It's unclear where the idea of poverty mentality originated, but one of the earliest motivational speakers to talk about it was Zig Ziglar. Poverty mentality is a mindset about money that develops over time – it is a “poor me” attitude that stems from a deep-seated belief that there is never enough. Persistent thoughts and comments such as "I can't afford this..." and "I'll never have enough money to have that..." may turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You may have already observed that poor people tend to talk a lot about how great their lack is and how lousy things are. They will tell you all day long how the world has gone to the dogs, how they never get a break, and how their employer (if they have one) is cheap and unfair. Worst of all, they think that none of this plight is their fault. They fail to see the connection between how they think and how their life looks. They see themselves as victims in a cruel world and don’t believe anything is ever going to change. They genuinely view themselves as destined to be shackled to a life of poverty—unless of course, they win the lottery. This is true poverty mentality! When you have a poverty mentality, you’re stuck, and you are unlikely to see any kind of positive changes in your financial situation (or in your life) until you get rid of it.

Zig Ziglar is one of the earliest people to note that focusing on what is missing in one's life instead of focusing on what one has can only lead to further poverty. Ziglar and others who share his viewpoint believe that those who break out of poverty and really succeed are those who make a conscious choice to do so--they believe in themselves, have a plan, and use dogged determination and perseverance to achieve what they want.

What are the signs of poverty mentality?

The decisions of those who have a poverty mentality are rarely if ever made based on what the possible benefits are, but are made in order to avoid a possible negative outcome. There are certain characteristics they have in common:

Constant fixation on money or the lack of it
 An anti rich people attitude
 Fear-based decision making

Constant Fixation on Money. Those with a poverty mentality spend all their time thinking about money (or more specifically, their lack of it) as well as what they don’t have and don’t believe they can ever get. They are addicted to a deprivation outlook.

An " I'm Against Rich People Attitude" - Being jealous of what others have is a common characteristic. Jealousy often turns into resentment over nice homes, fancy cars, expensive clothes and other signs of prosperity exhibited by others. Paradoxically, as much as rich people may be resented or even hated, those with poverty mentality are usually working hard every day to become one of them.

Fear-Based Decision-Making - Making decisions based on fear of loss or failure further undermines confidence in self and can rob a person of any sense of happiness or success. Unless decisions are made free of conflict at the deepest core of one’s being, there can be little confidence that a decision is really a good one.

If financial issues are a constant in your life, perhaps it is time to ask yourself what your real attitudes about money are and what your default programming might be. Until those change, your financial situation is unlikely to change.

Author's Bio: 

Judith Albright, MA, is a stress management specialist in Fort Collins, CO who uses tapping and other energy healing techniques to help people neutralize stress and change underlying beliefs that are sabotaging their lives. For more information about Judith and her work visit