Have you ever gone through a phase where you feel you’re doing everything right, making the necessary changes and sacrifices; but nothing seems to be changing or better yet improving?
You almost feel like you’re on a hamster wheel going ‘round in circles with your finances and you just feel stuck. Everything is moving around you; families are going on vacations; friends are rocking the latest trends; and here you are….stuck. Stuck with the same bills, stuck in the same job or position, stuck in this thing we call life. You know better than to compare yourself to what’s happening on social media, but you just can’t help it! You’re asking yourself…what’s the problem? What am I doing wrong or differently that has me here and everyone else over there?
Well, financially it could be one (or both) of two issues: an income or a money management issue.
So, how do you determine which issue has you stuck? A quick little analysis of your finances can yield the answer in just a few minutes by forcing you to focus on developing a solution rather than focusing on the negativity of being stuck.
How to identify an income issue?
There’s good and bad news about having an income issue.
The good news is that you’re doing the right things when it comes to managing money, so all your focus can go into generating more income. The bad news is that sometimes it’s hard to get more income and often comes with sacrificing more of your time by either picking up a second job, working more hours at your current job,or looking for a completely new job.
If you answer yes to most of these questions, you probably have an income issue.
- Have you cut almost all unnecessary expenses like cable, expensive gym memberships, eating out, etc.; but are continuing to live paycheck to paycheck?
- Have you developed a realistic budget and have actively used it for at least three months, and have not been able to either save money or make a dent in any debt?
- Do you continually carry over bills each month because you are unable to pay all of your bills in one month?
- If an emergency (i.e. car accident or hospital visit) occurred today would that set you back financially for months?
- Does your social life suck because you never have enough money to do anything?
Here’s a couple of quick solutions that could help with the process of dealing with the income issue:
- If you’re contributing to a 401K or any sort of retirement plan, put it on hold temporarily (not forever and hopefully not longer than a year) until you’re able to generate enough income to not only pay your bills, but also allow a little bit of wiggle room for debt reduction and savings.
- Find ways to cut expenses around the house such as unplugging any unused devices when not in the house to reduce the electric bill; walk (as much as you can) or ride public transportation to work or to run errands to reduce gas expenses; or temporarily cut your phone’s data plan to save on cell phone expenses.
Remember that these are quick, temporary solutions that will basically buy you time until you’re able to generate the income needed to get you back on track with working towards your financial goals. The most important thing you’ll have to do is determine the opportunity costs and the amount of sacrifices you’ll need to get the income you need. This could be deciding whether to go back to school, picking up a second job, or asking your boss for a well deserved raise.
There’s also good and bad news about having a money management issue. The good news is that you have the income needed to get going with your financial goals. The bad news is that by improperly managing your money it doesn’t feel like it because your money’s being wasted.
Here’s how you can identify if you have a money management issue:
If you answer yes to most of these questions, you may have a money management issue.
- Do you have a budget, but deviate from it frequently (i.e. regularly going over your budgeted amounts)?
- Is it hard for you to identify the difference between a want and a need? (i.e. “I need those new pair of shoes” or “I need cable because that’s the only fun thing I have”).
- Do you often incur bank fees or have a lot of “unknown” expenses?
- Are you unable to pay down debt or save money?
Here are a few tips on how to deal with money management issues:
- Take time to think about what your financial goals are. Write down your long term goals and create short term goals that will allow you to achieve the long term ones.
- Review your budget to see where you’re going wrong. It may be as simple as tweaking a few numbers or you may find you need to create a brand new budget that’s more realistic for what you’re trying to achieve.
- Regularly review your bank accounts (try daily or every other day) to ensure you’re staying on top of what’s going on in your checking account to avoid fees.
- Have money transferred to your savings account automatically.
Once you get on top of managing money, you’ll start to see a significant change in your financial situation. Managing money with the right amount of income can lead to great things!
I always say (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) that acknowledging the problem is the first step towards change. When you acknowledge that you have an income/money management issue you put yourself ahead of the game because now you can focus on the change needed to improve your financial situation.
If you’ve ever dealt with an income or money management issue what steps did you take to change your situation?
Ashley Narcisse is the founder of Budget Brain Consulting where she focuses on making budgeting easy.
Her mission is to be an asset to the community by providing accurate and quality financial and money management services while maintaining a high level of integrity and adhering to a uniform code of ethics.