Don’t let these feelings keep you from fixing your finances

Money

Written by:

 

What’s keeping you from fixing your finances? Despite strong economic metrics over the last decade, only 28% of Americans are considered financially healthy, 17% struggle in almost all financial aspects of their lives, and another 55% are struggling with some financial aspects of their lives. Furthermore, 25% of Americans have nothing saved for emergencies, and 21% don’t save any of their income for retirement. And those who do save usually aren’t saving enough.

 

Chances are, you’re one of the 72% of Americans struggling with money, either in making it, saving it or spending it (debt).

______________________

SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals get started now.

______________________

 

 

 

 

So what’s holding you back? Here are the most common things keeping you from fixing your finances and what you can do about it.

1. You Don’t Know You Have a Problem

The first thing that might be keeping you from fixing your finances is that you don’t know you have a problem.

If you don’t know you have a problem or don’t know what your problem is, it will be impossible to make any meaningful changes.

 

Or it could be that you’re unwilling to acknowledge that you have money problems.

 

Either way, acknowledging you have a problem and pinpointing exactly what that problem is will allow you to come up with a plan to work toward improvement.

What You Can Do About It

Acknowledge that there is a problem and figure out exactly what that problem is. For example, do you spend too much money? Are you not saving enough? Do you have a lot of debt?

 

Once you identify the problem, come up with a plan to work toward a better situation. You can reach out to family, friends or finance professionals for help. You can even find help for free. Personal finance blogs, nonprofits and even many banks and credit unions offer financial coaching and help at little or no cost to you.

2. You Don’t Know Where to Start

Another reason you may have neglected fixing your finances is that you simply don’t know where to start. This is a common issue that happens when an individual is so overwhelmed that they would rather ignore it than taking on the stress of working through the problem. Maybe you have multiple issues with your finances or maybe you don’t have enough financial education to make informed decisions.

What You Can Do About It

It’s OK if you don’t know where to start because there are plenty of options out there to help you. If you’re looking for financial education, we suggest reading up on these topics online or checking out some books on personal finance.

 

If you need more of a hands-on approach, we suggest consulting with a financial professional. There are plenty of coaches available that can help you get on the right track with no cost to you. One possible option is to call Catholic Charities, which offers financial coaching and financial assistance. You can find a local branch here.

3. You Think It’ll Work Itself Out

Another common reason people don’t fix their finances is they think it will work itself out. They think that as long as they’re bringing home a check and making their payments, any financial problems will eventually resolve themselves.

 

Unfortunately, that’s not likely to work in the long haul. Sure, making your necessary payments will help you stay afloat, but you’re really not working toward any improvement because you really don’t know where you stand or where you’re going.

What You Can Do About It

Even if you’re staying afloat financially, you’re likely not making any headway. The first thing you need to do is figure out where you stand by building a budget. Figure out how much money is coming in every month, how much is going out and what your debts are.

 

Next, decide what your financial goals are. Do you want to become debt-free, save up for a big purchase, save more for retirement (or start saving) or become financially independent? Whatever your goals, knowing your current situation will help you to make a plan for your money so you can start actually moving toward what you want.

4. You Feel Stuck

Maybe you know you have a problem with money, maybe you know exactly what that problem is, and you know what would solve it. Even so, what may be keeping you from fixing your finances is that you feel stuck.

What You Can Do About It

It’s tough when you know there’s a problem but you don’t see a way out. You may feel hopeless about your situation and like there’s no point in trying to make changes. No matter how deep the hole, there are always things you can do to try and make your situation better.

 

Consulting with a financial professional or seeking advice from family and friends can help you discover new and better options. If you’re working but still struggling to pay bills, perhaps it’s time to increase your knowledge and skills so you can make more money.

 

There are nonprofits that help people find resources such as jobs, affordable housing, educational opportunities and assistance, and more. Check your local library or social services organization to see what options are available where you live. Even though it may be a long road, you can always strive to make things better for yourself and your family.

5. You’re Banking on Money

While many may be hindered from fixing their finances because they feel stuck, others may feel free to let their finances run amuck because they’re banking on getting a chunk of money at some point. This scenario may be most common with those expecting an inheritance. They feel safe living beyond their means and accruing debt because they think they’ll be bailed out with a big chunk of money.

 

Another scenario is playing the lottery or gambling. Humans naturally tend to gravitate toward the easy route, or at least what is perceived as easy. Winning the lottery or a big jackpot is much easier than the hard work and discipline it takes to fix your finances. For others, winning the lottery or a jackpot may be the only way they could ever see themselves having access to money.

What You Can Do About It

Whether you’re banking on an inheritance or the lottery, if you don’t know how to manage your finances before you have money, chances are you won’t manage it effectively when you do have it. One study found that a third of those who inherit money blow it, and 44% of lottery winners go broke within five years. Plus, the probability of even winning the lottery is one in many millions, with gambling odds not much better.

 

The lesson? Don’t bank on winning money to solve your financial problems. And even if you can expect to inherit money, realize that the money behaviors you’re developing now will dictate how you handle that money. If you don’t want to lose it, start fixing your finances now.

6. You Have Regrets

On the other hand, maybe what’s keeping you from fixing your finances is that you’ve made mistakes with your money in the past and you have regrets. The thing is, we all have regrets. No one is perfect and looking back we all have things we wish we would have done differently.

 

Maybe you wish you didn’t have that huge payment every month and regret buying that new car, or maybe you wish you’d started saving sooner. Maybe you wish you’d taken a risk on a business idea. Another way regret could be holding you back is when you avoid making changes because doing so would mean admitting you’ve made mistakes and you want to avoid regret.

What You Can Do About It

Regret about decisions you wish you’d made (or didn’t make) can’t continue to dictate your money life. Realize that the past is over and the future hasn’t happened yet. You can’t change the past; all you can do is start today and begin doing the best you can.

 

The same thing applies if you’re avoiding making changes because you’ll then regret those choices … except, in this case, putting your head in the sand is likely making the problem worse instead of putting yourself on a path to do better. Again, the decision was already made, and you can’t change that. All you can do is begin making new decisions that will give you better results.

7. You’re Embarrassed

One major thing keeping many from fixing their finances is the fact that they’re embarrassed You’ve made money mistakes and probably don’t want anyone to know about them. You don’t want others to think you’re dumb or to laugh at you. You may think others are judging you.

 

These feelings of embarrassment and shame can be paralyzing and may lead you to do nothing or to avoid discussing your problems and seeking help.

What You Can Do About It

The first thing you need to understand if you have money problems is that you’re not alone. Chances are, even though you may not be able to tell from the outside looking in, most of those around you are struggling with money in some capacity as well.

 

You don’t have to let on to your family and friends that you’re struggling if you don’t feel comfortable, but you should seek out help. If you have someone you trust, confide in them and see if they can point you in the right direction. If not, seek out an organization or other entity that can help provide some guidance. You may have services you can access through your job, school or city. We’ve already mentioned nonprofits as a potential resource, as well as online resources such as blogs.

These services work with people struggling every day and are non-judgmental. Plus, no one you know needs to find out.

8. You’re Afraid

The last thing that may be keeping you from fixing your finances is that you’re afraid. Maybe you’re afraid to confront the situation. Maybe you’re afraid of how others will see you. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll make the wrong decision, so instead, you do nothing. Change is hard, and humans tend to want to stay with what is familiar to them even if they know it isn’t working.

What You Can Do About It

The greatest mitigator of fear is education and experience. Chances are that you’re afraid to make changes because you don’t feel confident in doing so. We’ve already mentioned a plethora of potential resources that will allow you to better understand finances and gain confidence in managing your money.

 

If you’re afraid to confront your financial situation, understand that you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge and that things will never change unless you initiate it. We live in an unprecedented time of readily available resources. You can learn almost anything through reading books, articles and watching videos online.

 

We also live in a time where social services are accessible to almost anyone who goes looking for them. Change is hard and finances are scary, but with time and effort, you can learn to manage your finances and begin working toward your money goals.

Moral of the Story

Three-quarters of Americans are struggling in some capacity with their money. Consumer debt is at an all-time high, and savings have been put on the backburner. With a lack of financial education and a consumer mentality, it’s easier than ever to throw your financial well-being to the wind.

 

The problem with this mindset is that eventually, a vehicle that needs repairs will break down. Your finances are that vehicle and too many of you are ignoring the repairs needed to keep it driving throughout your life.

 

Do you know you have a problem or where to start? Do you think it will work itself out eventually? Are you feeling stuck or banking on a lump sum? Do you have regrets, embarrassment or fears?

 

Chances are one or more of these factors was keeping you from fixing your finances before today. You can’t change what has already happened, but you can begin making the necessary repairs that will ensure your financial vehicle will continue to serve you throughout your life.

 

Start wherever you are, today.

 

Related:

This article originally appeared on MoneySavedMoneyEarned.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

More from MediaFeed:

Why having emergency savings should be a financial priority

 

Life can be unpredictable, and financial setbacks can crop up at any time–whether that’s a job loss, medical or dental bills, a fender bender or a major appliance that suddenly stops working.

 

An emergency savings fund is a lump sum of cash set aside to cover any unanticipated expenses or financial emergencies that may come your way.

 

Besides offering peace of mind, an emergency fund can help save you from having to rely on high interest debt options, such as credit cards or unsecured loans, or needing to undermine your future security by tapping into retirement funds.

 

If you don’t yet have any emergency savings set aside, however, there’s no need to stress. Below, we break down why an emergency fund can be a key part of financial planning, how large it should be and how to start building it up.

 

Related: Should I have an emergency fund?

 

 

designer491 / istockphoto

 

An emergency fund can be thought of as a kind of self-funded insurance policy. Instead of paying an insurance company to back you up in case something goes wrong, you’re paying yourself by setting aside these funds for the future.

 

Having a financial back-up comes with a range of benefits. Below are some of the key perks of having an ample emergency fund.

 

designer491 / istockphoto

 

Yes, there may be other ways to quickly access cash to cover the cost of an emergency, such as credit cards, unsecured loans, home equity lines of credit or pulling from other sayings, like retirement funds.

 

But these options typically come at high cost in the form of high interest fees or penalties. Though there are many reasons for having an emergency fund, preventing debt is among the most important.

 

Ivan-balvan / istockphoto

 

Living without a safety net and simply hoping to get by without running into a crisis can cause you to worry about what would happen if you got hit with a large, unanticipated expense.

 

Being prepared with an emergency fund, on the other hand, can give you a sense of confidence that you can tackle any of life’s unexpected events without experiencing financial hardship.

 

Ridofranz / Getty Images

 

Unemployment benefits, if you are entitled to them, can help you afford some of your daily expenses, but generally it’s not enough to cover your entire cost of living.

 

If you have an emergency fund, you can tap into it to cover the cost of everyday expenses, like utility bills, groceries, and insurance payments, while you’re unemployed.

 

Starting an emergency fund also gives you the freedom to leave a job you dislike by choice, without having to secure a new job first.

 

fizkes/ istockphoto

 

Having extra cash set aside in an emergency fund helps keep that money out of sight, and also out of mind.

 

Keeping the money out of your immediate reach can make you less likely to spend it on a whim, no matter how much you’d like to.

 

Also by having a separate emergency account, you’ll know exactly how much you have—and how much you may still need to save.

 

nortonrsx // istockphoto

 

The size of your emergency fund will depend on your income and expenses, but a common rule of thumb is to have enough money to cover three to six months of living expenses.

 

If you are part of a two-income household, three months of expenses may be sufficient. If you live alone, or you are the only earner in the household, on the other hand, you may want to shoot for closer to six months.

 

To calculate what that amounts to, you may want to look through bank and credit card statements for the past few months and list all of your essential monthly expenses, such as housing, food, insurance, utilities, transportation, and debt.

 

You would not need to include expenses for anything you’d cut from your monthly budget in the event of a job loss or other financial emergency, such as dining out, entertainment, vacations, nonessential shopping or saving for college.

 

Once you’ve assessed the minimum it costs for you to live for a month, you can multiply that number by however many months you feel would give you a comfortable financial cushion.

 

If the number you come up with seems intimidating, it can help to keep in mind that you don’t have to create your emergency fund overnight.

 

You can build it slowly by stashing away small amounts on a regular basis, like every paycheck or every month. If you keep it up, over time you’ll eventually meet your goal.

 

depositphotos.com

 

It can be a good idea to keep your emergency fund in a separate, safe, and liquid account, rather than mixed in with your spending money or other savings. This way you know it’s earmarked for a specific purpose.

 

Good places to build your emergency fund include: a high-yield savings account, online savings account, money market account, or a cash management account.

 

These accounts can help your savings grow (since interest tends to be higher than with a traditional savings account), but also keep your money liquid–meaning you can access the money when you need it.

 

artisteer/istockphoto

 

A good first step to starting, and building, your emergency fund is to create a simple budget. This entails looking at what is currently coming in (i.e., your take-home income) and currently going out (all of your essential and nonessential spending).

 

If there isn’t much leftover after subtracting spending from income to siphon into savings, you may want to rejigger your spending.

 

You can do this by honing in on nonessential expenses and seeing where you may be able to cut back, such as eating out less often, ditching a pricy cable package, or getting rid of subscriptions and services you no longer value.

 

Using your budget, you can then come up with a set amount of money (and it’s fine to start small) that you can put into your emergency fund each month.

 

It can be a good idea to automate your savings process by setting up a recurring deposit from your checking into your emergency fund savings account on the same day each month, perhaps after your paycheck gets deposited.

 

If you receive an unexpected lump sum of cash, such as a tax refund, bonus, inheritance, or cash gift, you might consider putting at least a part of it into your emergency fund to help you reach your goal faster.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Without savings, a financial shock—even minor—could set you back, and if it turns into debt, it can potentially have a lasting impact.

 

That’s why it can be wise to make building an emergency fund one of your highest savings priorities.

 

Even if you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck, you may be able to slowly start building a buffer against emergency expenses.

 

Learn more:

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org

 

SoFi Money
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA /SIPC. Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.

 

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Featured Image Credit: SIphotography / istockphoto.

AlertMe