You have a job, perhaps even a good one, but you’re living paycheck to paycheck and you have nothing saved up. How did that happen?
ONE: You don’t set goals.
You won’t get anywhere unless you set goals. This goes for your career, your life and, for sure, your money.
Set a goal to have an ‘X’ amount saved up in 12 months, ‘Y’ amount saved up in 5 years, and ‘Z’ in 10 years. Sure, life throws a curveball at us from time to time, but you need to know what you should have saved up at each stage of your life, even if you must play catch-up from time to time.
If you’re 25, you should aim to be worth $1 million by 50 including your house. If you’re 40 and still have nothing, aim to start by saving $500 a month (increasing by $100 a month every year) to be worth $1 million by 65.
TWO: You don’t have a budget, or you have a budget but don’t stick to it
Budgets might sound boring but believe me, it’s much more boring not to have any money. Set a budget and stick to it. Your savings come first, then manage on the rest, whatever it takes.
THREE: You waste money
Any money you waste is gone forever. Cut out the cigarettes, the dinners out, the drinks at the bar, the brand names, etc. It’s much more important to be on track financially.
Ask friends over for dinner instead of going out to the latest over-priced restaurant. Open a cheap bottle of wine at home instead of drinking at wine bars. Learn to cook instead of ordering take-out, buy cheaper things, have a 6-month spending freeze. Re-negotiate your mortgage, talk to your bank to eliminate or reduce fees. Find free things to do on the weekends instead of spending hundreds of dollars.
FOUR: You don’t earn enough, or you don’t work hard enough
Even if you’ve cut your spending to the bare minimum, maybe you simply don’t earn enough. Double-down on your job and try to get a promotion or two. Look around for something that pays better instead.
Sometimes you have to move around to get ahead. Get that CV looking professional. Start a side gig to make some extra cash. If you’re just working the minimum at your day job and then partying from 5 pm, you’re never going to be financially secure.
FIVE: You’re in debt
If you’re in debt at the bank or just paying the minimum on your credit cards, you’re working for them, not yourself. In essence, it’s their paycheck and not yours. The only debt you should have is your mortgage. Make a plan to pay everything else off, starting with the most expensive debt in terms of the interest rate and set some target dates. Try adding all your short-term debt to your mortgage and vow to yourself it will never happen again.
SIX: You’re in the wrong group
Your friends spend money like there’s no tomorrow and you try to keep up, but your paycheck is not allowing. Maybe they’re making more than you are, or perhaps they also have debts that are dragging them down just like you.
Don’t be afraid to say no to the latest idea about how to waste money. Look for new friends by joining cheaper activities such as reading clubs, hiking groups, cooking classes, etc. You’ll soon get in with a better crowd.
SEVEN: You live with the wrong person
Your partner is a spender and you’re too afraid to put your foot down after so many years. But why let a spender take the money decisions? It makes no sense! Take control. Close the joint account and cancel those joint credit cards.
OK, you didn’t fall in love with someone because of their spending habits but come on! Are you going to work like a donkey for the rest of your life for nothing? Divorce is expensive, but many people say it saves them money in the long run so don’t be scared to take some responsible decisions and put down some red lines.