Did you know that when crabs are trapped in a bucket that they will undermine each other to hold everyone back? It’s called crab mentality.
Crazy, right? Why wouldn’t you all try to get out? You’re about to be eaten!
If you were stuck, wouldn’t you want out? And, why would you hold someone else back who wanted out?
Crab mentality isn’t limited to crabs, if you hadn’t already guessed. Crab mentality occurs in many facets of life that can hold you back financially. Crab mentality can contribute to overspending to keep up with those crab Joneses. George Carlin explains this phenomenon better than I can.
Here are common places where you can find crabs.
Saddled with student loans, credit cards, cars, mortgages, and kids, you might find your workplace is full of crabs. Desperate to keep working to afford those monthly payments, your crab coworkers might just stop at nothing to keep their jobs. Any whiff of change that could result in massive change (often for the better!) is quickly rejected in favor of job security (or the perception of job security, anyway).
On the weekends, you could find yourself going out to a seafood dinner full of crabs. Maybe your friends are much like your coworkers. Maybe your coworkers are your friends. Temporarily escaping from the 9-5 cage is actually a trap and you’re in another cage, a spending trap (if you will).
When we started our blog and began paying off credit card debt, a family member known for being bad with money asked us for a $15,000 personal loan to pay his own credit card debt, as if though we had money and would be willing to make such a loan. Chances are good that if you’ve been in the bucket long enough, you’re related to the other crabs holding you back.
How are some ways you might consider getting rid of your crabs.
1. Realize change is hard.
Change isn’t comfortable and you’re likely to encounter a lot of resistance early on. Crabs you know today will try to drag you back into the life you’re living and you might be seduced by the notion of comfort. Don’t fall for the trap!
2. Find a community of like-minded people who broke free of the traps.
Change is hard, so it’s important that you find a community of like-minded people who can help support you in your newfound way of living. The Internet can facilitate this as well as some community organizations, small businesses, and meetup groups. Find people who resemble the change you seek.
3. Decide what habits you want to change that reflect your new crab-free life.
When you’ve decided to change your life, minimizing exposure to crabs and crab-related spending is a natural consequence. Replace your old spendy ways with better things to do with your time, like volunteering, hiking, or starting a side hustle — just find something positive to do that can help you avoid spending traps.
4. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Making meaningful progress can mean having difficult conversations letting people know that not only are you making changes but you aren’t going to enable theirs by sticking around and doing things the way you’ve always done.
5. Read books that give you new ways to rid yourself of crabs.
Read The Groovy Guide to Financial Independence and become a Personal Responsibility Warrior. You can pick up this ebook from Amazon. Start doing what you can today to make progress on some of the advice Mr. Groovy has to offer you. Eventually, you’ll break free from the life you previously spent as a crustacean and make progress on the path to financial independence/early retirement.
6. Practice mindfulness.
Do you have to avoid all the crabs all the time? Not necessarily. This post is meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek.
Really, you just have to be mindful of your choices because your choices impact your spending and your spending impacts your ability to achieve your goals.
Realize when someone else decides to upgrade a car or buy a new home that you don’t necessarily have to. Know that bringing your lunch to work is OK to do more often than not, even if everyone is going out for tacos. Updating your wardrobe each season (or even each year) isn’t a requirement.
Everyone you know will eventually adjust and those who don’t adjust, well…that’s where your new community of like-minded friends comes in to throw support your way.