Sunday, November 5, 2017

11 Success and Entrepreneurial Tips for Getting Out of Poverty

How's it going my peeps?  This post is inspired by a recent reading of a article: Stock market boom and all, the poor are getting poorer in America.  I knew things were pretty bad in the U.S. with respect to wealth inequality, but not this bad!  The U.S. now has enough people living at the poverty line or below to match the entire population of Central America: 41.7 million!  Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans living in extreme poverty continues to rise as well.  Almost half of that 41.7 million (45.6%) are in the extreme poverty group, defined as making half the income of the poverty threshold.  Ex: Family of four, poverty line is $24K per year.  Extreme poverty is $12K per year.  

Extreme poverty is on the rise over the last 20 years. | Pew Research Center

To say that this is a national problem would be an understatement.  It's a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions more like it for a country as wealthy as ours.  I don't want to cast blame, debate the politics of poverty, or start any sort of pity party here.  Instead I want to contribute some tips that may be of help for people living in poverty.  I've been there myself.  As an immigrant family in the early 1980s, my parents struggled to put food on the table and make the rent on our 1-bedroom apartment.  It was rough going for many years.  But we overcame our situation thankfully and got out of the poverty zone for good.  Anyways, onto my tips for you:

1)  The most important of all tips is that if you're living at or below the poverty line, you must have a desire and a mindset to want to escape poverty.  You must make a commitment to never give up on yourself no matter how bad things get.

2)  You can eat whatever food you can afford EXCEPT soda, beer, sugary drinks, pastries, and fried foods excessively.  Having good health is of extreme importance for getting out of poverty.  My mom could've fed us food cooked with lard and other junk foods accessible in America, but she chose to make lentils, pinto beans from the pot (water), potatoes, and to drain out the oil from the carne molida (ground beef).  To drink we had Tang or Kool Aid but with little sugar, or milk.  Bad health = permanent poverty.

Nicole Moore/Data source: U.S. Census

3) Smarten up.  Decide what you want to be doing if you weren't forced to do what you currently do to earn an income.  Go to the library and read everything about your chosen area on the Internet or in books.  But don't do this forever.  You need to take action at some point.  Make sure you also read literature on interviewing skills.

4)  Apply for a better job.  With what you've learned about your picked field of new employment, go out and start applying for a better job.  Write an honest and sincere Introduction letter to attach to your resume or application.  State what financial challenges you've lived through and how these have given you inspiration, drive, and determination to provide the best service possible to any new employer.

5)  End the bad relationships or affiliations with negative mindset people.  Trying to "come-up" will make you an outcast in your community no doubt.  If possible, move out to another neighborhood where people don't know you and this time don't befriend hopelessly poor people.  Or stay in your current neighborhood but accept that you will be "mean-mugged" (ugly stare) everywhere you go and talked about by everyone around you for "trying to be better" than everyone else.

6)  Consider entrepreneurship.  If Mexican immigrant families can sell elotes (corn on a stick) and tamales out of the trunk of their cars at the Walmart or supermarket, you can start a side-business too.  Can you bake a hell of a chocolate chip cookie?  Are your cupcakes to die for?  Can you make soap?  How about having mad skills in knitting or sewing?  You are good at something.  You just have to think hard, set timely goals, create an action plan, and take action.  These little projects can be the beginning of some breathing room for you and your family.

7)  Scale up.  After you have proven your concept (people are buying what you're selling, go from canvassing your neighborhood or localities for sales to a booth at a local weekly event such as a Farmer's market, or get a kiosk spot at a mall.  If you can afford a mobile unit, get one.  Get the word out for your new service or product via a Facebook page and run sponsored ads for people in your area.  If you can get on Shopify or E-bay and sell to online customers then you are onto something great!

8)  Manage your money like you're still in poverty.  Getting some added money from either a raise, better job, or from a small business that is profitable doesn't make it okay for you to start "livin' the good life."  Wrong!  You are to continue to operate as if you're still living in poverty.  Getting a better used car is acceptable (key word, "used").  Getting a better but rent comparable apartment is also okay, especially if you've improved your level of safety and security.  Not okay...buying a big TV, getting cable, cell phone upgrade you don't need, clothing not related to your new job or line of work, etc.  Main point: Don't splurge on crap.  Stay away from rent-to-own spots too!

9)  Start making bigger payments on your debt.  Don't over do it, but with extra cash coming in you should now be getting on a payback program.  Start making more than the minimum payment on your high interest credit cards if you still have any activated.  Pay back the people you owe if you've taken private loans from the local money lender.  Debt is the ball and chain in poverty.  It doesn't matter how much money you make, if you can't get rid of bad debt, you'll be technically poor forever.

10)  Save money for once so you never have to go back to the Payday loan store.  Create an emergency fund at a local credit union or bank with low fees so you can fall back on something if you should lose your job again.  Make it a six month amount of all living expenses.  Never revert to the habits that kept you poor.  Borrowing is a bad habit!

11) Get help with your childcare needs.  I know how hard many people have it (especially women) with getting childcare so they can do what they need to do to keep their family fed, clothed, and housed.  Heck, my parents used to leave me and my sister alone from 5:30 p.m. until past midnight when they got back from work.  This was in the 1980s so child laws weren't as enforced.  Today, forget about it.  This is child endangerment.  So can you find a relative who can help with your kids?  How about going to the local community center and seeing if they have low-income drop-in options?

Above all, stay strong and positive.  A wise man once said, "The only things we have absolute control over are our thoughts."  That man was the great, Napoleon Hill.  It's true!  Poverty is as much a state of mind as a reality for some people.  I'd say conquering a poverty mindset is 90% of the solution to getting rid of poverty in your life once in for all.  What are your own thoughts on poverty?  What other tips would you give someone living at or below the poverty lines?  Thanks for reading!

My Book Mentor:  If you haven't read this book, you're not really trying!

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