Let me ask you a question… What’s the first thing you do if you have financial problems? Is it?..
A. Go out and buy a new outfit?
B. Go through your finances and see where you can cut back?
C. Open up another credit card because you need more cash flow?
D. Get hammered to drown your sorrows?
Go ahead, be honest. And I’ll be honest with you, just out of college I would have chosen options A and D. When I was married in my late 20s, early 30s I would have chosen option C (although I had a feeling it wasn’t right but I bowed to spousal pressure). And I have to admit, although A and C are still looking good, I’ve learned that option B is the best. (damn you, common sense!)
I learned out of neccessity and maturity, of course. I’ve had times in my life where new expenses come into play (braces, new roof) or you’re selling real estate and things are slow, your income goes down, and I had no choice but to cut back. And yes, I even had to cut back on nightlife, ugh. But it’s funny how people don’t want to drink alone, you still go out with your friends and you say, “No, I’m not drinking, trying to save money”, it almost becomes a personal mission then for them to get you drunk. Cheers! I digress…
However, there were times when my income was cut in half, for instance after my ex suddenly stopped paying child support. It then becomes a situation of, you have for example $2,000 in monthly expenses and your income is now $1,000… at that point dropping HBO and saving $20 a month isn’t gonna’ do squat. Although, it’s still a good idea to look at those things for the long run, the little things do add up, but at that point you need to make major changes like changing your living situation and getting gov’t aid. Yes, folks that’s a situation it’s designed for, not a way of life, but a safety net for when you need short term help. But this is all needs to be another blog. I’ll get to that next time.
My point is… when the going gets rough, tighten up, don’t go get your hair did and take a trip to Aruba. I know it may be a natural reaction (fight or flight, right?) to want to run away and indulge yourself and ignore it. (hey, haven’t I mentioned that self indulgent thing before? I see a pattern.) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been somewhere and someone is telling me all of their financial problems, like they are going to have to refinance their mortgage because they are two months behind, but in the same breath are telling me about their upcoming trip to Hilton Head. Uh, what’s wrong with this picture? They may think they deserve it because of all their troubles, but it’s just adding new ones… and it’s making them look like an idiot.
There, I said it! Yes, I said it, other people judge you. Gasp! Normally that wouldn’t really matter, but if, you having to stop and think “What Would Other People Think?”, will help you not do something stupid, like spending a fortune on something unneccessary, when you just blabbed about your financial troubles, then so be it. Stop spending money you don’t have! It’s really that simple. Keep a record of income and expenses, keep accurate track. Get rid of the credit cards, or keep them out of your wallet. Sorry, it might screw up the economy a little more but it will keep a roof over your head and save your sanity. You can do it!