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The Psychology of Not Enough Money

With the recession still in tow, there’s a plain reality to not having enough money. It seems like everyone’s still suffering in one way or another – or knows someone who’s hurting financially. Not having enough money to pay your bills is a stark reality, but we’re looking at something deeper today: the psychology of not having enough money.

Feeling deprived, we sometimes slide into a state of feeling like we’re constantly not having enough money.

Our money behaviors don’t always match what we value about money in general. The way we spend money doesn’t always synch up with our belief about saving, not not spending. When we get to feeling deprived about not having enough, there’s a gap between what we are feeling, and what we’re doing in the world. For example, when times are tight, it’s difficult to differentiate between “needs” and “wants”; often times, we have a very skewed reality of the things that we truly need. Modern lifestyles dictate that we “need” much more than we really do.

Almost certainly luxuries, we tend to integrate certain lifestyle choices into the “need” category, even though they really aren’t: expensive data plans for our iPhones, weekly movies, Starbucks lattes, and a host of other things that we’ve slowly assimilated into our lifestyles. These “little luxuries” are certainly great to have and consume, but they add up, and they distort our realities when we start to embrace negative thinking and feeling about not having enough money in our lives.

If we can learn to slim the gap between what we spend, and what we truly value, we can learn to save without consciously trying to create a budget for ourselves, as budgets don’t always work for people. We can learn to spend more in alignment with what we truly value in our lives, such as good health, family, valuable experiences, as well as cover the basics for food, shelter and clothing. We can take the “edge” off of the psychology of not having enough money, simply by maximizing the experiences we do choose to spend money on by aligning our spending with our values, or the things that really do matter to us.


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