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Mental Mindsets: Broke vs. Poor

Updated on March 20, 2013
WebIWeave profile image

I grew up in a small community in Northwest Arkansas. My life is a busy balance of family and friends, work and play, good times and bad.

A mindset is a way of thinking.

You are probably thinking to yourself – what is the difference?  Broke or poor . . . either way, you are still out of money.  Most people have had to tighten their budgets during the rough times that the economy has had in recent years.  Just about everyone is living paycheck to paycheck and most of us have found ourselves out of money between paydays.    The difference is how you view your situation and how you deal with the situation.  

All Gone . . .

The Broke Mindset

A person with a broke mentality is able to pay their bills on time but may not have much money left over after the bills are paid.  This person is actually quite smart when it comes to budgeting their money.  This person will figure out which bills need to be paid with certain paychecks so that each bill is paid on time and they may have a little extra money left over for fun stuff.  The person with a broke mentality realizes that they may not have the money to buy a certain item with the current paycheck, but they will get it with the next paycheck.  Times may be rough at the moment but they will get better.  This type of person may complain every once in a while about how tough they are having it, but overall they keep a fairly positive attitude and they are willing to work toward a better future.

Poor You . . .

The Poor Mindset

A person with the poor mentality is also living paycheck to paycheck.  This is the type of person who loudly complains about not having money for the fun stuff.   A person with a poor mentality will complain about not making enough money at their job but they are not willing to look for a better job or take on a second job in order to live the lifestyle that they want. 

This person may claim to be living on a budget, but they tend to be impulsive when they go shopping.  The person will a poor mentality has been known to spend a large amount of money on stuff like toys for the kids, movies, music, alcohol, drugs, or junk food.  A person with the poor mentality may or may not pay their bills on time.  If the person over spends on stuff that is not necessary, then a bill or two will have to wait until the next paycheck . . . which means a bill or two that should have been paid with that next paycheck will have to wait until the next paycheck. 

This is a vicious cycle to get into because you will be adding late charges onto the bills that you already are having a hard time paying.  If you are late paying a bill for a couple months in a row, the company is likely to start adding more deposit fees to each month’s bill to ensure that they will get some money out of you to cover your last bills if you decide to try to skip out on the bills.    It is common for the person with the poor mentality to find places to rent where the utilities are covered with the rent.  

Change Your Mindset!

The Conclusion

The true difference in the broke mindset and the poor mindset is having a positive or negative attitude. The negative attitude of the poor mindset is stuck in the rut of “I ain’t got enough money” and “never will have anything”, whereas the positive attitude of the broke mindset is “I may not have enough right now but I will have soon”.

While it is a good idea to stick with a budget or at least spend your money wisely, having a positive attitude is the key to getting ahead. It is possible to change your mindset, but it does take hard work and a willingness to change.


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    • Michaela Osiecki profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Beyond "mindsets" though, there's a very real difference between people who are always broke and people who are poor, and that difference usually lies with classism and ableism.

      As someone who grew up poor, I have to say that we were lucky to have our basic needs met, oftentimes we had to decide if we were going to pay our heating bill or our electric bill on time each month. Most of the time there was enough food to eat, but not always. And yes, sometimes Mom would scrape together what little she had to buy us a toy for a holiday or take us to a movie, and scientific study has shown that poor people who occasionally indulge are actually benefiting by keeping things like depression/anxiety lowered. Which goes a LONG way in being optimistic about surviving, looking towards the future, and actually wanting to better our lives.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have to agree with your statement with this issue and kfaaadkacced

    • KA Pederson profile image

      Kim Anne 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Totally agree! Either your cup is always overflowing or its always empty - its how two different people can view the same circumstance so differently.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      rich and wealthy mindset people: network marketing

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I think that this article makes a fantastic distinction and can generate so much conversation on what is important. So many people place so much emphasis on money, but in the end, it is really attitude that matters more.

    • profile image

      Jerry Eubanks 

      8 years ago

      I guess I would come under the latter category. I have always had problems with impulse buying wood working tools were always my biggest problem. I would go to Sears or Lows and see some new gadget that I just had to have and the bills just kept being put off and got bigger. It took a bankruptcy to stop my impulses now I never go to my old haunts anymore. My bills are now getting paid on time EVERY month and I feel less stressed than I did. So now I am just in the broke mindset.

    • WebIWeave profile imageAUTHOR

      Manda Fowler 

      9 years ago from Arkansas

      I understand your point about people being laid off . . . but that is not the mindsets that I am talking about. Being laid off is (usually) unexpected and people have to make drastic changes in their life.

    • HattieMattieMae profile image


      9 years ago from Europe

      The only problem is if you don't have a paycheck and living on disability,or social security,the welfare system or child support. You have no money to pay the bills all the time. It comes down to paying what is the top priority which would be rent, electric, and gas for heat if you have money to cover all that. If you don't there is only family to help you out, and if you have no family than you are basically screwed. If you have a vehicle you need gas to get non-profits, and to receive what little assistance there is out there. No one chooses this road, and they are balancing what money they do have to cover expenses. Things break down, you have to with out a shower, electric, gas, or something else. You have no money to buy anything. Some will have to choose to stay in a positive mindset because they have too. Those that don't will end up severely depressed, even maybe suicide because lifestyles have to change, they have to adapt, and have to survive without anything but what they have. Sometimes they have to give up everything that is materialistic to pay their bills. It is rougher than what you're stating here. This is just the begining when someone loses a job. When they have unemployment, or an emergency fund. But when those run out and no jobs, it's a rougher place! Well done article, just giving you the outlook I see happening in Michigan at the moment with lots of families! :)


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