What the heck happened to all my money?
If you’re having money issues, then you’ve probably asked yourself that question.
But as it turns out:
You’re not alone.
40% of Americans say they don’t even have enough money saved up to cover a $400 emergency.
So what does this mean for you?
It means the first step in breaking bad money habits is to find out what’s causing them.
Let’s jump in.
(This post may contain affiliate links. Check out our full disclosure policy here!)
1. You’re Fine With a Crappy Job
Crappy can mean a lot of things – like underpaid, overworked, or an unhealthy work environment.
But here’s the deal:
At some point, we’ve all worked a bad job. That’s fine.
But it’s not fine to stay stuck.
Even if you’re making great money at a job you hate – it will never feel like you’re paid enough, even if you are.
Plus, a bad work life can feel like it’s destroying every other area of your life.
So if you’re struggling with your career, I recommend reading this.
You don’t have to change everything. You just have to change the things that are holding you back.
2. Not Saving While You Spend
I like to keep things simple.
So instead of clipping coupons, I use a cash back program called Ebates.
Ebates is a fantastic way to save money on everything you buy.
Here’s how it works:
You sign up for an account and use the search bar to find the retailer you want to shop at.
For my visual readers, here’s how it looks:
As you make purchases, you’ll earn cash back.
I’ve been using Ebates since 2013, and I’ve saved over $1,000.
But fair warning;
It’s tempting to buy things you don’t need when you’re getting a bargain. But to get the biggest bang for your buck, I recommend sticking to things you’d normally buy anyway.
After all, part of resolving your money issues is being able to distinguish a need from a want.
It’s not a good deal if you don’t need it.
Note: The Ebates link above gives you a $10 welcome bonus for signing up and shopping.
3. You Miss The Sales
Did you know that sales cycles usually run every 6-8 weeks?
That means if there’s something you need, it won’t go on sale for another 6-8 weeks.
And if you’re only buying things as you need them (and not when they’re on sale) then you’re missing out on some amazing deals throughout the year.
Meat and produce are the two most expensive items in the grocery store. They also go bad the quickest.
So instead of buying them every week, I buy a few extra when they’re on sale. Then I use my FoodSaver to preserve them.
The FoodSaver vacuum seals your food for freshness so you don’t have to worry about it going bad before you can eat it.
So start keeping up with your staple items that go on sale.
4. Your Budget Percentages Are Out of Whack
First of all:
When I decided I needed to get my financial shit together, it was humbling to realize I was living a life I couldn’t afford.
You might be too.
But how do you know for sure?
For starters, you need to make a budget. You have to know exactly what’s coming in and going out each month.
And if you live on an irregular income like I do, then make a conservative estimate of what you bring in each month.
Better yet, look over your paystubs for the last year and budget using the lowest amount.
Now take a look at these recommended budgeting percentages:
Utilities: 5% – 10%
Food: 10 % – 15%
Transportation: 10% -15%
Health: 5% -10%
Insurance: 10% – 25%
Clothing/Personal: 10% – 15%
Saving: 10% – 15%
So if your house is costing you more than 35% of your take-home pay, then you’re living in more house than you can afford.
Until you reduce your overhead, you won’t have room left in your budget to save for other things.
And you’ll always have money issues.
So don’t let your budgeting percentages cripple your financial life.
Take a hard look at your spending and ask yourself:
If I could cut back in two or three areas, what would they be?
5. Your Money is Too Accessible
Let’s face it:
We’ve made it far too easy on ourselves to spend money.
By saving our credit card information online, we’ve opened the door to the world of impulse purchases.
And don’t even get me started on Amazon’s one-click feature.
So think about it:
If you clear out your credit card info, then you’ll have more time think about purchases before you buy.
You’ll have to decide if it’s worth it to dig through your wallet for whatever it is you’re trying to get.
And you know what that means:
You’ll be less likely to waste your hard earned dollars.
To take it one step more advanced, consider switching to a cash system.
Why? Because people who use cash save 12%-18% more money than people who use plastic.
It’s one of the greatest things you can do for your budget.
So if you’re new to the cash system, then I recommend starting with cash envelopes. They’re cheap and easy to use.
And after you become more comfortable, you can switch to something like the SavvyCents Wallet. It’s durable and makes managing money a breeze.
6. You Don’t Have an Emergency Fund
A couple of years ago, I had a $750 car expense pop up.
No problem, that’s what my emergency fund was for.
…except, I didn’t have one.
Learn from my mistake, and don’t let yourself get blinded by unexpected expenses.
You and I both know that life happens.
So let’s face it:
Instead of falling victim to unexpected expenses, you should do your best to prepare for them.
Most money issues can be prevented by building your safety net. So start with a goal to save $1,000 for your emergency fund.
Use tax refunds, bonus checks, raises, birthday money, work overtime, or sell stuff you don’t need.
Also, don’t forget about the months that have five weeks instead of four. If you stick to your budget, then you’ll have an extra month’s worth of money from those extra paychecks.
7. You Have a Hard Time Saying “No”
Accepting every invite you get will kill your budget.
Sometimes it’s better to make a small sacrifice by staying at home or having a no-spend weekend.
8. You Hang Out With the Wrong Crowd
Alright, hear me out:
It’s tough to win with money when you surround yourself with people who suck with money.
You know those people. I know those people. Everyone knows those people.
They’re the people who can only have fun by doing things that cost money.
The people who act first, and think later.
Here’s the deal:
Your social life can cost you a fortune.
And if you can’t just invite your friends over for dinner, then are you really even that close?
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Find people who are successful with money and do what they do.
9. Your Interest Rates Are Sucking You Dry
Now get this:
The average interest rate of a credit card is 16.46%
And if you only pay minimum payments on that card, it can take years and years for you to pay it off.
Talk about financial death by a thousand cuts.
SoFi can lower your interest rates through student loan refinancing or personal loans.
If you’ve never heard of refinancing or personal loans, here’s what it means:
They take your debt and combine it into a single loan with a lower interest rate.
This means you’re paying hundreds – possibly thousands of dollars – less in interest.
The best part?
You also lower your monthly payment. This can be a lifesaver when it comes to fixing your money issues.
So even though you can’t afford to pay off your debt right away, don’t let your interest rates suck you dry.
Note: The SoFi link above gives you a $100 welcome bonus.
10. Your Credit Cards Are Maxed Out
Along with paying too much in interest:
Living off your credit cards will ruin your financial life.
So what should you do?
Stop yourself from adding more debt. Step away from the credit cards.
Cut them up, reassess your spending and income, and develop a plan to kill your debt.
11. You Impulse Shop
We’ve all done it.
We’re shopping and we see something and think, “Oh, maybe I could use that”
And, next thing you know:
That’s one more expense added to your total.
Know what you’re buying before you go. Have a list and stick to it.
If you see something you like, then you should ask yourself:
Do I really need this?
Do I feel like cleaning/maintaining it?
Will I actually use it?
This is where your budget comes in to protect you.
You can still buy things you like, but make sure that you’ve budgeted the right amount of “fun money” for things like this.
12. You Make Low-Value Purchases
If you’re not keeping up with your money, then you make this mistake more than you realize.
A low-value purchase is something that doesn’t make your life any better.
Here’s the deal:
Every dollar you spend is a trade-off.
You’re giving up the ability to save more money, invest in retirement, or save up for a vacation.
So get smart about the things you enjoy. Make coffee at home or pack your lunch.
Starbucks, fast food, impulse purchases…little by little these things add up to big money issues.
13. You Take Too Many Vacations
Traveling is amazing.
But when you’re broke, you can’t afford to waste money on things that can wait.
If you don’t have a budget, emergency fund, or debt payoff plan, then you don’t need to travel.
Tough love here.
14. You’re Keeping up With The Joneses
The Joneses are broke too.
Here’s the thing:
Beware of lifestyle inflation.
Lifestyle inflation is when your income goes up, your expenses rise to match it.
You get a raise at work, so you upgrade your car.
You get your tax refund, so you immediately buy the newest iphone.
It’s a nightmare for your budget.
And I’m here to tell you:
The biggest thing stopping you from becoming wealthy is living like you’re wealthy when you’re not.
I’ve been there. But it’s never too late to change it.
15. You Don’t Have Any Financial Goals
Saving money for the sake of saving doesn’t usually work for most of us.
You have to have a strong why.
You need to give your money a purpose or else you’ll end up spending it.
Once you get specific about what goals you want to make happen, then saving money becomes something you can actually work towards.
16. You Don’t Track Your Progress
Because if you don’t have goals in the first place, how are you going to know if you’re staying on track?
Once you figure out exactly where you want to be in 6 months, a year, or longer… you’ll know if you’re doing what it takes to get there.
Goals, goals, goals.
If you’re a fan of the 12 week year, then you know that it’s possible to get more done in 12 weeks than most people do in a year.
Here’s the thing:
It’s not enough to set goals at the beginning of the New Year.
You’re better off dividing your year into 12 weeks and seting goals within that time frame.
Then break your goals into manageable pieces with deadlines to keep you accountable.
It just works.
17. You’re In Denial
Denial is where many people live. And it’s one of the root causes of their money issues.
Don’t be like those people.
I get it. It’s hard to take a serious look at your financial situation.
Sometimes it feels easier to avoid it than to face it.
Except, it isn’t.
Here’s the bottom line:
You can’t fix a problem that you don’t acknowledge.
So to quit digging yourself into a deeper and deeper hole, you have to put the shovel down.
You have to become sick and tired of being sick and tired. Now is the time to get your finances under control.
Are you ready?
I hope you enjoyed this list of financial problems examples. Let me know in the comments:
Which ones can you relate to?
Thanks for reading.