Is it normal to read personal finance blogs and see a perfectly-painted picture of people who seem to have all their finances together?
When you read headlines like:
87 Super Easy Ways to Save Money
How to save $1000 while you’re living paycheck to paycheck
How this couple paid off $100,000 in debt on a $20,000 salary
...it sure can feel like the writer of the article and everybody else in the world in fact has their financial life together.
The reality however is that there are people just like you right now who are going through the exact financial difficulties you might be facing. And even those people who paid off $100K in debt on a $20K salary ? Yes, even they are not perfect.
Perhaps a divorce has tanked your credit.
Or you lost your job and could not keep up with student loan payments.
Or unforeseen circumstances mean you can no longer hold a regular job.
Or perhaps you have simply not made the best decisions with money and now you find yourself in a financial ditch.
Life is real and when real stuff happens sometimes there is no stopping it.
Whatever your particular circumstance is however, you do not need to be embarrassed by your finances.
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What To Do Instead
So if feeling embarrassed is not an option, what should you do?
Well, it is very possible that if you are reading this post you have already taken the first step in the process.
The first step to treating any problem is to recognize that there is in fact a problem.
If your spending is out of control and you don’t want to admit to yourself that your spending is out of control, no amount of financial education will help you dig out of your financial ditch.
On the other hand, if you are able to honestly look at your situation and admit that you have a problem over-spending then, you can move in the right direction.
Is It Time To Consider Some Money Habit Changes?
Now that we know the ailment, it is time to start with treatment.
It is at this step that you sit and take a good look at your finances and decide which habits you need to start developing.
Do you need to start living on a structured budget?
Do you need to start an emergency fund?
Do you need to start chipping away at the mountain of debt in whatever ways you can?
Do you need to start a side hustle so that money can fill in some financial holes?
Around here, we usually recommend that you start by paying down your debt.
A few ways to chip at your debt include:
Paying down your debt is always an excellent first step to take in getting your financial life back on track.
With your debt gone, less money will be going out to companies and you can use that money as building blocks for a great financial future.
Debt is gone, now what?
You can actually do this concurrently with paying down your debt as well.
Start an emergency savings account.
An emergency fund is not that hard to start.
You can start with a goal of saving as little as $1000.
Put away $100 each month in a high yield savings account and you will have that amount in less than a year.
And you can follow a similar principle for any amount you set.
Contributing To Your 401K Retirement Account And/Or IRA
Retirement always seems so far away but the truth is that time moves quickly and before you know it, you are ready to retire.
If you work a regular 9-5, have you checked the status of your 401K recently?
Have you looked at your options as far as an individual retirement account (IRA) goes?
Don’t be intimidated by these terms.
Take an honest look at where you can get start with either or both of these by speaking to a financial advisor at your bank or in your local community.
Consistency Will Get You There
While it would be nice to hit the lottery and win $500 million so we never have to work a day in our lives, the truth is that most people who have dug themselves out of financial difficulty and consequently gone on to build wealth have done so by pure grit and consistency over a long period of time.
Depending on your situation, it will take time and perhaps you will face obstacles on your way to getting out of that place.
The biggest thing is not to be deterred by those obstacles.
Keep chugging away till you see the light.
Don’t Be Embarrassed By Your Finances
In closing, I just want you to know that whatever financial pickle you find yourself in, there is someone going through the exact thing or worse.
Don’t throw in the towel.
Acknowledge that there is a problem.
Resolve to solve that problem.
And then follow practical steps to get you out of the problem.
Your thoughts and comments are welcome below.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.