Most of us experience tight finances at least once in our lives. Whether it’s while we’re in college, trying to pay debts while working full-time, or it’s later in life when a spouse loses a job, you shouldn’t feel alone if money has you stressing.
Unfortunately, when money problems arise, the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t always easy to see. The hardworking college student may not have a job lined up after graduation, and your spouse may have applied to dozens of jobs nothing to show for it.
Seemingly never-ending financial problems can cause people to make some bad decisions. Here are a few you should avoid at all costs, no matter how dire your financial situation, and what to do instead.
No one blames a parent who steals food to feed their hungry family. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if others feel bad for you or not. Petty theft is against the law, no matter what your personal circumstances.
No matter how bad things seem, you should never steal to get what you need. You’ll only find yourself on the wrong side of the law, which will make your financial situation even worse.
Instead, look for other options. For example, local food banks will provide food for free, and some local agencies will donate other items to families in need, like clothing and personal hygiene products.
Rely on Credit Cards
Credit cards can definitely save your family if you’re in a tight spot, but that doesn’t mean they should be your solution to financial issues.
Credit cards can be dangerous because:
- They make it easy to overspend
- Interest can make it difficult to pay your balance
- It's extremely easy to rack up a lot of debt fast
- It can ruin your credit score
- Tracking spending can be nearly impossible across multiple cards
There’s nothing wrong with having one or two credit cards that you use wisely by paying off the balance at the end of each month, but never sign up for multiple cards and use them as a source of income to pay for things you can’t pay off quickly.
Ignore Your Budget
Creating a budget is extremely important. The trouble is, creating a budget isn’t very fun. It’s even less fun if creating one will uncover just how dire your financial situation really is. It’s much better to limp along without a clear view of your finances.
That just sets you up for failure. It makes you more likely to spend money when you shouldn’t, on things you shouldn’t.
A bleak financial situation is the best time to set a budget and do your best to stick to it. Know exactly how much you make and what bills need to be paid. Even if you discover you’re at a deficit, it’s better to know the severity of your situation than it is to dig a bigger hole not knowing the details.
Give up on Your Goals
We all have financial goals for our future. When you don’t have a lot of money, those goals become more and more short-term. It becomes more important to know how you’re going to pay for those back-to-school clothes than retirement.
Don’t lose sight of even the loftiest goals when you’re in an uncomfortable financial situation. Having long-term goals will encourage you to take the necessary steps to make them happen, even if they are just baby steps.
There’s a lot about life that can make you feel defeated. A poor finance is one of the most common reasons people get down on themselves.
It’s okay to feel scared or disappointed, but don’t let it rule your life. It is important to understand that your financial situation is temporary, and there’s plenty you can do to change it.
A positive mindset means you’ll be more likely to create a budget and set important financial goals, rather than wallow in fear and create more of the financial instability you’re currently experiencing.
With a good attitude, you’ll do a better job of finding ways to cut costs, you’ll have the energy to start applying for higher paying jobs, and you’ll be more likely to ask for help when you need it.
Just because there isn’t a lot of money to go around doesn’t mean you’re a failure who is doomed to make bad choices. Anyone can climb out of even the most dire financial situation. You just have to know what not to do, and what to do instead!