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Do you know if you are heading for financial disaster?
I knew I had problems but thought I would be OK. I mean, that sort of thing happens to other people, not me. Right? I figured I’d sort something our or something would come along to change where I was heading.
This wasn’t a fun way to live, let me tell you. I mean, I was living from pay check to pay check, always hoping I’d find whatever money I needed to pay the bills. Like I state on my About page, I was in debt and living a life that didn’t satisfy me. I wish I knew then what I now know; life would have been so much easier!
Of course, I wasn’t alone but that wasn’t much comfort, I can tell you! Statistics show that nearly one in two Americans are in serious financial problems due to their debt levels. This shows that the problem is really widespread.
To help you identify where you might be going wrong, we’re going to look at some of the more common financial mistakes people make. If you identify that you might be heading for financial disaster like I was, we’ll give you strategies to turn things around.
10 Reasons Why You’re Broke If you always seem to have more month than cash, then it’s time to look at why. See if you can identify with any of these statements:
- I spend more than I earn
- I don’t have a household budget
- I use credit cards all the time to buy everyday essentials like food, gas, transport.
- I use store cards to get the specials
- I don’t track what I spend my money on
- I don’t have an emergency fund
- I don’t regularly save anything from my wages
- I don’t have a retirement account yet
- I only pay the minimum amounts on credit cards
- I have numerous credit cards
- I often make credit repayments late
- I spend ‘windfalls’ rather than save
Or, how about impulse shopping? Do you have items in your house that you never use? Do you buy things you didn’t know you wanted until you saw them in the store?
What about signs? Can you see any of these in your financial affairs?
- Bills that are overdue – this is a classic early sign that you are in trouble
- “Robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
- Difficulty meeting basic family needs
- Counting on tax returns or pay increases to ease your financial situation
- Lying about spending or anything else to do with finances.
- Saying things like ‘we’ll find a way to pay for it’; ‘it’ll be right, we’ll manage’; ‘I’ll borrow if I have to’.
So, how did you do? Did you find anything that applies to you?
Identifying problems is the first step to correcting your financial direction. The second step is to make some changes. The sooner you take action to alter your path, the better. Continuing as you are at the moment is a recipe for disaster, so lets give you a recipe for success.
Create a Budget
If you don’t have an up-to-date budget, create one. This was the first step for me.
If your budget doesn’t balance, find ways to cut your spending or increase your household’s income. Look for where you’re spending on non-important things. Cut a bit from several areas rather than a big amount off one.
If your budget doesn’t have a savings amount, put one in. Adjust your spending if you have to. Also include an emergency fund and contributions to a retirement account, even if just small amounts at first.
Pay with Cash
Start to pay cash for living expenses. When you buy everyday items with a credit card and then don’t pay off the full balance each month, you are buying very expensive food and gas.
Avoid using store cards; they usually have excessively high interest rates and this negates any savings you might make.
Pay Bills On Time
Use your budget to help you make every payment on time. This eliminates the expense of overdue fees. Always pay more than the minimum on credit cards, even if just a few dollars; this will save you money in interest.
I also find scheduling payments either online or with a teller at your bank works great at avoiding late fees and added interest. I do this with all of my bills and it works great.
Slash Your Credit Cards
Start getting rid of the credit cards. Stop using all but one or two; make all the minimum repayments and throw as much extra onto the smallest balance until it’s paid off. Repeat with every card; cut them up and close the account when the balance is zero.
Above all, be honest about your financial situation. This was hard for me. I had to admit that I had a problem that needed fixing. None of us like telling ourselves we made a mistake but that is life. Deal with it.
Talk to your partner and even your kids if they are old enough to get the concept. Ask for everyone’s cooperation to help get your financial problems turned around. Stop making excuses, don’t justify your situation and avoid adding more debt into the mix.
|Bottom Line: If you have identified any signs that you are heading for financial disaster, you now have no excuse for failing to take action. Never ignore any of these warning signs. Take immediate action, even if it starts out as small baby steps. Once you start to turn things around, you will find the momentum with gather and it will become much easier.If you ignore these warning signs, it will be you who is to blame when things get worse. And they will get worse if you don’t take action now.|
So, what is the status of your financial situation? Are you headed for disaster? Or, if you are on the right track, what did you do to get there? What strategies did you find helped you avoid financial disaster?
This was exactly our situation two years ago. WE do have a budget but the budget was just enough to buy food and pay our utilities. We do not have any savings and cannot go on holiday vacation simply because we cannot afford it. But we have to make a move so we decided to get rid of our credit cards.
That is a really good decision and you should be commended for that. It isn’t easy to get rid of that plastic. Many people use it as a security blanket. I am glad you have gotten rid of the source of the problem. That takes courage but it is well worth it.
Two and a half years ago the ’10 reasons’ why one is broke applied to us completely. At the moment none of them applies but we still don’t have large emergency fund – I build it up and then put it against the negative wealth (debt, but I have sworn to use this word as little as possible). This is not reckless but a calculated decision – at the moment it makes more sense. This is how we have paid off over $100,000 debt in two and a half years.
That is amazing Maria. I don’t think that was a bad decision at all. You have eliminated your debt and your interest payments which really adds up quickly. I too was in a similar situation a few years ago and had to make some serious changes. I am so glad I did and I am sure you are too.
Financial issues is a family’s concern, every member is affected and should participate to lessen the burden.
I agree. Everyone has to work as a team and do their part to contribute to the solution. If one person doesn’t cooperate and continues to spend and incur debt, then the situation is never going to change.
These are some great pointers and I totally agree with you that the first step is identifying that you have a problem. If you can’t admit that then changing your habits is extremely hard.
Yup. I know so many people living in denial that I just feel so bad for them. If only they could see their reality; things could be so much better for them.
All of the signs that you listed did actually apply to me at one point, and living with them was awful. I love all of your tips. My favorite is paying with cash. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing this, and now I can sleep at night. Great post!
Glad to hear you have also turned your life around Anthony. Making changes sooner rather than later always pays off.
Good for you with using cash for everything. It is a great way to stay on track.
I’m shocked at how many people don’t really know their net income, or how much they spend each month.
It’s crazy hey?! We watch our budget closely and know exactly where we are at. It would feel so strange to not know.
I am used to tracking everything in my life, not just finances. It seems like a natural thing to do to me.
I’m digging myself out of a debt hole, which means I don’t do any of the red flags above. I can definitely say that I had the potential to develop some of those habits. I’m very thankful that I never did.
That is awesome. I am glad you cleaned up your act while you are young and have a chance to recover. It is so important to get on the right track early.
I have been there too Jeremy so don’t feel bad. I am glad you have made some positive changes. Your future self will thank you.
We use our credit cards for everything too. The rewards are great. Like you say as long as you pay off the balance in full every month, there is no issue with this.
We use Quicken to keep track of our finances. You should check it out.
Sounds like a good idea.
I am so glad to hear that you got out early so to speak and made changes to your life. This is great news because you are still young and have time to really make a difference to your financial future. Keep up the good work.
I agree that you were not alone. It is unfortunately that so many people are in that precarious position. I think the admonition at the end is very important. You have to rid yourself of the excuses and own you mess before things will get better.
I like to make that my philosophy for life. We need to be proactive and accountable.
I think these are excellent tips. The big thing for a lot of people is 1) recognition that there is a problem, and 2) having the guts to admit there is a problem. Then, it’s 3) actually doing something about it. It can be challenging, and daunting for some.
I think the guts to admit is where people get hung up. No one likes the feeling of knowing the made a mistake.
Oh I have so been there — my first step was to stop using cards, then set up a snowball.
Me too. My credit cards were my demise. The scissors fixed that.
I find the people who are in most trouble are the ones that have no idea what their spending looks like. I’ve helped a few folks and when I asked how much to you earn..they usually have a number, but when I ask, what are your monthly expenses…they have no idea what the total number is.
Taking the head out of the sand is a great first step. Once you have awareness, the rest will come with some planning and effort.
I agree. If you don’t track the ins and outs of your money, you don’t really notice what happens to it or where things are headed. Keeping track is a major must. I use Quicken and love it.