How to have a positive attitude with a negative net worth

How to Keep a Positive Attitude with a Negative Net Worth

Tough financial times. Many of us have been there at some point. Whether your finances are strained due to hefty student loan payments, a recent job loss, unexpected medical bills, or any other hardship, you probably feel like you’re just barely getting by. Your negative net worth feels like a heavy weight that’s dragging you down.

When we made the permanent move to the states a few years ago, we were in a tough financial position. Since my husband wasn’t a US citizen at the time, he had no credit history established in the states. In order to achieve our financial goals of buying a car and a home, we needed to build both our savings and his credit as quickly as possible.

Read More: How to Build Credit from Scratch

We had saved and prepared for such a big move, but it still wasn’t enough to allow us to be comfortable for very long. Our net worth was slightly depressing at that time. We knew that we’d need to work hard and be diligent to improve our finances fast and get where we wanted to be.

Staying Positive

When you’re focused on trying to improve your financial situation, it can be so hard to keep a positive attitude. There will be times where it feels like a struggle to get ahead and make real progress.

That’s okay. Take a deep breath.

The good news is that real effort and a positive attitude will go a long way in helping you to better your financial situation. I know, because our family is living proof! Here’s how to keep a positive attitude with a negative net worth:

Review Your Budget

First, you need to have a budget. Keeping tabs on your income and spending is so important when you’re trying to improve your finances. Take time out each week to look over your budget.

If you’re in a relationship, you should absolutely be looking over your budget together. Being open and honest is essential to staying focused on your short and long-term goals.

Even if you feel bummed out at seeing a negative number under “Net Worth”, use it as motivation to keep moving forward! You can’t get ahead in a day, but all of your actions combined will eventually lead you into the green.

Check in with your budget, make sure that bills are paid on time, and track your spending to see where you can make cuts and changes.

Review Your Goals Often

Remind yourself of the goals that you’ve set. Couples should sit down and go over financial goals together every so often.

Now, think about the effort that you’ve been putting forth in order to accomplish those goals. Be honesthave you been working as hard and as smart as you can?

If the answer is yes, then keep forging ahead, knowing that you’re doing what it takes to make things happen. If the answer is “sort of, kind of, or not really”, then make a change! Don’t be afraid to try something different.


Set up smaller, actionable goals that will boost your motivation.

Do something every day to help better your situation- here are some easy ideas:

When you have someone to help keep you accountable and brainstorm ideas with, it’s easier to be honest with yourself and make the necessary moves. Enlist the help of a friend or relative to give you encouragement and to share ideas with.

Take it One Step at a Time

You know that saying- “Rome wasn’t built in a day”?

Well, a healthy net worth isn’t built up in a day either. Heck, it may take years to have your net worth where you want it to be. But, you will get there! Just take it one step at a time.

Celebrate small wins along with big ones. Paid extra on your debt this month? Awesome! Give yourself a high-five, or have a toast at dinner. Found a side-hustle that you enjoy? Great! Let the important people in your life know so that they can support you.

Your financial life is a work in progress

As long as you keep working at it and maintain a positive attitude, your net worth will improve, slowly but surely. There might be times where the progress isn’t apparent, but if you stay focused, you’re eventually going to get where you want to be.


What advice do you have for someone with a negative net worth?  How do you stay positive during tough financial times?

22 comments on “How to Keep a Positive Attitude with a Negative Net Worth

  • Worli , Direct link to comment

    Very True Lauren! Positive thinking is a powerful tool that can greatly affect your life. How you perceive events in your life has a lot to do with how you think and react to them. Being positive and thinking on good things is a choice, It could be making all the difference in your life.

  • This Week's Favorites! | The Weight Of Debt , Direct link to comment

    […] Lauren at The Write Budget shares How to Keep a Positive Attitude with a Negative Net Worth. This is so important, if only to keep your sanity when you are fighting off debt. If you let those […]

  • Edwin @ Cash Syndrome , Direct link to comment

    It’s tough to stay motivated when things aren’t going your way much, but it’s good to focus on any positive things that happen, no matter how small they are.

  • Ryan @ Impersonal Finance , Direct link to comment

    Sometimes debt is like dieting, and really want to lose all of that extra weight in one day, but you have to remind yourself that it takes time, and as long as you take the right steps and the number keeps going the direction it should, you’re making progress. Great post Lauren, because sometimes it can be really difficult to see the forest from the trees.

  • Anne @ Money Propeller , Direct link to comment

    Rome definitely wasn’t built in a day… but I am really impatient and always want to skip ahead to the success part! It’s so much easier to look around you at what other people have, or to get lost, not seeing the forest for the trees that are blocking your path.

  • debs@debtdebs , Direct link to comment

    It’s always tough when you look forward and think of the long way you have to go. But if you take it one step at a time and then look back at how far you’ve come, it is motivating. They say don’t look back and past mistakes, but do look back to see your progress.

  • Kassandra , Direct link to comment

    My humble piece of advice is to confide in someone who will be supportive about your efforts to pay down debt/improve your financial situation and share your victories with them. It feels good to share good news, no matter how big or little and have that person give you a genuine “Way to go!”.

  • E.M. , Direct link to comment

    I’m likely pretty close to negative with student loans, though I don’t track my net worth. I don’t attach much importance to it at this point. As long as you’re doing what you can to move in the right direction, you’ll get there! Keeping your eyes on the prize can help you stay motivated, and as others have said, really congratulate yourself on all the wins and progress you make. Sometimes it helps to look back along the timeline and see how far you’ve come.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money , Direct link to comment

    While I don’t calculate my net worth, I’m probably either negative or somewhere around 0 due to our student loans. While it can be a downer to think that you are in the red when everything is added up, it’s important to realize that over time you will move into the black and continue to move up and up. I use my net worth as motivation to increase my income and to move out of the red and further up in the black.

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods , Direct link to comment

    Good advice! I think it’s particularly key to stay focused on the long-term and to remember, as you say, to realize that small victories add up over time!

  • Joshua L Rodriguez , Direct link to comment

    It’s definitely tough when you’re in the red. I think the best piece of advice I can give is that while you’re following the tips above, give yourself time to breathe here and there. I remember when I was having hard times, I was constantly focusing on a hustle. I was so tired that I was unproductive most of the time and didn’t even realize it. So, it’s important to give yourself time to just sit, relax, and clear your mind.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor , Direct link to comment

    I’d say track and celebrate your progress! Positive feedback is motivating. Don’t focus on having a big enough nest egg when retirement comes along; instead, focus on meeting a goal for the next 3 or 6 months. And always be looking for and open to opportunity. A lot can happen between now and retirement!

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde , Direct link to comment

    The best advice I give is to celebrate the little successes. Most people want fast and big results; however, the reality is that it is small results over time that will reverse your net worth statement and the small celebrations help keep you on track and staying positively focused.

    • Lauren , Direct link to comment

      Definitely. Even if the results aren’t immediately obvious, those little steps go a long way!

  • John @Sprout Wealth , Direct link to comment

    Good post Lauren! I remember what it was like for us when we were first starting out and dealing with this. The communication aspect is huge and should not be overlooked. I also like the small and actionable goals, we used that a lot to get the ball rolling to build momentum. That also helped us find ways to bring in extra money which, of course, helped increase the momentum for us.

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