Not all of us can become millionaires or billionaires, but everyone is striving to earn an amount that allows them to live comfortably. You never want to be that person or that family who lives on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis but due to certain circumstances, that is exactly a situation that you might find yourself in.
There are also other instances when you feel as if you are earning enough, but your funds are not necessarily growing at a rate that’s fast enough to secure your future. This is what’s called being in a financial rut. You would get to this point at one time or another, there is no escaping it. Even the wisest money managers are bound to make mistakes with their finances but instead of allowing this to set you back, you should simply pick up the lessons from the experience and move on.
Why am I in a Financial Rut in the First Place?
Now, if you do find yourself in a financial rut, what could have brought you there in the first place? Here are some of the possible reasons:
Old systems may no longer be working for your current reality.
One of the most common reasons why people find themselves in a financial rut is that their existing income no longer suits their current lifestyle. Let’s say that you are an entry-level employee in a company and you have yet to be promoted. However, you find yourself having to raise a family because of an unexpected pregnancy. You will definitely find yourself in a financial rut in this case because the entry-level salary you’re earning would not be enough to support yourself, your partner and your future child. It could also be that you moved into a city where the living expenses are higher, yet your salary remains unchanged. No matter how hard you work, if your salary remains the same, you would be facing financial difficulties.
You don’t save money.
Another common cause of being in a financial rut is failing to save money. Sure, it might be a challenge to save up a few extra dollars if you can barely stretch your finances for a month before receiving your next paycheck. But if you don’t want to find yourself dealing with huge debt or not having anything extra to spend in the future, you need to start budgeting right now. If needed, make cuts on your current expenses so that you can make room in your funds for a savings account.
You don’t have a budget.
If you’re unable to save, it could be because you do not have a budget. Budgeting is the biggest favor that you can do for yourself, especially if you are not yet earning as much as you’d like. Make it a point to monitor the ins and outs of your expenses so that you can determine which areas you can cut back on. If you need to take on a second job to augment your income, do so –then still live within your budget. Knowing where every dollar and cent go will make you more responsible with your money.
You don’t plan for emergencies.
Your car might break down, you might lose your job, a family member might have an unexpected trip to the emergency room – it’s these emergencies that you need to have a plan for. If you don’t, you are not really doing your finances any favors. How will you get yourself to and from work if your car breaks down and you don’t have the money to have it fixed? If you don’t want to find yourself in a financial rut, make sure to prepare for such financial emergencies.
You are living way beyond your means.
There’s also the fact that a lot of people live way beyond their means. Having a credit card makes them think that they do have the cash to spend even if, in reality, they don’t. Even if there are perks to using your credit card, do not rely on them and use them mindlessly. Still, stick to a budget so that you can find the funds to spend on the things that really matter to you.
Getting Out: Who Do I Rely on When in a Financial Rut?
After determining the possible causes of your being in a financial rut, what’s the next thing to do? First, you have to realize that you are indeed experiencing financial difficulties. Being honest with yourself and realizing that you are stuck should push you into action. What changes do you need to make financially so that you can get out of the situation? Which mistakes should you never repeat so that you will not face the same problems in the future? And who can you rely on for support when in a financial rut? Take a look:
Rely on yourself.
Who else can you rely on but yourself to get out of the financial rut that you’re in? No matter how hopeless the situation might seem, it does not help to take on a negative viewpoint of your problem. Although it’s perfectly normal to feel that funk, you should quickly snap out of it and change your mindset for the better. Consider looking for solutions as a challenge, and you should be able to overcome it quickly.
Rely on your support system.
It would also help if you have a solid support system to back you up in these difficult times. If living a lifestyle that’s beyond what you can afford is what brought you into this situation in the first place, which of your friends can you rely on for support? If a group of friends always invites you to dine in expensive restaurants or hit the hottest clubs, be honest with them. Tell them that you are experiencing money problems right now. If they’re your real friends, they should be able to help you out, even with something as simple as being there for you. The support of family is also important when getting out of a financial slump.
Rely on financial experts.
If things have really turned for the worse, do not hesitate to rely on the help of financial experts. Let’s say that you accumulated a lot of credit card debts. What are your options? Could it be debt consolidation? Or do you simply need to iron out your finances to get things back on track? There are money advisers who can put your finances back in order.
For this, you might need to request a copy of your credit report and find out if there are any errors. A financial expert might also see debt consolidation as the solution to your problem, in which case he or she will talk to your creditors to make an arrangement that benefits both parties. Once your debts are consolidated, you would only need to pay one big debt instead of several small ones, making it easier for you to manage your funds on an overall basis. Once the arrangement is in place, make sure to stick to your budget so that you won’t find yourself dealing with the same problem all over again.
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How to Start Changing Your Finances Today
Lastly, what are the things that you can do to start changing your finances today? If your problem is as simple as not seeing any growth with your financial life, look for inspiration. Visit websites like Ted.com where financial experts relay stories about how they got into investing. Such stories will inspire you to start your own investments and make your money grow. Of course, this should only be done by those who already have their finances in order, and are simply looking for growth opportunities.
If the root cause of your problem is credit card debt, make a rule to not use your credit card in the meantime. While you are still paying off your debts, live within your budget and only use cash. Seek the advice of a financial planner on how you can start paying off your credit card debts so that you can slowly but surely get back on your feet financially.
You can also look for an accountability partner. Similar to sticking to an exercise routine which becomes easier when you have someone to work out with; managing your finances is easier when someone is there to remind you when you’re falling in too deep, while also knowing when to cheer you on. This accountability partner can be your spouse, your best friend, a friend from work, or a money coach.
Being in a financial rut happens to the best of us. No matter how good you are at managing your finances, there will come a point when you would feel like your earnings are insufficient, or that you have become really bad at managing your own money. When this happens, you need to rely on yourself, your support system, or the advice of an expert financial manager. In no time at all, you can work yourself out of the rut and start getting back on your feet again, financially.