9 Reasons to Stay Upbeat About Having Little Money

Written by on January 12, 2017 in Economy with 0 Comments

Maria Stenvinkel | Tiny Buddha


“If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can’t buy.” ~Proverb

Ever been in a bad money situation?

Life might have been cushy before, but all of a sudden you find yourself having to carefully watch your spending. You start worrying about how to make ends meet.

You’re unable to afford the luxuries you’ve grown accustomed to—the ones you used to take for granted, like a Starbucks coffee or a meal at a restaurant.

I found myself in such a situation not too long ago.

I used to have a well-paid corporate job that allowed me to spend my time shopping, partying, and going on weekend trips with friends. It was a comfortable life, yet I couldn’t shake the lack of fulfillment I felt.

Every so often I thought about my big dream—the one I hadn’t realized yet. You know the dream that scares you to the core, makes your palms sweat, and your heart beat faster? Yep, that’s the one.

Finally, I made the decision to be brave and take action. For me, that meant moving to New York City and starting a business. Luckily my sister had a similar vision, and our paths crossed perfectly.

My plan was to live for a few months off my savings. I didn’t know much about my sister’s financial situation, but let’s just say that working six months for free in New York doesn’t leave you with much.

She had tried to tell me that she was struggling financially. I told her not to worry—that we were in this together and we’d work it out. When we met up in New York City, however, her bank account contained exactly $1. I knew it was bad, but not that bad.

So there we were, in one of the most expensive cities on earth, with no place to stay, no job, no long-term visa, and only my savings to live on.

This experience pushed me way out of my familiar boundaries. I had to lower the bar on my comfort zone as well as my dignity—which I realized when I had to ask an ex-Tinder date if my sister and I could crash in his apartment for a few nights.

But my New York City adventure also taught me lots of valuable lessons. I learned to look past the difficulties of having little money to the positive aspects of it (and there are plenty, I promise). This is what I learned.

1. You connect with people.

When you lack money, you become more dependent on others. Some see this as a painful experience, but it can actually help you strengthen your connections.

Allowing others to be there in moments of difficulty isn’t always easy (hello, pride). But by sharing your vulnerability, you give others permission to do the same. When you allow others to be there for you, you open up to deeper connections.

Also, believe it or not, allowing someone else do us a favor actually leads them to like us more as a result. This is called the Benjamin Franklin Effect. Basically, we justify the favor we did for someone by telling ourselves that we did it because we like the person.

2. You realize your fears were overblown.

Not having enough money can be a great fear for many people. Our minds tend to imagine everything that can go wrong, and build up our negative expectations.

My mind went crazy when I realized what we were dealing with financially. It told me that I wouldn’t be able to pay the rent, so I’d end up on the street. That I’d lose all my friends now that I couldn’t afford to go out, and that I was at risk of starvation and potential death.

None of my fears came true. The point is that reality is rarely as bad as we imagine it will be. Most of the scenarios we make up exist in one place only: our imagination.

3. You tap into your inner strength.

When things around you are uncertain and unstable, you can’t hang on to anything or anyone else but yourself. Others can help, but when life isn’t easy, you simply have to tap into your inner strength.

Needing external things and people to be a certain way in order for you to feel strong is a recipe for disappointment. They are out of your control. You are the only thing you can control in this world; it’s the only place from which you can draw true and lasting strength.

4. You become more grateful.

When you can no longer afford the small things you used to take for granted, you become more grateful for the moments when you can afford them.

Drinking a coffee you take for granted and drinking one you sincerely appreciate are two very different experiences. In the end, happiness isn’t derived from what we are able to buy, but from the gratitude and appreciation we are able to cultivate from our experiences.


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