Conventional YouTube vlog and written blog financial wisdom dictates that rich people think differently about money than poor people, and that if poor people would just think about money the way rich people do, we wouldn’t be poor. In most cases, this is absolutely ridiculous. Our financial resources are impacted by everything from where our parents were born to tax laws that were put in place before we were even old enough to vote, to the national, state, and local economies we live in. There are many factors that are under our control, but “how much money we have” is the result of all of these things, not one simple belief, attitude, or habit.
Much of the advice is also impractical for someone of limited financial means. When your rent is $800 per month and your income is $1500 per month, you cannot save half your income, no matter how many rich people go on YouTube to brag they do it. Other advice is insulting and punitive, in addition to being overly simplistic. You are not poor simply because you stop for coffee a lot instead of making it at home, or order avocado toast at a coffeehouse when you could choose butter or peanut butter and eat it in your own kitchen.
But in all that mess, there is one piece of advice that stuck out as useful, no matter what your financial situation. It is said that when poor people see something that is out of their reach financially, they immediately think, “I can’t afford this,” while rich people think, “How can I afford this?” Or “How can I finance this?”
Granted, a wealthy person and a person of limited financial resources is going to be talking about very different things, and will have wildly varying resources at their disposal. The rich person is likely referring to acquiring another business, and has loans, tax cuts, and investors available to make his or her dream come true. Or they want to upgrade their mansion, and only need to have a talk with their accountant to make arrangements. This is not the same thing as not being able to afford a new phone when the one you depend on is about to shut down for good, or being the only person at work who can’t afford to meet the dress code, or needing work on your only car that you cannot pay for without giving up your medication. It is only the approach a poor person can adopt, not the resources.
But what really happens if you approach the next thing you want but cannot afford with the question, “How can I finance this?”
My main want is endless novels, nonfiction books I can use as research for novels, and music. That one is both too far reaching and too easy at the same time. If I truly tried to raise funds to buy myself my very own library to rival the public branches, I would never do anything else in my life except for fund raise for books and music. At the same time, I could easily afford to read and listen to music all I want simply by going to the library more often, signing up for more free music streaming services, and finding more stations on the radio.
Beyond that, I would like a few more items to round out my wardrobe. My 60 piece year-round capsule wardrobe does not quite have 60 pieces in it. I think I have around 49. I don’t have to have the full 60, but I have noticed I lack a lot of options for more casual days. Adding a couple of pairs of colored jeans to dress down some of my blouses might be useful. And I don’t have many purple blouses, or a sweater in deep purple, bright blue, or deep green. I could also stand to get my hair cut more often, and my makeup is starting to get used up/too old. There are also Italian classes I would like to take, but cannot pay for right now.
What will happen when I approach those things as projects I need to finance, rather than things I do not get to have because I cannot afford them?
Find out in the coming weeks.