Recently I was a part of a Twitter chat that discussed combating and overcoming shame about money and debt. Doing what I do for a living, I’m passionate about this topic and decided to write a blog post about it. I really hope that this post will help normalize that not having perfect finances is okay and that there are steps you can take to improve your financial situation.
Know Why You Have Shame
Is it because you were taught not to talk about money so you avoid dealing with finances altogether? Did you overspend and now you have credit card debt? Is it because you had a large medical bill you couldn’t afford? Or did you have your income reduced and supplemented your income with credit cards? These are just a few reasons and there are obviously MANY more. The point is sometimes things happen out of our control and sometimes we simply make mistakes. Either way – it’s okay. It’s what you do about it now that really counts.
Focus on the Present and Future
It’s time to stop worrying about what happened in the past. Owning it and facing up to it is the only way to take back control. Then determine what you need to do to be financially stable again.
Work on increasing income (if needed), reducing expenses, and paying down debt. And realize that sometimes it’s a combination of these actions that you need to take, depending on your situation. Also, you may need to make some sacrifices. Likely it took years to get into your current financial situation, so just know that there is not a quick fix.
What many people out there don’t realize is that they can get free help to improve their financial situation. If you’re not sure where to start, need a little motivation, or want a way to pay off debt faster, financial counseling can help. Click to GET STARTED ONLINE at your convenience or call LSS at 888.577.2227 for your free session. Your counselor will help you create a realistic budget and plan of action to conquer your debt and achieve financial goals.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Being physically healthy takes continuous effort; you can’t eat healthy and exercise for a month and then be done if you want to be healthy. The same goes for your finances. You need to make lifestyle changes if you want to be truly financially stable. That means creating and sticking to a budget, only spending what you have, and planning for emergencies.
Saving gets it’s own category because it’s the best way to be prepared for an unexpected expense. Having money in savings in case of emergency also helps you avoid having to charge and accrue debt. If you haven’t started saving, do it now. Make it simple by setting up an automatic deposit into a separate savings account. The key also is to not touch it unless it’s absolutely needed. It’s for an emergency not for a concert that you want to go to, for instance. Again, think lifestyle changes; try to avoid doing whatever it was that got you into debt in the first place.
Talk About It
You probably don’t realize it, but your friends and family are likely in need of improving their finances as well. Whether it’s paying off student loans or credit cards, saving for retirement or emergencies, etc., everyone can improve their financial situation. So work with someone and talk about your goals and why you’re trying to save money. Being able to say no to dining out or having less pressure to go out will help you spend less and having support will help you achieve your financial goals.
Financial problems come up and debt is normal; so it’s time to conquer that debt and save money for emergencies and your future.
Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.