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In the last 40 years or so, financial common sense has flown out the window in our country. What happened? Our culture has changed. Today if we run out of money before the month ends, we charge our expenses, believing we’ll make it up next month by spending less. If we see something that we want to buy, and we don’t have enough money in our checking or savings account, we borrow to buy it, without hesitation. Credit cards and home equity loans can easily be tapped into and we spend ourselves into oblivion. Credit is easier now in the modern era, more than ever before, backed by humongous banks getting rich off of us. This is insanity. If we don’t watch out for these traps, we’ll fall back into debt or never dig our way out.
1: Negative Spending
Have you created a budget and do you stick to it? If not, you may be spending more money than you make. People who’ve created a budget have a good idea of their monthly income and expenses and can accurately diagnose their financial condition. Other signs of negative spending include the inability to pay off credit cards each month, and spending money on fun things before for necessities.
2: No Rainy Day Fund
Do you have little or no money in savings accounts, retirement plans, and investment portfolios? When something breaks, or difficult circumstances such as unexpected medical expenses or a job loss happen,s you must draw down what little savings you have and go deeper into debt. Emergencies will happen to everyone, so it’s be wise to prepare.
3: No Hate for Debt
Do you have so much debt that you are having difficulty meeting your expenses each month? Are you ‘borrowing from Peter to pay Paul’? You may have re-financed your home or consolidated debt to get cash to pay for other debts (maybe more than once). Re-financing or consolidation can be a very good tool to help you, but the ultimate goal must be to reduce debt. No one ever borrowed their way out of financial difficulty. Yet famous celebrities pitch credit cards to us all day long in the media, with super slick ads making debt look good. However, we should be re-programing our minds into thinking debt is repulsive, only to be used in rarest of incidents after talking to several advisers.
4: No Plan
Do you have a written financial plan, to help you prepare for unexpected things and future goals? A comprehensive financial plan covers all the important areas, so you will be sure to not miss something really important. eFinPLAN makes it low-cost and easy to do, and you are only one click away from getting started here.
5: Optical Rectitus
The condition in which your optical (eye) nerve gets crossed with your rectal (anal) nerve and you see the world through a cruddy disposition. You can choose to be negative or positive. Whichever one you choose will set the course for your life. You can either make the best of what you have, or be a victim of circumstances and spend your life blaming others for your situation. Having a positive attitude creates the state of mind for success and overall health.
6: Inability to Say No
The inability to say no to ourselves is one the biggest financial traps we have. Modern society is addicted to quick response food, internet and Cell phones. We see it, we want it, then we pull the trigger. We have credit so we buy it, most of us don’t know what it’s like to save for something for years in advance. There is peace in patience, good things in the waiting, like appreciation for what you have. Its called living in the joy of ‘the now,’ instead of in want of something in the future, which creates anxiety. Practicing waiting and saving, will set us up to reach thousands of dollars in benefits in the future.
7: You and Your Spouse Don’t See Eye-to-Eye on Money
In most marriages there are nerds that love to manage money coupled a spouse that is free-spirited and impulsive. There are savers and spenders. Marriage finances requires effort by both parties. Financial coaching may be in order in extreme situations. Creating and sticking to a budget that both parties agree to is essential, so that the saver nerd isn’t too controlling and the spender isn’t too out of control. Also, remember that a lot of marriages break up over fighting about financial matters. The small amount of time planning and working through financial responsibilities is well worth marital harmony.
8: Improperly Use Financial Advisers and Aren’t Engaged
Most people either have no advisers in their corner helping them through the maze of personal finances, or they trust them blindly. There is danger in not relying on advisers at all, since experts in various fields of insurance, investments, planning, taxes and legal documents can be very helpful. Good professionals can be worth their weight in gold, and its good to have them in your corner. However, it’s very important to work on increasing your own knowledge about these things, so that you can discuss your situation with them at a higher level. Those that have been taken to the financial cleaners by Ponzi schemes, or bad investment advisers have a common trait of too much trust. People that do some of their own investments and financial planning, and learn financial concepts engage professionals at higher levels, and spot frauds easier because they know what to look out for.
9: Living Large
Do you spend money on homes, cars, vacations, or hobbies at or a level above your income bracket versus a notch or two below? Bigger homes, and cars, more sophisticated appliances or whatever you buy, will cost more to purchase, fuel, maintain and insure. The nicer vacation spot will cost you more for your lodging, meals, and for everything else while you are there. Have you ever allowed warm fuzzy feelings to dictate the purchase of a pet without properly budgeting all of the expenses it would entail? We once bought a hamster for our children for .99 cents. Unfortunately the cage cost $80 and the food and supplies cost another $20. Without properly planning in advance (without our children present) we ended up with a $100 hamster (that bites – literally and figuratively). Don’t buy anything if you can’t afford all of the expenses that will come with it.
For some, the desire to pay bills, budget, and plan finances falls somewhere below getting a root canal without anesthesia. Sometimes procrastination or a desire to avoid difficult topics (like thinking about your death for life insurance or creating a will) can keep you from achieving your dreams.
The number one cause of people falling for bad investment schemes or ‘business’ opportunities is greed, next to lack of knowledge. People get excited about profit potential and all the things their riches will buy them. Often greed blinds us, and we believe the person pitching us an investment that is too good to be true. Remember, if the purported risk is low, but rate of return is higher than most other things, then it’s probably a falsehood. Also, beware of multi-level marketing programs that sell common products like health aids that are much more expensive than from other good suppliers, and sold only through memberships and distributorship pyramids. Most of the time, the products are very expensive because the profits are high for the various levels of management, and not because the quality is as good as it’s reported to be. This may offend some people, but I’ve been pitched dozens of these programs over the years, most fade away, and only a few people profit in the long run. There are some good products and programs I am sure, but not many.
12: Lack of Generosity
Do you give some of your money and time away, or do you spend it all on yourself or those in your small circle? You will find liberation if you think of others and your community. Giving money away can be the best “investment” in how you feel about yourself and the world around you. Generosity frees people from the isle of lack of self-denial.
Being successful with the money you have is not easy or quick and there are no short cuts. Your call to action is to follow the wisdom of these financial tips, take personal responsibility for your financial situation and obtain a financial plan If you work hard to achieve your goals and avoid these mistakes, you will be well on your way to funding your dreams and living with more joy.