Do you have the ShopFloor money Mentality?

“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!


33 thoughts on “Do you have the ShopFloor money Mentality?


  2. Thanks for sharing this, LMF.

    What I’ve learned from embarking on the FIRE path and from reading other people’s blogs and stories is that whilst a lot of the focus seems to be on the money side of things, without getting the mental side of things or mindset sorted, it’s harder (or even impossible) to make things work.

    Granted that earning over £40k a year (I don’t earn even close to that) should make FIRE easier but if that person is also spending £40k a year (or more) because of their mindset, then there’s no way they’re going to FIRE.

    People’s backgrounds/upbringing do shape the way they are so the challenge is to change the way you think about things if you want a different outcome.

    One thing which I changed when I embraced FIRE was a habit – I now only go to shopping centres/shops if there is something specific I need to buy. I no longer window shop and I only browse shops if I’m looking for something I need to buy. It wasn’t even that I particularly enjoyed shopping or buying stuff in the past, it was just something I did out of habit and for a long time, my habit was supported by my credit cards.

    I hope you can find some inspiration to help you on your FIRE path – it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by so many ideas and different ways of doing things. Choose a few of the ideas which will work for you (as not all of them will) so you don’t get stretched.


    1. Hi Weenie,

      Thasnks for your comment. I asgree with you, I think we pick up alot of habits from societies consumerism that its hard to actually notice your doing them! I actually still browse when we are food shopping (I hadn’t noticed I did it last night until you just mentioned it!) so its something I need to work on.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Little Miss Fire! I think this is a brilliant, humane, and insightful article. In my experience people who can step back and see their situation, where they want to go, and the potential hurdles in the way are rare — the sort of people who can overcome them. 🙂

    I agree with your central premise, though I’ve never seen it put quite like this. I had a row with an ex a few years ago in which I rather crassly said she was brought up a “rich girl”. She was angry because in fact her family life had been quite unstable, and she had gone without in other ways. But similar to your examples, her parents were adept at investing capital, and using money as a tool — whereas mine aspired to pay the mortgage and were terrified of debts and really of financial decisions. I suppose I was a bit envious as I saw how certain things came easier to her because of it, whereas my change in mindset had been hard won.

    However I also think I learned a lot from my parents, financially speaking… perhaps some things her own upbringing didn’t give her. As you explain, your mother seems to have taught you the value of financial discipline and having systems, and she seems to have been very resilient in tough circumstances. From what I’ve read here, you went without instead of into debt. These are great examples to have in your life. Debt can indeed be a tool, as my ex’s mindset had it, but only if invested into productive assets, not to fund everyday consumption. It’s better to go without, however hard, if possible.

    You might like this post:

    I know our site is pretty hard going at first, but I think if you dig around in the Passive Investing section you’ll get a good framework for how to invest, so hopefully we can help with that part of the picture. Good luck! 🙂

    p.s. Apologies if I’ve posted this comment twice!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for your comment and the support. I think in some ways what I like most about FI is that you have to almost have a type of symbiosis between your mind and your money. No good saving your hard earned cash if you have the mentality your broke and then ultimately “deserve” to spend it all. I will definitely check out your link. I have been secretly reading your site for a while now but haven’t commented as a lot of it is very advanced for little old me! but now I cant use that “excuse mentality” anymore I’m off to do some serious reading!


  4. Two thousand years ago the pricniples behind this post were reflected in a truth written over the temple of Apollo – “know thyself”, and it’s still true

    We all carry assumptions and beliefs from our experience and role models. Only by asking what these are can we change those that are invalid or no longer true. This is harder now because marketing is much better and slicker now, and there’s probably more of a focus on the material rather than the spiritual (in the wider sense of that word) – Erich Fromm’s 1970s book to have or to be showed the direction of travel. Facebook and Instagram tend to be about what you have, and very little about what you are – the values you hold and the principles you live by aren’t usually very visual.

    The mechanics of financial success are simple arithmetic, not higher maths. Start with Micawber, and then perhaps the basics of investing, it’s not that hard. I found it was changing my attitudes enough to live these principles was where the challenge lay. Hhis was a question of months and years, not weeks, despite the factual principles being fairly easy to grasp. That’s because changing attitudes is about changing subconscious assumptions drawn from experience and the surrounding culture.

    I would venture that the keys for you are in the blue and yellow lower half of the hamburger. And I congratulate you on having asked these questions early on in your career.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ernie,
      I agree completely with the power of knowing “thyself” I think we get stronger the more we learn about ourselves.

      I think its a sad world we live in were marketing is almost tailor made to encourage people to spend money they do not have.

      I also agree with your comments about social media – I try to stay away from them as I find it very bad for my mental health plus it appears to warp peoples perception of what is real and fake.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  5. FI Warrior

    Hi. Please don’t get put off by jargon, the system does this to deliberately confuse us and that way intimidate us into acting like sheep, patronisingly telling us to not worry our little heads about how they’re playing us. Jargon is just a tool of gatekeeping to lock ordinary people out of the scam whereby the 1% indirectly and absolutely rule society; they win easily by making us give up already in our minds, so there is not even a fight.

    I tell my younger siblings that whenever they’re down or frustrated about being blocked when trying to get somewhere in life, to think of it like a hurdles course. So if you have 10 hurdles in a race, at each one, most people will give up or be so half-hearted they fail, but if you have FIRE in you, since you can’t change it anyway, why not use their weapon. It’s all about perception, if you see it as your friend, you too can win a crumb, the 1% get slices of cake, but we can still get a comfortable life by out-competing the rest of the flock. This is not immoral if it’s because you put in the effort and sacrifice they weren’t willing to; so learn how the rich do it and copy what you can, there’s no excuse today with so much quality, free info on the web, as you know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi FI Warrioir,
      Thanks for your comment. I love what you say to your younger siblings and I believe you are correct. Its all about viewing things simply as a challenge. All we need is a big push to overcome that obstacle and get were we need to go.

      I love “having FIRE in you!” Very inspiring! Thanks for stopping by.


  6. Mick

    The cereal box innersoles brought it all back to me, my mum used to buy us shoes several sizes too big and then put in a few layers of cardboard innersoles to make the shoes fit. The layers were reduced as our feet grew. The biggest problem was the layers wore down really quickly and had to be replaced often. I made a conscious effort when I was 18 not to be poor anymore, I felt I had done being poor and got the teeshirt. In my opinion you will get to where you want to go because you want to do it and thats 75% of the battle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mick,
      Thanks for your comment,. Seems we are kindred cardboard soles! 🙂 I’m glad you made the conscious effort to chose your financial situation. I feel sorry for those who do not release they have the power to change. Keep up the good work!


  7. Hi LMF, this is a great post – both arresting and moving! I think Weenie is bang on with her comment that the secret of FIRE lies in values before budgeting. There’s a couple of sources that throw this into sharp relief… you probably know of them already…

    Your Money Or Your Life – the classic FIRE book before FIRE was a thing – has a great section about different money mindsets. Money as power, money as evil, money as security etc. The book as a whole hits every point on your money map above.

    Early Retirement Extreme – the blog and the book put me in touch with a mind – Jacob Fisker – that’s creative, original and very different from my own. Jacob lives on poverty level income but thinks with the self-sufficient skill of a hunter-gatherer cruising through a primordial forest.

    The Millionaire Next Door – this is a book that many cite as opening their eyes to a completely new money mindset. I haven’t read it but that’s my own failing.

    I’d just add that while my own money mindset was different from yours, it has transformed over the course of my FIRE journey. To mangle the words of the psychologist Jonathan Haidt ‘We’re born with a first draft of our personality, but we can rewrite it with experience’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi The Accumulator!
      Thanks for your comment and the reading recommendations! The only one I have actually heard of is “the millionaire next door” so I will be looking to see if I can read the others. I love the idea that our mindset will change over time about money – makes me hopeful!


  8. I grew up in Derbyshire during the war and because my Dad worked horrendously long hours we were much better off than our neighbours. Even so when I went to the local grammar school I felt like a fish out of water. I had a Christian conversion experience when serving in the R.A.F. and in many ways that changed my outlook but the financial concerns inculcated during childhood were still there. My wife left me two years ago and I am finally getting in to the habit of spending money almost recklessly but I have a keen interest in the stock market and have learned many of the ins and outs the hard way.

    An Old Geriatric

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. Its great to hear that you have an interest in the stock market. Its one of the things I’m staying away from until I learn more about it. Good Luck.


  9. Hi LMF,

    I found your post through Monevator (thanks Investor). Good luck with your blog! Funny coincidence to read it today as an hour ago I finished listening to a podcast from Hidden Brain, a US podcast. The episode is called Tunnel Vision and you might like to take a listen. I think you will recognise some of what they discuss – the psychology of scarcity and how it can create tunnel vision where you struggle to see the big picture or plan for the future.

    I hope you find it interesting :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi FD (hoping its ok to call you that!)
      ha ha that’s some coincidence. I will definitely check it out so thanks for the link! It sounds like something I would really benefit from.
      Thanks for stopping by!


  10. Hi LMF,

    Really like this post and I can see why TI featured it (as the headline selection no less!) on Monevator.

    I agree with his comment above, it does seem like although you may still have some “bad” side effects from the shop floor mentality, there are also many good traits you have from it as well.

    I would imagine there are plenty of people who came from poor roots who now earn over 40K a year and just blow it all because as you also mention, “they deserve it” or whatever. And they will be no better off than you, me or anyone else no matter what we’re earning because they can’t save and control their spending.

    It’s great that you have the self-awareness and be as introspective as you are. I like to think I am pretty good at that but this was pretty deep stuff!

    I think I had a few of your traits growing up as well FWIW, definitely used to view money as evil even though I realised at the same time that I needed/wanted it to be able to do what I wanted to do in life. Now I don’t think it’s evil as such, but still think there are many ways our monetary system can be improved, but that is from a position of much greater knowledge rather than the knee jerk reaction of a teenager who thinks the world is unfair (which unfortunately my experience since has told me is totally true, so I guess you should just trust your gut feeling sometimes!) Right I’m rambling now so will wrap it up with…

    My only tip really is to keep reading Monevator and other fine PF/FI blogs. And maybe a book or two as well – “Thinking fast and slow” is a really good one to get you to think about how our brains can trick us into making silly short term-ist decisions, both financial and otherwise – and things will surely start to click soon enough.

    All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi TFS,
      Thanks for your comment! I know. I hadn’t realised I was mention until I started getting comments and a few of them (like yours) mentioned it! I agree with you that our monetary systems needs to change or at the very least, the education systems needs to support parents educating their children about finances. Thanks for the book tip, please let me know if you have any more! I really need to get reading so I can advance my knoweldge before my daughter picks up any naughty habits of mine (money wise – she already bites her finger nails!)
      Thanks for stopping by
      LMF x


  11. Felice

    Just to second The Accumulator’s recommendation – Your Money or Your Life – it’s stood the test of time; particularly the first few chapters are all about our relationship with money. Should be able to borrow it from the library 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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