Poverty mindset?

Hubby and I were talking the other day. We are short on money until Friday when we get paid. We have money in savings, but it’s earmarked for our vacation over the summer. We have dipped into it a few times, but I’ve always repaid it. This time we were trying not to do that. But we decided that we wanted to go out to dinner anyway. We were going to use the last of our money, almost a week before getting paid, to go out to eat. We still need groceries, but we decided that those would come out of savings. We marveled that we do this all the time. When we run short of money, we sometimes just say F it and go spend money out of our savings account. We shouldn’t do it, but we almost decide that, well, we don’t have any money anyway, we know we’re going to have to dip into savings, so why not play a little?


Is this the poverty mindset? Is it really just a matter of saying, well, I don’t have much money anyway, so I might as well use what I have or what I can get on credit to have a few nice things? Why should I deny myself when trying to scrimp isn’t going to make any difference in my situation? There comes a point when debt feels crippling and there doesn’t seem any way out of it. Do you just sort of say, F it! I’m not getting out of debt anyway, and what’s a few more dollars, or even a couple hundred when I’m this far under? Maybe not. I just don’t know, but I feel like that could be part of it. I know that that’s how Hubby and I tend to get when we get short of money. Don’t get me wrong, we have been known to be very frugal and make that little bit of money stretch to the next paycheck, but just as often we get spendthrifty with it.


This is kind of akin to me planning and plotting how I’m going to spend my paychecks once the kids are out of Montessori. The prospect of a little money makes me a little crazy. Is it the same way for those in poverty? You get a little money finally and you just want to spend it. Whether or not you know you should save it or use it to pay bills, you just want to go out and finally have a little fun. Eventually you save it or use it wisely but, at first, the first want, is to use it for a little fun.


Poverty is a terrible thing, but it’s not the death of all wants. It is not the death of wanting to have fun and have some nice things. Nor should it be. But for many, poverty is a life sentence. And that sucks. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that everyone deserves dignity, respect, and compassion. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know anything about poverty. I have been fortunate in life. I had some ramen days, but nothing lasting. I am writing from a place of pure speculation. But it does seem to me that wanting the best for your kids and wanting to have at least a few nice things in your life is a pretty safe bet for most people. My definition of nice things and someone else’s might not be the same, though. And my priorities aren’t anyone else’s either, they are mine. Someone who has lived in poverty probably has different priorities from me. That’s cool. All I’m doing is speculating about the differences in how those with very little money, or those with crushing debt might feel about money. Please don’t skewer me for my ignorance, but I’m totally open to learning more if I’m totally off base.


This was just a passing conversation, but it stuck with me a little, especially in light of the fact that I knew I was going to go grocery shopping before we got paid and it would come out of savings. I actually bought more than I might have if we’d still had just a limited amount of money in the regular account. Huh.

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