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Tired of Feeling Poor?

3 simple tricks when you're feeling the financial pinch

By Mary Hunt and

(This article previously appeared on

It’s no secret that more people in their 60s and older are sinking deeper into credit card debt these days. Why is this? I don’t think it’s because we’ve had so many emergencies (the common reason we all have credit cards, right?). I think the problem, in part, has to do with emotional well-being.

It’s because we don’t want to feel poor.

At this point I should define this term, “feeling poor.” Not easy. But it’s real, and I’ll bet you’ve felt it from time to time. It’s a sad, sorry feeling of inferiority. It’s that feeling you get when faced with an invitation to join all of your friends for a chichi lunch and you have $8.43 to your name. It’s that feeling you get when you hear your friends are taking a Caribbean cruise and you can barely scrape together gas money to visit your grandchildren.

(MORE: 27 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Saving Money)

The worst response when feeling poor is to do the very thing that should prove you’re not: Spend money. Sure, that might make the feeling go away for a time. But as soon as you realize you’ve just plunged yourself deeper into debt, you’ll feel even poorer. It’s a vicious cycle that comes to no good end.

I have a better idea: Stop feeling poor in the first place. Here are three surprising steps to follow; I guarantee that if you do them, you'll start feeling different:

1. Commit to a Clean Car.

No matter how old, how scratched, how new, how leased or how ugly, if you keep your car sparkling clean inside and out, you won’t feel poor.

Remove every coffee cup, every paper and every item other than the emergency equipment in the trunk every time you leave the car. Wash it weekly. Make sure the windows are always spotless, the tires scrubbed and the chrome shiny. Do this and you’ll feel like a million bucks. Really.

(MORE: 10 Simple Car Hacks to Make Your Life Easier)

2. Curb the Clutter.


I don’t care how clean your house may be; if you have clutter, it’s pulling you down. It invites chaos, which leads to depression and feelings of deprivation. So, clear your closets, drawers, cupboards, garage and counters of everything that you don’t need or doesn’t bring beauty to your life (and while you're at it, sell the stuff on eBay or Craigslist to make some extra cash).

Clean, open spaces radiate tranquility and simplicity, chase away feelings of poverty and open the door to joy.

(MORE: Take the 30-Day Declutter Challenge)

3. Tuck Away a C-Note.

Get a $100 bill, fold it neatly and tuck it into a secret place in your wallet. Do not tell anyone about this. Just like that, your c-note is going to make you feel prosperous and quite smart. You will not feel broke, because here’s the curious thing: You are not likely to spend it on a whim. In fact, you are not likely to spend it at all. But if you get caught in a true emergency, you’re covered.

Feeling poor is not a financial condition. It is a state of mind and something you can change starting right now.

What do you do to help you feel financially flush? Leave your comment below.

Mary Hunt is a money expert and founder of the financial web site Debt-Proof Living, where she helps people mange their money wisely. To read more of Mary's money advice, click here.

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