I am broke may be a saying that comes too often for you. Becoming wealthy, achieving financial success, living life on your own terms — these are all things that many of us want for ourselves when we think about our futures. The reality is many will never actually realize their dreams of becoming financially successful, but not because they can't.
Anyone with the right mindset and actions can make it happen. However, people behave in ways that don’t promote their financial success, often without even realizing it. They sabotage their financial futures, ensuring that they stay broke… pretty much forever.
It's important to understand that building wealth isn't about luck. It doesn't just happen to some people and not to others. Building wealth is about putting in hard work, planning, consistency, discipline, and accountability, and very importantly, maintaining good money management skills — regardless of your current financial situation or how much you currently earn.
There are thousands of success stories of people who came from the "I am broke" mentality and managed to achieve incredible financial success by changing their mindset and habits. But to break the cycle of being broke, you must be aware of the behaviors holding you back from building wealth in the first place.
Reason 1: You don’t have the right money mindset
You might have heard this before, but having the right mindset regarding your life and finances is essential for success. If you are always telling yourself, I am broke; your perspective will prevent you from succeeding. The way you think about things translates into how you act.
Having the right mindset includes believing that you can be successful, making up your mind to put in the work, and learning how to self-motivate and self-inspire.
Reason 2: You don’t plan your spending
Paying off debt, saving money, investing, living life… In order to successfully do any of these things, you need to have a plan around your money. That means learning how to budget. A budget not only helps to ensure you’re keeping your expenses below your income, but it also allows you to plan out what you can spend, save, and invest.
If you find that your money easily slips through your fingers (ever wondered where all your money went?), and you end up with not very much left after each paycheck to put towards your savings and investments. The key to this is tracking your spending and making your budget your best friend.
The wealthiest people in the world (who stay wealthy) have budgets. They might not call them budgets, but they most certainly have plans around their spending, saving, and investing. And if they do, then you should, too! The goal is to control your money and give every penny you earn a job to do for you.
Reason 3: You spend more than you earn
This is one of the biggest reasons why people stay broke and a direct result of not budgeting. Spending more than you earn means you can’t save, and it also means you’re more likely to be overextended and take on debt. The key to this is tracking your spending and making your budget your best friend (see reason #2 above).
If you haven’t had success in the past, perhaps you haven’t found a budgeting method that works well for you? Budgeting is not one-size-fits-all, and you’re more likely to succeed if you use an approach that works best for you.
You need to be honest with yourself-make a list titled “Why I’m broke” and list what you’re spending your hard-earned cash on. This way, you can work on your money mindset, create a budget, and make your future financial plan.
Reason 4: You lack self-discipline
Self-discipline is one of the biggest areas people struggle with when it comes to financial success. Even I struggle with it at times. People set up their goals with good intentions, but as time progresses, they don't always stay the course. There's the battle of wants versus needs, wanting instant gratification, and, of course, the emotions that come with it.
Having a bad day and feeling down, or having a great day and feeling excessively happy and deserving, are notorious for many failures and goals falling off track. So how do you combat this?
In my experience, I find that having a strong desire to succeed is the first step — you have to want it bad enough, and you have to be clear on your WHY. Self-discipline takes practice, and this means you need to make a conscious effort to improve your self-discipline every single day. You also want to be sure you keep your goals visible so you can see them every day and stay motivated.
In addition, accountability is key. If you struggle with self-discipline, then consider finding someone to keep you accountable for the actions you take and around the financial goals you have set.
Reason 5: You borrow for everything
Not planning ahead, spending more than you earn… just put it on the credit card, right? Whatever it is, you tell yourself you can pay it off with your next paycheck. Meanwhile, the bills get higher, and it gets harder to catch up.
If you’ve found yourself in this situation, it’s important that you create a plan to get out of debt. However, in order for your plan to be successful, you’re going to have to commit to stop spending on credit and acquiring new debt.
You are also going to need to work on your money mindset and develop new habits around your money management. You need to switch off the I am broke mentality, aka Poor Mindset, and develop a rich mindset. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s certainly possible as long as you stay determined and focused.
Reason 6: You procrastinate saving money
If you want to build wealth, you have to save. Now. Too many people make the mistake of thinking that they just need to earn more money in order for them to save, but that way of thinking is so wrong. When it comes to saving money, it’s all about building the habit and consistency. Even if your income is not as much you’d like it to be, focus on saving what you can, and do it on a consistent basis so you can build the habit of saving.
If you can only afford to save a dollar or $10 each time you get paid, then do it anyway. A little + a little + a little over time equals a lot. If you think you can’t save when you have a little, you probably won’t save when you have a lot. After creating your "why I’m broke" list, take that money you were wasting and start saving it. Start a money-savings challenge that fits your budget and watch your savings account grow.
Another big mistake is assuming that because you finally do have a great job or income, you have time to save and can always do it later. The truth is life happens. Job security, for the most part, is not guaranteed. Layoffs, company acquisitions, or just a change in the economy can derail this “plan” in an instant.
Start by getting an emergency fund in place and then work on saving money towards your other goals. An emergency fund should ideally have 3 to 6 months of your basic living expenses to cover any unplanned life circumstances.
Reason 7: You don’t invest
You may be thinking I can’t invest. I am broke! The most popular excuses I get around why people don’t invest include: Investing is gambling. Investing is only for rich people. Investing is too complicated.
Well, if you’ve ever made any of those excuses, it’s time to quit them fast. Investing is how you put your money to work for you and how you build real wealth.
Again, this is an area that many fall short in simply because people think they have time or feel retirement is so far away. Well, if you are dreaming of living life fabulously come retirement, it's going to cost you a lot of money, and the type of money that you'll need to sustain you over several years takes time to save and grow, so the earlier you start, the better.
There are different ways in which you can invest your money. Start by contributing to your employer-sponsored retirement plans and take advantage of any match they offer. You can also consider opening up an IRA to increase the amount of money you can save towards retirement while taking advantage of the tax benefits.
If this is all too much, there are plenty of personal finance resources, including classes, to help you get started.
Reason 8: You compete with everyone
You can also refer to this as keeping up with the Joneses (or the Kardashians). You find yourself buying things you can’t afford to impress people you probably don’t really like and who don’t really care. Keeping up appearances and competing with people when it comes to material things messes with your focus.
If you are guilty of buying things to compete with others, this will need to be added to your why I’m broke list. Stop comparing yourself to others. If you’re trying so hard to keep up appearances, you overspend and could end up going deep into debt to maintain it all.
If you want to build real wealth, there's a common saying that you’re going to need to live like no one else will now, so in the future, you can live like no one else can. Adjust your focus towards your goals; don’t worry about what other people think of you. And most importantly, focus on being grateful and content on your journey to wealth. Your biggest competition is not other people; it’s yourself.
Reason 9: You don’t make paying off debt a priority
Debt sucks, and if you have it, you don't need me to tell you that. The problem with having debt is that most people don't prioritize paying it off. They don’t make their "this is why I’m broke list" and don’t budget correctly. They are comfortable with making minimum payments or paying a little extra but don't go as far as figuring out how long it will take them to pay it off, much less create a plan to aggressively do it.
Aggressively attacking your debt means reducing your expenses and/or increasing your income AND putting the extra funds you come up with against your debt. It means selecting a debt pay-off method, following through, and understanding that the aggressive stance is only temporary. Once you knock out your debt, you'll have more money at your disposal, which you can put towards the things that truly matter to you. The sooner you start paying off debt, the faster you will transform from the I am broke too I’m wealthy mentality.
Reason 10: You’re scared
The fear of failure, ah! This is a big one. Too many people stay stuck in sucky financial situations because they are afraid to fail. They are afraid of the effort, the sacrifice, the commitment, and that they will make mistakes or lose their money. They are afraid that good money management is too time-consuming or too difficult to learn.
Well, if fear is holding you back, it's time to understand you cannot succeed unless you try. That means taking things one step at a time. Start by taking an assessment of where your finances currently stand and then create a budget and a long term plan—struggling to do it on your own? There's no shame in seeking help. Don't let the fear of failure keep you stuck.
Invest in Yourself to Build Wealth
If you are guilty of any of the behaviors above, it’s time to make some serious changes so you can start working on building real wealth. And that starts by working on YOU. Invest in your personal growth and development. Read books, take courses, educate yourself, improve your skillset. When you invest in your self-development and follow through with it, you stay in the frame of mind to succeed and do well.
So stop the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. Stop telling yourself I am broke and letting it prevent you from being financially successful. Finish this sentence, “I am broke because...,” and figure out the root cause of why you are broke. Then take steps to ditch debt, save money, and build real wealth. It’s time to start working on your financial wellbeing and building wealth instead.