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Breaking Poverty Addiction - The Journal

Doug Setter

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Have you ever wondered how some people work and study hard, but still end up having little to show for it? Health guru, Paul Bragg once mentioned that poverty was an illness. His concept was that fiscal health and physical health were both a result of habits.

As a kid, teen and adult, I could stretch a dollar from here until next week. I had no addictions to gambling, booze, drugs or expensive items. I had finished high school, joined the army, later attended college and finally university. Yet, I would make the wrong business and investment choices and I would find myself scraping by time and again. It just did not make sense.

One of my turning points was reading the book, Earn What You Deserve by Jerry Mundis. He considered poverty a negative behavior like any other addiction. He even drew a parallel to the AA's 12 steps of recovery. While I rejected the whole “we are powerless" approach, I did pick up on three destructive behaviors that many impoverished people have:

1. Refusing to accept money.
2. Giving money away.
3. Accepting low pay.

The mere thought of accepting money for something that I put little value on just did not jive. It always felt that it was stealing or an unworthy act. For some reason I always saw it as kind of panhandling or it was just one of those impolite things to do. One of the toughest things that I ever allowed myself to do was to ask for more money.

The second idea of giving money away was also a problem. There is this strange obligation in some people to always give away their time and money. While charity is noble, some of us are too quick to hand out our hard-earned dollars or precious time to unimportant materials or events. This might be doing too many favours for other people or wasting money on non-productive items, such as expensive magazine ads for low priced products.

The last concept that haunted me was the bad habit of accepting low pay. I have fixed pipes, installed electrical wires, moved furniture, taught fitness, grabbed shop lifters, cut concrete, painted houses, dug trenches, changed diapers on a mentally handicapped patient, etc. All for ridiculously low wages. There was also long commutes to poor working conditions “until something better came along. " The fact of the matter was, I made more money doing things that I enjoyed.

So, I set up a behavior-changing plan. I set up a journal with dates and three headings, so it looked like this:


Date: _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _

Every day I put a check mark under each heading. (Or rather I attempted to put a check under each column. ) When I did, I mentioned how and why. For example, if I had some old books, I would try to exchange them or get some money for them before trying to give them away. If I was offered money for a favor, I would force myself to at least take some of it. When I was approached to do a job that took up my time and training, I waited for a good offer.

This is not to say that the process was easy. It requires staying constantly vigilance on where my time, effort and money goes. Now, having said all of that, there is an up-side to all of this. I found that I started getting better ideas and taking more opportunities regarding my money situation. Without sounding too mysterious, sometimes coincidences pop up and luck seemed to come my way.

Like a consistent dieter, I sometimes went astray. Sometimes, I refused to accept money for my knowledge or time or I needlessly spent money by taking unnecessary trips. Rather than wallow in self-disgust, I found it better just to keep pushing forward. Progress was the key, not perfection.

Good luck with your progress. I welcome your comments.

Doug Setter holds a Bachelor's of Human Ecology. He has served as a paratrooper and U. N. Peacekeeper, has completed 5 full marathons and climbed Mt. Rainier. He consults clients in weight-loss, muscle-gain, stomach-flattening, kick-boxing and personal protection. He is the author of Stomach Flattening, Reduce Your Alcohol Craving and One Less Victim. Visit his website:


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