“You can’t break poor people mentality. Once you grow up poor, you don’t take anything for granted. It can have the negative side also because you can never truly be relaxed” Will Smith.
Mr Fire and myself had one of our “normal not normal” conversations about our childhoods and how they differed. Neither one of us grew up rich or with a lot of money but we do come from very different backgrounds.
His parents always looked and planned for the future. They pushed themselves to the limit when buying a house and had “side hustles” (possibly before they were even named!) that seem more middle class to me such as buying land, running an equestrian center and aiming to build their own homes to then sell on for profit (it was alot easier back then) Mr Fire’s dad worked whilst the mum looked after the children and ran the side hustles. They never went abroad and had very strict rules around money and the lifestyle they should live with it. If money needed to be borrowed from his parents, it was allowed so long as interest was paid back at the normal rate on top of the amount borrowed.
My upbringing was different. My parents both come from “poor” backgrounds and they worked hard to move away from the destitute area they both grew up in and overstretched themselves on the house of their dreams. My dad worked one job and my mum worked four. Myself and my sister did without and it was common knowledge that my dad’s money was his own and the money my mum earned ran the house and put food on the table. Any extra she had left was saved for an annual holiday abroad. We only used to have enough to get us there and the hotel. We did have meals out but it was budgeted for.
I wore hand me downs and so did my sister. We had a large family on my mum’s side and so there was always a multitude of clothes in rotation. My parents did not really plan for the future. When I was eight my mum took me into her bedroom and showed me her “money drawer” this was a drawer stacked full of financial paperwork that needed paying, had been paid or could not be paid. They spanned back years. My mum explained our very fragile financial state and that was that. I’m not sure what I was supposed to do with the knowledge that she had given me but I went straight into my room and got out my church donation envelopes that the church gave us every year. I wrote on the front of them all the things I needed to save for and from that point on, I put my pocket money in each envelope. I guess that was my version of a savings account.
My Grandmother worked in a factory, my mother worked in retail and myself and my sister both started our first jobs in retail. My sister was lucky enough to get free funding to university and so she took it. I stayed in retail and eventually progressed to office work. Why am I sharing all this? I recently read a report that stated that 30% of UK children are now considered “poor”. I feel that my upbringing is affecting the way I view money and FIRE now. I have what I call:
The ShopFloor Money Mentality.
What is the ShopFloor Money Mentality?
Simply put it is a looking at your money in terms of having it where you can see it i.e in the till (or rather in the bank) You set your budgets and strive to stick to them no matter what such as buying food day to day or week to week just so you don’t go over budget. Its seeing money in the here and now and not planning for the future.
I suppose it could be described as a a step up from poverty but whilst still having a poverty mindset.
Who has it?
ME! I personally think that anyone who has grown up in a poor house but strives to be better financially has it. We aren’t poor like our parents but are still held back by the mindset we have had built in through:
Learned behavior and poverty related behavior
Living day to day, week to week month to month.
Lack of financial knowledge
I am the first to admit that I have no clue about finances and yet I have the power and time to learn. So why don’t I?
Standard of work and education
I often read FI blogs that bring in some serious cash from freelancing side hustles. I don’t have a skill that it applicable as far as I’m aware. I also read about people who earn over £40k a year. I am not specialized in anything and so its hard too get into high paying jobs.
Belief and value systems.
Mr fire is always trying to open my mind to more forward financial planning such as the stock market and capital gains. My parents where always more interested in “the big lottery win” or myself or my sister marrying a wealthy man in order to plan for the future!
There is also the way the “shop floor money mentality” people organise their money:
1. Income Shaping
The focus here is letting when you get paid dictate your income. When I started in retail I would only take jobs that paid weekly as it was easier for me to manage my money and end up with “savings” at the end of the week.
2. Lack of forward planning.
Its taken a long time for me to understand the benefits of stocking up the kitchen cupboards and filling the freezer so we have enough food to last a month or two. My parents lived week to week.
3. Poor financial predictability
This one is similar to forward planning and is were the emergency fund is key. This is about being unprepared for big upcoming purchases such as a new car, car insurance, a boiler breaking down. Lack of predictability is the death of even the best planned out budget if your not leaving any room for all the little extra’s life throws at us.
Here are some of the “financial beliefs” my younger self learned growing up:
! Money is evil!
If there was stress, upset, heartache any kind of negative emtion in my house, it was due to money. Money was stressful and complicated. So its obvious to see how to my younger self. Money = Evil.
!Its either feast or famine.
When we had money we all went crazy with it (like buying a bar of chocolate and a can of coke crazy!) Then when funds were low we went without. I used to wear cereal boxes cut into innersole shapes in my shoes.
!Money is a dirty word
SHAME. Thats what money was to my sister and I. We never had branded anything and never went to any soft play centers, theme parks, expensive school trips, cinema’s bowling. Any entertainment we had was free.
!Anyone who had it better was the devil
This is more about those friends that had everything handed to them. I worked nights when I was 15 and still at school so I could pay rent to my mum for living in the family home. She didn’t ask me too but my sister wanted to go to Uni and whilst she got a free grant (since my parents income was so low) I knew my mum couldn’t afford the extra food bills that went with it.
How to leave the shop floor money mentality.
This definitely isn’t a pity post. Its more a celebration of where I have come from and the blueprint for where I wish to go. So what’s the plan for being more FI and breaking the circle?
I could really use some help and guidance, so if anyone has any top tips or links to share then please do!