I’m sure a lot of us can relate to growing up in the middle class, as that is the category roughly half of all American households fall under. I, myself, was in a family of four where both my parents worked to provide a stable income for our family, and we were the epitome of middle class.
Before I move on, I want to say that I am so thankful for how I was raised growing up. I do not begrudge growing up middle class at all. My parents taught me the value of hard work and trusting in God to provide for all our needs. We were raised with love, compassion and faith which I realize is rare to find in a home, and I am so thankful for everything my parents instilled in me.
With that being said, I also saw firsthand how much hardship financial difficulties can bring. I remember being eight years old and having families from church bring bags of groceries to our home as my dad’s company was going through bankruptcy. We had to sell most of our things and move in with my aunt for a few months while we got our feet back on the ground.
Through college, I was always working one to two jobs at a time. I also worked over fifty hours a week each summer to pay for my tuition deposit each fall. Though my parents did everything in their power to help me make it through, each semester they also told me I wouldn’t be able to go back to school. Yet here I am today with a four year Bachelor’s degree and fewer loans than I ever expected to have, and for that I am thankful.
Why do I share all this? Because I want to show you that I know what it’s like to struggle. I know what it’s like to want so much out of life yet feel held back by finances. I’ve spent most of my life thinking there will never be enough. I understand what it’s like to resent wealthy people, as I struggled with that my first few years of college. Attending a private school in California, I was surrounded by people who never had to worry about money and who had direct access to their parent’s bank accounts whenever they needed cash. Meanwhile, at one point I found myself making regular trips to the plasma donation center to make an extra fifty bucks. I promise you, I get it. It’s easy to wallow in self-pity and resentment.
After college I started diving headfirst into personal development. I started recognizing my money patterns and began questioning why most of the world lives paycheck to paycheck. Why do so many Americans struggle when there’s so much opportunity out there? Is it true that 10% of people own 90% of the wealth? If so, why? Why do some people seem to always be just getting by, while others generate thousands, or millions, with ease?
Learning about “money mindset” became so fascinating to me. Through extensive reading and studying, I learned that we all have subconscious money blueprints that are formed by the time we’re about eight years old. Essentially, this means the way we view work and money is directly modeled by the way we were conditioned to view it as children. If you’ve grown up hearing things like “money doesn’t grow on trees”, “money is the root of all evil”, “there is not enough to go around”, “everyone should experience being poor”, etc. then you are most likely operating by these beliefs without necessarily even realizing it.
Furthermore, the way your parents handled money is most likely the way you handle your money too. I started paying attention and listening to the way friends and family talked about money. After months of intentionally monitoring this, I realized that money is almost always portrayed in a negative light. So many claim to not care about having money, yet are always stressed about spending money, always worried about their next paycheck and are always talking about how broke they are. It’s baffling to me that I, too, was this way for most of my life without even realizing it. I’ve spent the past year and a half working through over twenty years of subconscious beliefs. The biggest lesson I’ve learned through this process is it is not bad or greedy to have a lot of money.
Ultimately, the grass is always greener. I recognize how fortunate I was to grow up in a loving family who always worked hard to provide for our needs. How lucky I was to attend my dream school in sunny California. How blessed I was to be born in a country where I have the opportunity to pursue my dreams. There will always be someone who wishes they had your life. It does no good to feel sorry for yourself wishing you had more of an advantage.
There is also nothing wrong with working hard to make a lot of money.
Money is not good or bad – it is morally neutral. It’s what we do with it that matters. It’s also not about having money, it’s about what that money can do. Money means opportunity, money means choice, money means freedom. More money means more contribution to causes you are passionate about. Money means being able to give to friends and family members in need. It’s providing the best education, food and experiences for your family. It’s not having to worry about getting in an accident and stressing over thousands of dollars in hospital bills.
I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. I’ve seen cents in my bank account and other times have had more than enough. I can tell you I’d choose to have more every time. There’s plenty of things to worry about in life; money should not be one of them. We need more good people making good money to go out and do incredible things in this world.