Most people face a form of financial stress at some point in their life, but if you find yourself struggling to live from paycheck to paycheck, you’ll probably face emotional stress as well. If you are frustrated of constantly being broke, and struggling to pay your bills, here are five questions to ask yourself.
#1 DO I KNOW WHERE MY MONEY IS GOING?
The most important step in gaining control of your financial situation is to know where your money is going. Look back at the last 60 days of your bank statement, and add up how much is spent on things like eating out, bills, gas, shopping and entertainment. You may be surprised to find out that you spend $60 a month on coffee, or $50 a week on buying lunch at work. This step can be very enlightening, and can help you determine where you can cut back. Financial advisor, Dave Ramsey, always tells his clients to be sure to set a budget, so that you are telling your money where to go, rather than wondering where it went.
#2 AM I LIVING WITHIN MY MEANS?
If you find yourself constantly running out of money, you are most likely living outside of your financial capability. Perhaps your rent, house bills, or car payment is more than you can comfortably afford, or maybe you are buying things when you really can’t afford them. We all have an idea of what the perfect lifestyle is, but that lifestyle is something to be earned, not forced. In the words of Will Smith, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” Look into renting or buying a cheaper home, or a used vehicle. Material sacrifice brings financial freedom and peace of mind
#3 AM I GENERATING ENOUGH INCOME?
If you are already cutting corners everywhere that you possibly can, and the bills are still tight from month to month, ask yourself if you are generating enough income. You may not be able to control your hourly wage, but look into getting a second part time job, or finding a job with better pay. This may even mean getting further education or training to help secure a more stable financial future. Think of the future as well as the present. Decide if your current income can carry you through your life, or if you need to make some changes.
#4 AM I IN DEBT?
How many credit cards do you have, and how many of them carry a balance from month to month? If you are only able to pay the minimum balance on each credit card statement, you are essentially just paying interest!! Consider asking for some extra hours or finding a second job to help you pay off your debt. The hustle will be worth it when you are debt-free and have one less thing hanging over your head! Also, try to make a habit of purchasing things that you can pay for immediately, rather than charging it to your credit card with the intent of paying it off in the future. (This is part of living within your means!)
#5 AM I SAVING ENOUGH MONEY?
Lastly, ask yourself if you are saving enough, or saving at all. There is nothing worse than living from cheque to cheque and having an emergency, such as the car breaking down, or an unexpected medical bill! If you are payed bi-weekly, try to set aside a minimum of $50 from each paycheck, or $25 from each paycheck if you are paid weekly. This will add up to $100 a month, and $1200 each year! If you can set aside more than that, do so! It will be worth it when, not if, that emergency happens!
Finances can bring more stress than almost anything in life, but by taking control of your money, and making responsible decisions, you can find peace of mind and build great habits to carry with you into the future.