Why Are You So Broke?

If you are getting to the point where retirement is near enough to be scary and you just plain don’t feel like you have enough money to retire – you have to wonder why.

Why is it that you don’t have any money?

A bit ago I came across a story about a man who applied for a job. Some sort of techy job, I think. But it really doesn’t matter.

He goes through the interview and does well enough that they offer him a job on the spot. They offered him a salary that he knew was too low for the position. So he refused to accept it.

The interviewer went away, and when they came back it was with a salary offer that was THREE TIMES the previous offer.

That is certainly an extreme case, but it’s a good illustration of the point I am going to make. There is a reason that companies like to keep employees from comparing notes. There is a reason that a company would make a first offer like that.

It’s because some people would take it.

Now, barring that you have had some sort of recent calamity in your life, say you had a contracting business and then the economy tanked and even though you hung on for a few years eventually you just lost everything… Or something like that…

Anyway, barring any sort of hardship, why is it that people you know seem to have managed to sock away some money for retirement and you haven’t?

Did those other folk work harder? Did they live on less? Were they a whole lot better at managing their money over the years than you were? Probably they did.

But I’d like you to consider one other option. And the only reason I want you to think about this is because it is one thing you can change that still has a chance to make a difference to your finances as you prepare for retirement.

Some people have more money because they make more money, and they make more money because they believe they should.

This can be a hard concept to wrap your head around, the fact that people believe they should make good money so they do. It all comes from our relationship to money and how we internalize our values and expectations when we are young.

If you grow up with an idea of what a good living wage is, and if a part of your ethics involves not seeming greedy, and for sure not screwing over someone else for a few dollars, that can put a natural ceiling on how you view making money. If you grow up in the bottom part of the middle class you can get an idea of what “making good money” looks like and that can put a cap on your expectations. It can put a ceiling on your aspirations.

If you ever see someone who is younger than you who makes more than you do at the same type of work, is your reaction to feel you should be making the same? Or is it to wonder what makes them think they deserve it, or to assume they will be caught out one day?

If you know of someone who you know is making more money doing the same job you do but you know they aren’t as good as you, is your mental conversation to think they are kind of scammy, or is it to decide you should make at least that much?

As with so many things we do, it’s all about the mental game. So much of what we receive in life is based upon what we believe we should receive.

It’s a simple idea and one that is so difficult to change. Often our relationship with money is set at an early age. It becomes a core part of our set of values. Messing with any of our core values can be difficult and scary.

So start by doing something simple. You don’t have to learn a new trade. You don’t have to switch careers today. This tip won’t change your life tomorrow. It takes time. Time to believe in it.

So for now, just look around at those people you thought of earlier, and realize that they aren’t scamming anyone. They aren’t taking advantage. The aren’t about to be found to be frauds.

Think about the possibility that they are just getting a fair days pay for a fair day’s work. And you should too.

So think that. And think it often. Often enough so that one day you will believe it. When you finally do. When you finally, actually believe it, you might be surprised to find how much has changed.

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