15 Signs of Approaching Financial Troubles
And 5 Free Resources to Help Minimize the Pain
It seems to be human nature to believe we clearly see and understand other people’s problems, yet we often fail to recognize our own challenges. Finances are no exception.
Here is a list of situations and behaviors that, if you recognize them in your own life, call for your time and urgent attention. Some may be alarming, others worrisome, and still others simply concerning.
You DON’T SAVE any money, month after month.
You make ONLY MINIMUM payments on all of your loans, including mortgage, auto, and credit cards.
You have used a high-risk, high-fee and HIGH-INTEREST LENDER in the past 12 months, such as payday loans, car title loans, pawn loans, or tax refund anticipation loans.
You have purchased, or are considering purchasing, anything from a RENT-TO-OWN business.
You CAN’T even GUESS your current CREDIT CARD balance(s).
You DON’T KNOW what your credit card LIMIT is.
You BORROW FROM FAMILY OR FRIENDS to cover the costs of your basic expenses.
You receive ASSISTANCE from family or friends but pay for CABLE TV.
You work OVERTIME just to cover the costs of basic LIVING expenses.
You have used a credit card CASH ADVANCE in the past 12 months.
Twenty percent (20%) or more of your take home pay goes to MINIMUM PAYMENTS on debts (excluding your primary mortgage).
You DELAY HEALTHCARE visits, treatments and prescriptions because of your financial situation.
You have a CAR PAYMENT that equates to more than 10% of your monthly income.
You have asked your employer for a PAYCHECK ADVANCE in the past year.
You CAN’T SLEEP because you worry about your finances.
These are not the only signs of financial trouble. Every personal and household financial situation differs, so you are the one best prepared to identify possible trouble. These signs typically lead to problems such as accounts going to collections, additional financial stress and worry, missed payments with late fees, and high interest rates (meaning higher overall payments).
Each of the 15 signs above can fall into the following financial categories:
Misplaced Financial Priorities
Overspending and Living beyond Your Means
Inappropriate Usage of Credit
Poor Borrowing Decisions
The answer to these problems is not merely to earn or make more money. Additional income may or may not help. Human nature is such that the more money you make, the more you will spend. Unless you have made a commitment to improve your finances, created a plan to change, and then follow that plan, no amount of additional income will solve your troubles.
Consequently, if you recognize one or more of the above signs in your personal or household finances, stop worrying or stressing about it and choose one or more of the steps below to get started on your commitment and plan for improvement. Above all, understand that there is absolutely no reason for you to spend $50 or $100 or $200 to attend a personal finance event where some author or talk show radio host and his or her disciples try to upsell you to additional program and materials.
You are your first and most important resource. Spend time working on your finances. Millionaires spend an average of four hours every week working on their household budget, what to do with income, how to control their spending, and how to increase their investments. Most started such habits BEFORE they acquired their wealth, not after. They are financially successful BECAUSE they were already in the habit of regularly paying attention to their money. If you are not sure where to start, visit your local library and look for help using keywords and phrases such as budgeting, household finances, everyday money and credit building.
Do not be afraid to ask for help. You will find that those who are successful with their own finances are more often than not very willing to share some time with you. Don’t ask the neighbor with the brand new $100k car in their driveway. He or she likely lives paycheck-to-paycheck like nearly 8 out of 10 American workers, regardless of income. Instead, find a friend, neighbor or fellow parishioner who owns a successful small business, who lives in a nice but modest home, and ask him or her about financial habits, tools and behaviors that might help in your circumstances.
Find a local nonprofit credit counseling organization that provides free financial management classes. Start with members of FCAA (such as Money Fit by DRS) or NFCC. Such agencies may offer free regularly workshops in person or free webinars 24/7. If you are married, take the courses together to become financial teammates rather than adversaries.
Contact a member of your state’s Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy and ask about any classes or mentors that they may have available. Many banks and credit unions belong to this nonprofit coalition focusing on promoting healthy personal and household financial habits and behaviors. Some Coalitions work exclusively at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Others work with all adults.
Your local county extension office often has a personal finance specialist who may offer free counseling, free workshops and free tools and materials. County extension specialists have often earned a bachelor’s, master’s or even a doctorate degree and base their approaches and solutions on proven research.
With so many highly qualified, top quality and free resources to help you address, minimize and even avoid financial troubles, the only question left is when you will start. Identify your most concerning issue from the list of 15 above, then commit to contacting today one of the 5 free resources to start your path to greater financial stability and success.