Unless you are a billionaire these days, you may find it hard to make ends meet. Does your bank account look very empty the day before pay day? Perhaps you even go into the red, which only makes matters worse? (Why do these banks charge such ridiculous overdraft fees; you’re overdrawn because you don’t have enough money in the first place!) If only you could be making more money. That would solve everything.
No, it wouldn’t.
What kind of a money problem do you have? Is it really your income that’s to blame? Or could it be something else? Could it be a spending problem instead?
I know, I know, nobody likes to hear they’re spending too much; but that definitely could be where you are falling short every month. There is good news . . .
But, only if you want to hear it.
You CAN turn your money problem around. You have to be willing to own up to it fully. You have to recognize it for what it is and create a plan to tackle it full on. Otherwise, your money problem will just stay the way it is month after “in-the-red” month.
Many people, good people, struggle monthly with money. You work hard, you don’t take fancy vacations, you don’t even have the premier channels on your cable, but still, you find it hard to make ends meet. You and your spouse both hold jobs that are full time, but raising a family is difficult. Is it your income that is falling short or do you have a spending problem.
So, what’s the difference?
Folks who have an income problem have cut every expense they can possibly cut and still don’t have the money to make it through the month. You endlessly must decide if you want to pay this month’s electric bill or car insurance, or buy food. Your expenses have been cut to the bone, but that is still not helping.
Then, there is the spending problem. Everyone has been guilty of this at some time in their life; running up credit cards, then not being able to pay them back, buying all sorts of unnecessary frills that are way too expensive, but you just have to have them! This is a spending problem. Stopping everyday for that $6.00 coffee when you can make coffee at home.
You rationalize to yourself that it’s just a little purchase, but little purchases every day add up to one big headache at the end of the month. If you can afford them, good for you. Most people run into all sorts of trouble because they cannot stop spending.
How Do You Fix This?
The very first thing to do is to take a look at ALL of your expenses for the month. Make a list of EVERY SINGLE THING. From your mortgage or rent, utility bills, food, gas, insurance, money that goes for kid’s must-haves for school, credit cards, online purchases, store purchases, membership sites online where you pay a monthly fee, pet expenses, clothing, furniture, cars, right down to all the stuff you just must buy.
Then, add up your monthly income. When you subtract your spending from your income, don’t be surprised if you are coming up short. Like in overdraft country. But, instead of where the buffalo roam, all you see is one overdraft fee after another. Banks love people like you.
NOW, decide if your money problem is an income problem or a spending problem. Or it could be a little of both. Usually one is more to blame than the other.
If you need to increase your income, here are some suggestions:
- Take a second job.
- Ask for a raise. It may be quite some time since you’ve seen more money in your weekly paycheck. What do you have to lose by asking?
- Try working a sideline. If your husband is good at yard work, maybe he won’t mind doing landscaping for clients on the weekends.
- Work overtime. If this is available to you, take advantage of it.
- Review your W-2 withholdings. You may be able to reduce your exemptions.
- Look for a better paying job. But, hold onto the one you have until you are guaranteed another position. Only then should you submit your resignation; and be frank about why you’re leaving. You don’t pay me enough.
If you need to reduce your spending, here are some suggestions:
- Stop spending money on idiotic things. Do you really need to buy lunch five days a week, or could you take it from home? What about shopping online or at the mall every week? No one needs to fork over ridiculous money for a coffee daily. Watch what you are opening your wallet for.
- If you go on vacation, try going every other year. Save up gift cards to use when you’re away, and start a slush fund at home with coins you collect and the occasional dollar bill. You’ll be surprised at how that all adds up.
- Pay DOWN your credit cards. Then, don’t add to them. Look to see what your worst performing cards are and incorporate those balances into a card with less interest.
- Learn to say no. Just walk by or window shop. You don’t have to buy everything you see. And if you think you do, then you need help. Ask for help to show you how to get out of your money shortages.
The economy is picking up. Don’t sell yourself short. You may have said when you took that job five years ago, that you would only stay for six months. Maybe you’ve made friends there; regardless if the pay is rotten or there are little to no benefits, it’s way past time to move on.
You owe yourself and your family so much more. There are good jobs out there and if it were me, I would look to increase my income, not make excuses for the money I wish I had.