How can I maintain a positive attitude when finances are tight?
Tough times force us to ask ourselves hard questions. With anything in life, it is hard when we begin to learn that sometimes we don’t have the answers. We may work a full day and wonder why we are still barely making ends meet.
When you’re on a tight budget, your mind can start to slip into scarceness mode. All of a sudden, all you can see are the things your budget doesn’t allow you to do or buy. You begin to look at all the houses that are bigger than yours, all the name brands that people are wearing that you don’t wear, all the vacations that others go on that you never get to…you get the idea. Often, this is where it really gets tough as you get caught up in the need to keep in line with what others have or are doing and then go into credit card debt to pay for it.
When you look at your own debt, it becomes overwhelming to feel as though not only can you never catch your breath, but it never ends. You feel overwhelmed by debt and like you never have what your family needs. It’s not hard to feel hopeless or depressed, but the reality is that you’re not alone. American household debt hit a record $16.9 trillion at the end of 2022, according to Debt.com, and just below 10% of the average household’s income went towards lowering that debt.
There are ways to get out of debt, but that is not for this column. Your question was specifically how to stay positive when things are tight.
When you are in scarcity mode it can become very difficult to keep your thoughts positive and to keep moving forward. This is the time to flip the script and work to shift your mind into abundance. Yes, you read that right. Abundance! One of the best ways to do that is to practice gratitude. If you can find things each day to be grateful for, it can be easier to stay positive on a tight budget. Take time once a day to write down three things you’re grateful for. They can be simple things like a good cup of coffee or a beautiful sunset. As your list grows, you’ll find that even though you’re on a tight budget, there is still so much good around you. This mental shift can help you stay positive regardless of how tight your budget.
Most importantly, you need guidance and hope that’s bigger than yourself. During difficult and trying times, it’s hard to see Yad Hashem. But emunah reminds us that G-d’s in control and that we need to remember to rely on Him, even when the path ahead does not seem to be getting any better. The Ribono Shel Olam is able to sustain us through anything.
This is the only thing that can truly loosen your tight chest when you feel like you have a hard time breathing. Instead of white-knuckling your way through your anxiety and playing out negative scenarios in your mind, let Hashem take over. Take your worries to the Ribono Shel Olam, and pour your heart out to Him.
In Devarim 8:17–18 it says: ‘You may say in your heart, ‘My strength and the might of my hand have produced this wealth for me.’ Then you shall remember the L-rd your G-d, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.’”
You worry about finances and economic downturns, but you forget that it’s not your worry. Hashem is the only one who can give you whatever it is that you need – not what you think you need, but what He knows you need and what is best for you.
So, remember, when you’re trying to stay positive on a tight budget, it can be overwhelming. Focus on gratitude. Remember that this is a season and it can change in a minute if Hashem wants it to. Whatever you are going through, daven to Hashem.
Lastly, if you are short on cash, that’s okay. You don’t only have to spend money to feel good about yourself. You can be there for others and use what you DO have to help. There are endless possibilities for how to be generous with your time, your talents, and your friendship. Hatzlacha!