? ( There are lots of nonprofit organizations to help manage debt)
- What plan or budget can you follow to stop creating new debt and start living within a realistic budget?
- What small steps can you take right now on your plan that will help you achieve your financial goals.
2. Become open to possibility.
When you have an abundance mentality, you establish a mental framework that allows you to be open to ways of creating new outcomes in your life. You are able to focus on what is working and what you can build upon. By considering possibilities, you get out of a restrictive mindset and are able to creatively solve your problems.
- Where are there possibilities in your life to increase your income?
- What assumptions are you making that might be limiting you and how can you challenge them?
- What thoughts, feelings, or actions would give you other choices?
3. Nurture your optimism
Optimism will provide you with the necessary fuel to overcome adversity. It provides you the feeling of hope that change is possible and likely. When you are optimistic you don’t become resentful of the success that others have because you know that your turn will come.
- What can you do to nurture your own optimistic outlook?
- What can you do to appreciate all that you do have?
- What are new ways of looking at your situation?
- What is currently working for you?
Change occurs inch by inch with small steps that are part of a larger plan. Value your earning power and your ability to build better habits that will support you in achieving your financial goals.