Why You're Broke, and Why it's Not Your Fault
Maybe you aren't broke. Maybe you are very narrowly making your bills every month, or maybe you can pay your bills just fine, and have money to spare. So many of us, however, are caught in an anxiety-filled dance of being over-extended, worrying constantly about money, and vow to tackle the dirtiest word any of us can think of: budget.
Budget is NOT a dirty word. A budget lets us take a real, honest look at what we spend and if you commit to it, truly commit to it, it will give you more freedom than any credit card, home equity loan, or impulse purchase.
Do I count down the days to pay day because I don't have enough money to survive?
Do I charge things like groceries or gas because I don't have the cash to buy them?
Do I search for an online budget, set one up, then never look at it again?
Do I know the amounts and due dates of the bills I am responsible for?
Do I buy things to make myself feel better about other problems in my life or because I "deserve" a treat?
At the age of 20, I was $20,000 in debt, working full time and attending college. I would have anxiety attacks every time my phone rang, because I knew it was another debt collector that I couldn't pay. I left bills unopened for months, because I figured that out of sight, out of mind was my best bet. I was afraid that my car would be repossessed, and I would lie awake at night wondering how I would get out of this mess. I worried how I would have enough money to pay for food, and I toyed with filing for bankruptcy. I decided one day that there was nothing left to do but to face the facts and figure out a way to pay down my debt and find a way to survive. I negotiated with my debtors and put myself on a budget, and by the time I turned 22, my debt was paid.
I was never taught how to manage my finances. My parents never taught me or held me accountable for my money, and I was never taught in high school or college. I think that a lot of people find themselves in similar situations, which helped lead to the housing crash, the recession, and the thousands of people struggling to find a way to make ends meet.
It is our responsibility to be accountable for our finances. It is our responsibility to know what we can afford, and it's our responsibility to live within our means by either cutting back our spending or finding a way to make more money to accommodate our desires. It's as simple as that.
I feel so strongly about this that I created a consulting company that provides personal budgeting for couples, families, recent college grads, and single professionals. Our goal is to help you take control of your finances, and aide you in affording your lifestyle, while setting financial goals for the future. We focus on creating healthy spending habits, and living within your means.
We are running our first special, and I wanted to share it with BlogHer readers:
What are your biggest concerns when it comes to personal finance? Write your questions/concerns in the comments and I'd love to try to help!