I’ve made quite a few mistakes in my life when it comes to money and how to control spending.
Here is a list of “faults” I’ll admit to from my “younger days”. These are 9 surefire ways to keep yourself in debt for as long as possible.
1. Listening to friends who are also in debt and aren’t doing anything about it. Debt should not be normal. Just because one of your friends tells you not to worry about your student loans, that shouldn’t be a reason not to try and get yourself out of debt.
2. Being jealous of people who have more material possessions than you. Stuff is stuff. It can clog up your house and your life, unless it has a real purpose hidden in there somewhere, why bother? Plus, you end up splurging and spending perfectly good loan money on keeping up with the Jones’. The Jones’ are likely in worse shape than you are, so save yourself now and forge your own path.
3. Having the “everyone is doing it” mentality. Similar to the last point, if you work towards having a nice car, and a big house, make sure those are things you actually want in life. Just because Susie down the street just bought a new car and she is two years younger than you, doesn’t mean she is “winning” in life. It just means that she wanted to spend thirty grand on something that other people will notice. Why not spend that 30 grand on your future and save it? I’d call that winning.
4. Jumping into decisions based on other people’s advice without doing your own thinking/research. Jimmy just invested his money in X and he’s smart, so I’m going to do the same. Probably not the smartest move.
According to the Urban Institute 35% of the adults in the US have unpaid debts. 35%! Look to your left and look to your right – someone in your row of 3 is in debt. How can you wholeheartedly trust the advice of other people when you have no idea what’s really going on in their financial world? Chances are, the person you choose to listen to probably doesn’t have the right idea. Find out for yourself.
5. Not standing up for yourself and giving in to everyone else’s ideas.
I was definitely one of these people. I was a “pleaser” not a “fighter” and it got me into a lot more debt than I would have been in otherwise. “Hey Chenell, wanna go out to the bar?” Sure! “Hey Chenell, do you want to go to a concert? The tickets cost $100.” Sure!
I just wanted to hang out with friends and have a good time, but I was spending money like I was rich. Look where it landed me. There are so many free options available to you if you want to hang out with friends. Have people over your house or hang out at the coffee shop. Even if you splurge and buy something, it’s likely to cost a lot less than a full blown dinner and drinks outing.
6. Loving things and not paying attention to your future.
Like I said earlier, stuff is stuff. Most of it is junk we are so excited to buy and then never ending up using more than one or two times. Why not save yourself the money and buy yourself some security, like an emergency fund or retirement savings. Sure it sounds boring now, but when you’re able to retire 10 years earlier than your friends, who is going to be the boring one then?
7. Having the “I deserve it” mentality.
I definitely suffered from this syndrome. At one point I worked two jobs and spent all of the money I made at the second job on going out with friends. I stressed myself out and worked 16 hour days on the weekends to end up blowing it all on one night out. Usually, I spent more than I made that night, meaning I was LOSING money in the long run. All I told myself was “I work so hard, I deserve it!”
Looking back, it wasn’t worth it at all and I could have been a lot further along on this journey out of debt. Live and learn I suppose.
8. Spending more money to have a brand name versus a non-brand name. I know a lot of people will disagree with me here but a purse is a purse. And a car is a car. They have uses, but don’t require spending an arm and a leg just to have the one with the label on it. Unless there is a lifetime guarantee on the brand name one, don’t even bother.
9. Continuing to do the same things over and over. You know that overused Einstein quote that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over expecting a different result? If you’ve been doing the same thing without gaining much ground, you have to realize something is wrong.
Do you expect a money fairy to come pay off all your debt? I know I did. Seriously, I thought one day the government was going to tell me I didn’t have to pay my debt back because they would see how ridiculous the whole student loan situation was. Don’t hold your breath, you’ll probably pay them back long before they figure out a way to do that.
I didn’t write this to make you feel bad about the things you’re doing, just to open your mind a little bit. I was doing every single one of these things at one point in my life. I used to tell everyone – I’ll just worry about it later! What a lazy bum I was.
If you’re doing some of these things and noticing the typical “one step forward, two steps back” movement, are you going to do anything to change it?
Enough about what not to do, here are the 5 most important things I did to get started.