How can you do smart things with your money? Everybody wants to have a solid financial plan, but over 40% of Americans don’t have one. And if you don’t have a plan to cover the basics, how will you ever be able to afford the frills?
They say “the Candy Man can” and the Candy Man (the original, of course!) can sure bring back memories, especially this week. First of all, candy. It’s Halloween time and so you just can’t get away from it because it’s being promoted everywhere. Save money and buy, buy, buy in anticipation of all the costumed kids knocking at your front door this week. Yes, if you’re like most of us, you’ll be shopping and stocking up on candy and probably munching and stealing a few or more than a few for yourself, too. Guilty as charged here. I think it’s fortunate that this thing happens only once a year or I’d be perfectly costumed as one of those “walking dead” thingies myself. Candy may be nicer than a “rainbow” or sweeter than “sunshine” but for me, a diabetic, it’s not so much!
Spending a few dollars on some candy isn’t going to ruin your finances (even if it can ruin your health). But then again:
Do you ever do smart things with your money? Or just buy “candy”?
“I Want Candy” and yes, we all love candy! I don’t care who you are, from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high, if it’s delicious and sugary sweet, you’d almost do anything to get it, right? It doesn’t have to be jelly beans or a chocolate bar to get that kind of response either. It often isn’t, but rather some kind of “secret” deal or thing that you simply want, must have, and will do some pretty stupid things to get your hands on. Think about the people you have heard about or might even know? Then, sadly walk over to a mirror and take a really good look. Yes, you are one of them, too, aren’t you?
When Did It All Begin? Will It Ever End?
When you are a kid, you have no real money responsibilities. You are constantly in a “want mode”, always looking around and seeing things you want and thinking in almost every case someone like mom or dad will get it for you. There’s a sense of entitlement for sure and it can even be fostered by others, not just the mom and dad scenario. But what happens when you finally grow up? Assuming you actually do.
When you do, you should begin on a real path of financial responsibility. You do act in ways that still gets you things you want, but this time you actually earn those things yourself. It’s called by many names, but it’s the act of being responsible and being smart with money!
Taking Your First Step Back From That Edge
Here’s some good news for you. Just because you haven’t shown good financial responsibility as of yet, it isn’t too late to start…now!
Being responsible with your money is being realistic. Without a real budget and a real spending plan that fits it, you may be doomed. That lack of understanding is the primary reason so many people struggle and fail with money. So let me say this again clearly:
Make a budget and spending plan before you face financial problems
Unless you develop a formal strategy—like a written financial plan—it can be tough to accomplish a financial goal of any type. But the goals are not the actual main thing. It’s deciding how to work towards achieving the goals and stay within the plan that really counts.
Failure Comes From Ignoring Reality
I know people who just close their eyes to their money issues and have convinced themselves that no matter what happens, someone will bail them out. It started when they were young and the cycle never was broken. In many ways, the blame has to be spread around to family, friends, and even spouses who think they are helping when in fact they really aren’t. They are creating a time bomb for a financial disaster to explode!
Do you recognize these signs? You have been confused about your education and may have tried enrolling in college or some kind of specialty school and still haven’t achieved either a degree or job from any of it. The money spent on that, while not a complete waste, still wasn’t maximized and in fact was paid for by someone else. Some tried to help and found out that maybe you weren’t quite committed to it too late – STRIKE 1
Or, have you applied and been hired for numerous jobs in a few short years and in every case it just never worked out for you? It was either that you didn’t quite fit in (or didn’t want to) or maybe you just couldn’t take direction because they weren’t as sharp as you are or the other way around? Your résumé looks like a piece of Swiss cheese and now even with employment numbers at record levels, you just can’t find a job? What comes from that? You already know that answer, it’s more financial problems.
What If You Get Married? Then What Happens?
Love is truly blind, at least when it comes to money and finances. In so many cases, couples are just financially incompatible, even when they are very connected in every other way. That’s why they often wind up married to each other and ignoring the elephant in the room – the financial part of the relationship!
What often happens is that one partner is the breadwinner and understands the financial responsibilities of a marriage, children, and all that goes with it. The other just doesn’t, or even worse, wants to have their hard working spouse cover for them.
And here’s a shocker, in the 21st century it’s men just as often as women that are the irresponsible ones here. Job turnover, unhappiness at working for others, and no guilt about any of it after long periods of unemployment and not doing much more that, being a real big part of the financial problems at hand.
Sometimes “help” will come from friends and family and that just makes the hole bigger when it comes to facing up to the realities – STRIKE 2
What Happens When You Ignore Your Finances? Financial Cardiac Arrest
Under financial cardiac arrest, if and when they own a home there will one day be a possibility of foreclosure. If there are children involved, then they will suffer too. If there are health problems, you may not be able to even function or survive without an established financial plan and stability in place to cope with it.
That’s why things such as emergency funds, alternative income streams, understanding “wants” and “needs”, health insurance, retirement planning, and saving for your kids education are so very important.
Some day your family and friends will give up on you and your safety net will be gone forever. You will have burned your bridges in the process! – STRIKE 3
In some cases, what definitely is going to happen may take a few years. The house of cards you build with misuse of credit and irresponsible behaviors can sometimes appear to be holding up, but eventually it will collapse! You have to face the fact that that house won’t stand when the wind blows and it will one day! Don’t STRIKE OUT when it does.
Do you think that your current money situation can deal with problems down the road? Are you on a career path that is secure? Are you going to earn more and earn it in more ways in the future? Does your spouse or partner contribute to your household? Have you protected your children with your financial plan?