Award winning author Barbara Stanny describes underearners as “…anyone who makes less than they need or desire, despite her efforts to do otherwise.” Underearning is a deprivation mindset connected to self-esteem issues. If you can relate to even one of the items below, you have entered the mental zone of the underearner.
1. Having a chaotic financial life
Do you justify buying “fun” things you cannot pay for without incurring debt, with no clear plans for erasing that debt? Are you unable to say no to PB&J sandwiches or quit that Amazon shopping habit? Living in financial chaos, where you’re always struggling to aim straight at your money goal, is giving away your power of money management. You make excuses, then wonder why you’re not progressing financially. That is a classic underearning mindset.
2. Vague financial control
Are you keeping tabs on all your accounts? Do you feel discomfort about the year-to-date earnings figures on your pay stubs or worry about the balance, so you simply stop looking? Underearning also stems from shaky financial attitudes. At some point in your life, your mind assumes that having a strong desire for high earnings is wrong. You self-sabotage by not exerting your ability to control, track, and ultimately grow your money.
3. Devaluing yourself
Were you ever in the running for a contract or freelance project, and you clinched the deal by lowering the actual price? Are you ashamed of charging more for your work? Most likely, the answer is no. Underearners let fear and desperation slash the value of hard work and creativity. They give away free expertise to impress potential clients. Earnings growth, however, slows or even stalls instead.
4. Feeling negative towards people who have a lot of money
What is your opinion of the wealthiest person you know? Is he “one of the coolest individuals you could ever meet” or is it more like “I know people with much less who are more [insert noble characteristic here]”? A deceptively easy way into the underearning trap is assuming you’re above it all when it comes to financial prosperity. The adage “for the love of money is the root of all evil” is taken to the point where you do not actively seek and take opportunities to build up personal funds so you can give generously.
5. Getting distracted and unfocused
Are you job hopping? Is it easy for you to give notice a few weeks into a new position? Is it hard for you to say no? Underearners tend to have fuzzy views about what they want financially because they either lack an actionable career plan or let themselves get overwhelmed at work. They fall into a set routine and haven’t yet evaluated if keeping things the same is fiscally sound.
6. Putting everyone else’s needs first
Do you feel guilty about your long work hours because it means spending less time with your family and friends ones – even though you enjoy your job? Yes, relationships requires time. Underearners, however, use the guilt from being away to justify money habits that prevent them from thriving financially: overspending, missing payment deadlines, chipping away at earnings goals, or doing zero self-care.
7. Being unwilling to be uncomfortable
What keeps you from earning your financial worth? You cannot conquer underearning without putting a stop to the attitudes that keep you from improving your thoughts about money. You are the only one with the power to make that mental shift towards the income you have always deserved!