01/17/2013 02:25 pm ET Updated Mar 19, 2013

Common 'Cents': Money Tips for the Working Poor

It's no fun being poor. It seems as if our society mandates through what we see on television that only those who have money can smile and have a good time. Well, today, I want to dispel this false notion for those who are working poor...this class of people that seem to be the most neglected in most national political, economic, and social discussions. Today, if you are "working poor" the first thing I want you to learn is "contentment."

I know what many of you are thinking. Many of you are thinking that contentment means, "I am happy to be poor." This couldn't be further from the truth. Contentment means that despite my current situation; despite the fact you may work two jobs but still have very little money in the bank; despite the fact that your children complain about leftovers not recognizing that you barely have enough to cover the food bill... despite all this and more you have the ability to smile.

Yes... I said smile. "If things are so bleak, how can I smile?" you may ask. Well, the answer is simple and is found in contentment. Contentment doesn't mean I am happy WITH my current state, it means I am happy in spite. OF my current state. The most important element within contentment is faith. Faith says that you can smile today, because you know that if you work hard today this hard work will bring brighter days tomorrow. Faith within contentment gives one the realization that you are not smiling at what is seen; you are smiling at what is unseen and what will be tomorrow.

Faith within contentment gives you the ability to discern the difference between truth and fact. Facts are scientifically proven bits of information. You can prove facts, you can see facts, and there is no doubt in the existence of facts. However, the truth is not necessarily seen. Let me explain through a story:

I once had a dear friend who had throat cancer and was diagnosed with only a few months to live. The doctor gave her the facts of her case. The charts showed she did have cancer, the doctor ran tests that confirmed she did have cancer, and the second opinion of another doctor all pointed to the facts... she had cancer. Facts showed that almost all who contrived this form of cancer passed away within months. She knew the facts, but she decided to believe the "truth."

Her "truth" said to her "by His stripes we are healed" so she decided to believe she was already healed. She acted accordingly. She took whatever medicine the doctor gave her. She kept a positive mindset. She even tried to workout despite being severely weakened by the treatment and illness and despite what the doctor told her. Her doctors told her family to keep her comfortable in her "final days". She told her family to not even think about preparing for her death, but to prepare for her to live. How did she do? Her diagnosis was over 10 years ago and today she is still traveling across the country telling her story of how she defeated terminal throat cancer. How did she do it? She did it by making the conscious decision to believe the "truth" over the "facts." The facts didn't account for the will and the spirit that were inside her...only the truth accounted for her internal fortitude. Today she lives because of the truth, not the facts.

So as you look at your bank account, and you see only a few dollars in your account, know that you are only seeing the facts. Know that amount that you see on your statement is factually correct, but it doesn't take into account the truth. That truth is that you have the ability to change what your statement says. The truth is that you should be smiling today despite what the facts say because you choose to believe in the truth... this is the essence of contentment.

So now that we have accepted contentment as the feeling I want you to possess, here are the feelings that I want you to shake off:

Guilt - Whatever happened in the past is the past. I need you to eliminate all worry about who you were, what mistakes you have made, and any poor decisions you have made to get you to where you are today. Remove this yoke of guilt around your neck and feel free to embrace that person you have, starting right now, decided to become.
Shame - You have no reason to be ashamed. There are many who share your circumstances and some even worse. The only time you have permission to feel shame is if you lose all hope and stop trying to improve your situation. Only quitters should feel shame. Quitting is the epitome of selfishness because you are not only robbing yourself of success, but you are robbing others of the blessings you would have been able to generate through hard work and persistence.
Worry - Although it is hard to stop worrying, understand that worrying results in no tangible forward momentum. Worrying is only successful in causing ulcers.
Fear - Exchange this dose of fear for a double dose of faith. Fear only inhibits your ability to be productive. With fear you will find that you are continuously talking yourself out of performing viable solutions for your situation because of fear of failure. Faith enables you to put forth maximum effort in a tough situation.

There is a reason that this is the first money tip for the "working poor." Sure, I could have jumped right into the technical information, but before I begin with the factual substance of sound money management I wanted to address the fundamental issues that will allow you to be successful. Contentment, faith, hope, and enough love for yourself and community to never give up... these are all core traits that are crucial when developing a financial plan. Also if I can be candid, I must admit to the selfish reason for writing this piece. I understand that in the village (community), our successes are linked together. If you are all you can be, it will be easier for me to be all I can be... a greater you equals a greater me. I pray every day for your success and pray that the following tips in this series, while certainly not a silver bullet for your success, will help you to at least get just one step closer to victory. God bless you and keep the faith... smile!