Being Poor on Purpose

by Bill on January 27, 2012

I’m borrowing from another author or two again today. And again, there’s a reason for it. Because they said it so much better than I could; and that it ties into something else I believe in here.

Over at She Negotiates, Lisa Gates wrote a post about “nobile poverty”. The reason I bring this up is that it ties into core financial beliefs of many more outside of her audience. It deals with under earning and debt, hence the reason I grabbed it.

“When I was getting my coaching certification, our training leader asked me and my cohorts, “What is your niche, who is your target market and how much do you plan on charging to start.”

A lot of ummms and errrrrs. And then one woman said, “I plan to charge whatever my clients want to pay, or can pay. Since my husband is the main breadwinner, I really see my work as a noble service, not a job.

I fell out of my chair.

My feminist blood boiled, to be sure. But our leader saved me, saved all of us really, when he said, “That’s all well and good, but there’s really nothing noble about poverty. What are you really afraid of?” And that launched a two-hour inquiry–and it’s a conversation I continue having with my negotiation clients routinely.”

And that’s the point that hit me, the lady in that comment was actually afraid of earning more. Why?

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Then comes the main quote from Daily Worth about understanding the difference between noble poverty and actually being frugal and self-sufficient. Yes, there is a huge difference. Being poor on purpose means you do without, or make-do, out of fear. The fear is that you cannot achieve more; or the fear is that you don’t want to potentially become a statistic of debt.

A few examples:

continuously buying beater cars instead of saving for a better reliable car

consumption is something you view as a task best done after everything wears out completely

telling others you want more, but never making the attempt to earn more

you view those with money, or have nicer things, as a person who is mired in debt and lives a sad miserable life

Being Poor to Avoid Debt
Unfortunately this isn’t true with so many people. Yes, if you have less money, you can’t spend it immediately. But, this is why the payday loan places and the rent-to-own stores thrive. Being poor on purpose isn’t the way out of avoiding debt. Saving up and buying when you can is the way around that.

But what about using something until it falls apart, or continuously buying things you know will fall apart? Again, stupid. Why? Because last years models, while not as cheap are also just as good as this years new models. And they can still last for awhile. Buying a 2010 Chevy makes a lot more sense than getting another 1986 Dodge. Why, because the overall repair cost to keep the old car on the road will match or exceed the cost of the newer car. Been there, done that.

Staying Employed and Staying Poor
Here’s the other thing that these two blogs bring up, and I seriously agree with. Staying employed is a good thing – but not at the expense of deprivation. If you keep wishing for more, but never try to earn more to get more, that’s your issue. There are free methods to gaining more financial independence. Staying in the low wage group because you believe its morally correct, or because it helps you remain frugal isn’t the answer. The problem isn’t how you earn it, it’s how you use it.

Again, the payday loan people love those who keep using without trying to earn more; hell it’s their business model for God’s sake. Practice on being thrifty with spending, saving and living within your means yes – but by all means, also practice increasing your own worth for yourself. If you learn how to live within your own means, it doesn’t matter how much money you make, you can always support yourself if times get rough again because you don’t forget this stuff.

See both these women view leadership as a tool towards economic ability. To me, having the ability to control sustainable values and goals also yields economic ability. If you can find a way to control your own self worth, and therefore your financial worth, you can then control your economic ability – meaning you gain the resources and tools to be self-sufficient and keep out of debt.

Do you know anyone who was, or is, poor on purpose?

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{ 3 comments }

John | Married (with Debt) January 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm

To be poor on purpose (to be on welfare, get benefits, etc), may not be very noble, but if someone chooses to be poor on their own, I’m fine with that.

Some of the happiest people I’ve ever met are dirt poor.
John | Married (with Debt) recently posted..Job Loss Protection: An Emergency PlanMy Profile

Bill February 1, 2012 at 1:50 am

Hey John!

The difference between those folks and the ones who are in noble poverty, is that the people you refer too are satisfied with their life. Yep, they’re actually happy with what they have. And there’s the difference. I knew an Aeronautics Engineer who gave it all up to live in a trailer and work in a campground. He had less crap, and less stress – but he was happy because he didn’t want more.

Those who I wrote about always want more, but stay in poverty to stay out of debt due to what they perceive as a moral obligation.

Bill March 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Now there’s a post worth looking into. Being poor on purpose as opposed to being on welfare on purpose. If the person choose to be poor as in have very little on purpose, I would be fine with that myself. It’s the ones who think they can ride out the system and have no regard for, or knowledge of, finances or their impact upon others by their actions which bother me.

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