Overcoming Underearning - Recognizing the Problem and Taking the First Steps Towards A Solution
Underearning is a process of not really making enough to support oneself wisely and comfortably. It is usually rooted in a combination of poor information about how money actually works in the real world, limiting beliefs and attitudes about money, and a set of financially destructive habits related to organization and money management.
Many underearners start to naturally move out of this cycle and toward higher earning but are unable to complete the process. They never make the full transition from underearner to comfortable earners and seem to struggle with these money issues most of their lives despite genuine effort to change. The reason for this is that most underearners either do not know that they are underearners or they do not know what the process of leaving underearning behind actually looks like.
If you ask, many underearners will tell you that they are doing just fine - that they are making enough money to get by and take care of themselves. These same underearners will also readily tell you that they have had bad luck, unexpected expenses, and personal crisis that have thrown them financially off track and have caused stress. Usually these setbacks happen on a fairly regular basis. It seems that they start to get ahead and then something happens and they fall behind again.
For some this may be an economic reality related to skills, education, and cultural opportunities. For many however it is something much different:
1. They were not doing fine in the first place- they were underearning and
Underearners need to get in the habit of acknowledging that they need to earn more than they think they do. Part of the cycle of crisis and defeat that underearners experience is created by the fact that many expenses seem unexpected when they in fact should be expected. If there is not extra money on hand for health emergencies, equipment failures, vacations, and time spent being out of a job, then there is not really enough money. None of these things are fun, but all of these things are facts of life in our times and we need to plan and earn for them.
Although most underearners know this on some level, they often ignore it because they feel powerless and overwhelmed. This is particularly true when those "unexpected" expenses do come up that they simply did not have the cash to deal with before; even if they had planned on them. One tool for breaking the cycle of underearning is to realize that those discouraging expenses may not be a sign of failure; instead they may be a call to action and a significant opportunity for change.
The most common sign of progress in overcoming underearning is in fact the unexpected expense. Something good will happen, either a better job or reduced daily expenses and it will seem as if things are really going to change financially, and then spending seems to suddenly increase. The underearner on their way to higher earning seems to lose all progress and confidence in the face of expenses and/or debts that are once again increasing. Huge progress is available to the underearner who does not fall into this trap and instead uses the setback as a tool for exploring their underlying relationship to money.
For most underearners overspending is not the issue, not earning enough to pay for life's normal setbacks is the issue. Paradoxically, the first key to breaking the earnings barrier actually is not to try to earn more but to change how you respond when you spend more. How you emotionally respond to spending to clean up old debts, obligations and needs can help you to change the way you think about money and the options you have for earning it.
Most underearners go through a period on their road to wealth where they have to clean up the old effects of not having had enough ready cash on a consistent basis in the past. The irony of the universe is that this usually happens about the time that the underearner is suddenly starting to earn more, and or encounter more professional opportunities. An example of this is when you get a bonus at work and then suddenly your car breaks down and you spend everything extra on getting it fixed. It is a process that can be very discouraging, if you do not see it for the opportunity it is. Unfortunately most people become so discouraged that they return to destructive thinking habits and action habits.
They say to themselves "Earning more just means spending more, why bother? I will never really get ahead!" What is more, they often follow this internal statement up with the external action of spending money impulsively and/or ignoring bills and financial duties they need to attend to, because they "just can't deal with it right now."
One of the keys to permanently breaking through the underearning barrier is to realize that sometimes unexpected expenses are not a sign that life is hard and you can never get ahead. Sometimes they are a sign that you are gaining new sources of energy, clearing up the financial drains that lead to debt and underearning and creating a new relationship with money!
As you move your financial "set point" you will go through a phase of earning more and at the same time spending more on "old business" and unexpected expenses. Plan on it. This is natural. When it happens congratulate yourself. Even if it means you could not put your money toward what you planned on putting it toward. Realize you are making progress and resist the urge to judge yourself or others, and slip into thinking like a victim.
One of the keys here is to remember that money moves in cycles just like relationships do. On a date it is your job to appear as confident and attractive as you can. Even when you are nervous. When more money seems to be going out than coming in, or when you are increasing your income but not yet seeing an increase in discretionary spending you need to remember this analogy and "date" your money. Be as appreciative of it as you can, get to know it better and show it your attractive side.
When you are on a date and your companion gets up to go to the restroom, you do not chase after them for fear they will leave and never come back. That is not an attractive strategy. Likewise when you find yourself spending more than you want to be spending fear, resentment and chasing after the money does not usually work. You end up communicating stress and resentment to others and to your own sub-conscious. You will therefore become LESS attractive to new sources of money.
When you find yourself with unexpected financial stress and expenses try the following things to facilitate change:
1) Acknowledge to yourself that you have been underearning. You don't have to know the solution right now, simply name the problem. Commit to yourself that you are open and willing to find a way to make more money with the same amount or less effort doing something you can enjoy and be proud of. It may seem impossible now, but if you do not set your intention that this is what you want, you will never find the opportunity to create it. Remember life is full of the unexpected there are probably unexpected options right around the corner you just have to focus on looking for them.
2) Take a moment to realize that your fear, stress and resistance might be more about the past than the present. Make a statement of forgiveness for yourself and others about your money past and then turn your attention to the present.
3) Show gratitude for spending money as well as earning money. When you spend money, you are getting something of value - whether it be an item you have a strong emotional desire for like a new toy, or one that does not seem so fun like paying off a debt. Get specifically grateful about your opportunity to spend money cleaning up your financial worries and energy drains and for the opportunity to increase your financial integrity. Try meditating on the phrase: I am grateful for clearing up my financial incompletes and reducing the ways in which I draw debt and underearning to me.
4) Increase your confidence, energy, and attractiveness around money by taking physical steps to improve your situation-that are not related to money. Reduce clutter by simply getting rid of 20 items you no longer want or need. Reduce overwhelm and self judgment by picking five phone calls you need to return or tasks you need to do that you have been avoiding and just DO IT. By getting into productive action you will change your attitude. By getting the systems working in your life just a little bit better you will be more available for opportunity when it knocks.
5) Stop saying no to offers of money, help or material goods unless it is clearly immoral, illegal or comes with significant strings attached. Do not try to control when, if, or how you are going to receive money. Instead just try to focus on the fact that it IS possible that you will continue to receive until what is coming in is more than what is going out. Focus on this even if you cannot personally imagine how that might be the case. Then stay in action and keep doing what you can to take specific practical actions to be more organized and caught up on your tasks.
Just taking these five steps can change your world. I cannot tell you how many underearners we have worked with through My Creative Prosperity who have taken the steps of acknowledgement, forgiveness, gratitude, action and receiving and have immediately seen significant financial results. People find cash, have jobs offered to them, effortlessly increase their sales and reduce expenses or get debts forgiven on a regular basis when they take these steps. Usually the money coming in defies logic or does not seem to be directly related to the steps the student was taking to change their relationship to money. And yet the money is there in cold hard cash - so does it really matter how it got there?
I challenge you to greet your next unexpected expense as a messenger of abundance. When you take these steps as a reaction to increased expense you are opening yourself up to earning more and consciously breaking through the underearning barrier. The more you do this, the more the magic increases.
May your magic always lead to more abundance and less stress!
Mari Geasair is a writer, educator and coach dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and Information Service Professionals move from underearning to high earning.
Check out her site My Creative Prosperity - http://www.mycreativeprosperity.com for resources to help you move to the next level.
Be sure to check out her FREE hour and a half prosperity seminar you can download to your computer and start listening to today to help you make powerful changes in your money life. http://www.mycreativeprosperity.com/FinancialFreedom05.html
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