I had four grandparents who were young children during the Great Depression. They lived through and served in WWII. One thing I’ve noticed that they had in common was that they saved everything! Have you ever looked around your house to see stacks of papers, a dozen toothbrushes (because they were on sale), or save all the little shampoos from hotels when you travel? Do you know someone who saves all their check registers from decades go, or who eats half their dinner at a restaurant and takes the other half home? I always associated this with a depression era mentality. Then I began to notice this same mindset spans all generations. Stephen R. Covey calls it “scarcity mentality” in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
Whether you were born in the Great Depression, lived through a World War when items you used daily were rationed, or you have gone through a divorce and are afraid that you won’t be able to support yourself or your family, the mindset is the same. There’s a fear that you won’t have what you need when you need it. That there will never be enough - whether it’s money, food, emotions, or something else - and you make decisions and act from a place of lack, versus the belief that there is plenty to go around. Often those with scarcity mentality are also hoarders, savers (hoarding money), and make poor decisions. When you are worried about your bank balance, you may put off opening your bills or pay at the last second (or even late), just to make sure you don’t need the money for something else. This doesn’t help the situation, it just feeds the scarcity mentality and starts the whole circle again.
I work with single women often and hear this scarcity mentality over and over. They like the idea of homeownership. They get pre-qualified, they have jobs, they want to start looking at the houses, but when it comes time to actually make an offer they’re paralyzed. For some, the idea of releasing that “nest egg” they’ve been saving for the downpayment and closing costs is paralyzing. “What if I don’t have enough money and need this?“ “This is the last time I’ll be able to have this money all in one place“. “What if I can’t pay the mortgage?” It’s fear. It’s fear that often keeps single women from being homeowners and keeps them renters. This same fear or scarcity mentality also keeps people from investing, saving, contributing to their 401(k) and other wealth building strategies.
So how do you combat this mindset so you can move into a place of thriving versus just surviving? That is a more extensive conversation that just one blog post, but the first step is to change that self talk you hear in your head. Instead of telling yourself “I can’t afford it”, tell yourself “I have other priorities right now.” Change the dialogue in your head and you will start to shift to a mindset of abundance. Then we can get to work changing your financial future.