Here’s the thing, no matter what end of the income spectrum you fall, you’re not immune to money issues. Because here’s the thing, money is a thing. Money doesn’t care about you or me or your neighbor. Money doesn’t care what you look like, what kind of car your drive, or if you went to college.
The only time money matters, is when it’s in the hands of people. We (the people) are the ones that place value on money – and I’m not just talking about monetary value. The way we use our money reflects some of our deepest values and hidden struggles. Mix in the fact that we pretty much live in a “throw-away” culture, where it’s actually cheaper to just buy something brand new than to purchase the parts to fix it, and you’ve got a recipe for a constant battle with money.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I have all the solutions to every money issue out there nor am I going to pretend that if you follow the five solutions below that you’ll never find yourself in another money issue . I mean we are talking about life and life has it’s ups and downs that can’t be predicted.
But I can tell you that if you develop positive money habits, you’ll place yourself in a better position when it comes to handling any issues that life throws at you.
5 Money issues and their solutions:
1. Unable to make ends meet.
This is actually the biggest money issue facing most American families today – making ends meet. Most Americans feel like there simply isn’t enough money to last them through the month. Many families today are struggling to pay their basic bills – mortgage/rent, utilities, and groceries – let alone saving money for a rainy day.
I can’t promise you the perfect solution to this problem because there are many variables that are going to be specific to your situation. However, I can tell you that if you don’t have a working budget that fits your real life, then you’re going to continue to struggle to make ends meet.
I know many folks believe that because they never go negative in their bank account that they’re doing okay without using a budget. The problem though is that without a budget, your money isn’t exactly working for you. If you don’t have a budget, you don’t have any money allocated towards your goals. Goals like, traveling, saving for a down payment, or even paying for your kids’ college tuition. Without a budget, achieving your goals will be difficult.
Solution: Make a budget and actively manage the budget. This isn’t going to be perfect and may take a few months to really get the hang of it, but it’s the single best thing you can do for your money and family.
2. Not thinking about tomorrow.
Okay, so this is a big one that I still struggle with today – living for today instead of actively planning for tomorrow. Here’s the thing, in a recent survey by the Federal Reserve from the beginning of 2017, 40% of Americans responded that a lack of savings was their biggest financial regret, and another 36% said they feared they would not be able to retire comfortably.
In this same survey 24% responded that they have given little thought to retirement planning and another 25% have given absolutely no thought to retirement planning at all. The problem with this is beyond just retirement planning – if your family hits a huge “bump in the road” like a major medical emergency, you’ll have no real cash to help bail your family out.
In my opinion, this is one of the biggest reasons why so many families sink themselves into debt – they live too much for today and fail to save for tomorrow. And before long, they are so far down in the hole that they couldn’t even save a $100 if they wanted too because they have no cash left over at the end of the month.
Solution: Sit down today, and write down where you want to be financially in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. Write down how old you’ll be to help put things in perspective. Then write down 3-5 actions you need to take TODAY to start putting things in motion to achieve those goals.
3. Building debt instead of wealth.
This goes along with 1 & 2 – when you build debt instead of wealth you bring yourself down. If you’ve ever calculated your net worth before, you know that the more debt you have, the less your net worth is. So, ask yourself – would you rather have a greater net worth or having to keep paying back for the things you’ve already bought, used, and probably have already thrown away?
From that same survey mentioned earlier, they asked the question on what people would do if $10,000 was given to them with no strings attached. 41% of respondents said they would pay off debt with it. In another survey by NerdWallet, the average American household owes $7,000 in credit card debt.
Trust me when I tell you that you don’t need debt. You don’t need credit cards to be happy. We’re living proof – we haven’t had a single credit card in nearly 5 years.
Solution: The choice is yours. Calculate how much money you spend every month in debt payments (credit cards, car/boat/rv loans, student loans, personal loans, or any other debts) and ask yourself what else you could do with the money. Could you invest it? Could you build up an emergency fund? Could pay for your children’s college tuition?
4. Making poor choices.
I could have used the word “decisions” instead of “choices” above, but I believe that the word “choices” paints a better picture. Because, yes when you make a purchase you are making a choice. You are choosing to spend your money on this, instead of that. Now, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with spending money.
Seriously, spending money is totally okay. But what is not okay is spending money you don’t have or spending money without really thinking about the choice behind it.
Way back when I was single and had racked up over $11,000 of credit card debt, it would be easy to tell you that I wasn’t thinking – because well, in some ways I wasn’t. I wasn’t using my brain correctly and therefore didn’t pay attention. But more accurately, I was making poor choices.
I decided that really fancy top was more important than building up a savings account. I decided that going out to eat for the 7th time that week and swiping my credit card (because let’s face it, I didn’t have any cash left from my paycheck the week before) was a better decision than just making dinner at home.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with spending money, but when you’re spending money with no budget and no plan for the future (and especially if you’re accumulating debt by spending), you’re going to start feeling a very tight noose around your wallet. Trust me, I know what the crushing weight of never having enough feels like, and I know the hardships of having pull myself out of that mess, but I also know how incredibly worth the peace of mind it is in the end.
Solution: This is part of actively managing the budget you created – you must track and pay attention to where you are spending your money and you need to ask yourself (before you make the purchase), “what else could I do with the money?”.
Now, there will be times when you have the extra money in your budget and it’s totally okay to spend guilt-free, but you still need to ask yourself the question before you spend. You may surprise yourself by how much really don’t need.
5. It’s okay to enjoy.
Just like I mentioned above – there is nothing wrong with spending money when it’s planned/saved/accounted for in the budget. But, as all Savers know, it can sometimes be really hard to spend the money you’ve saved enjoyably.
For example, we saved and we saved up money so we could buy my husband this fancy table saw (my husband is a master carpenter). The saw was just over $600 and once we had the money, I told my husband he could buy it. At first, you would have thought I just told my husband that he won the lottery or something!
But then, after about ten minutes he started saying things like, “are you sure that we can afford it?” and “are you really okay with this?” and even, “why don’t we use the money for something else?”
Here’s the thing, my husband owns his own remodeling company and he actually does need this saw so it was more than just a want. The want was the type of saw – he had been getting by with a cheaper and less reliable one for a long time. We had saved up the money for this saw so he could buy it and save himself some time and sanity. But when it came down to buying it, he started having serious anxiety about it.
It’s hard to spend the money you’ve worked hard to save up. It really is. Because you know how hard you had to work to save it up, but you also know that you can do it again.
Solution: Remember what it took for you to save up the money to buy that special something, and focus on the fact that you CAN do it again. Go in the purchase with a plan for saving for something else – it can just be a monetary goal without the purpose of buying something. When we have something to positive to look forward to, it eases anxiety.
So you tell me, what is a money issue that you’ve recently conquered? We love cheering others on and your story can help encourage others to overcome their money struggles.
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