Finances can be a very personal topic. Our society teaches us that we need to be private when it comes to our money. However, with the rise of social media, we have inside scoop into how the wealthy (and un-wealthy) spend their dollars. This could make anyone feel a certain way about their financial situation. The thing is, very few of us were taught proper money management skills. So, if you see signs you need help managing money, embrace it.
Since financial literacy isn’t included in education curriculum, you can’t blame yourself for not being great with money. You likely learned a lot of your habits from your parents. That may not be a good thing. I’m walking you through 10 signs you need help managing money. If any of these signs apply to your situation, acknowledge them and take action. Ignoring the signs will only delay your progress.
10 Signs You Need Help Managing Your Money
You fear (or actually have) card declines
There’s nothing more embarrassing than having your card be declined out in public, because you really don’t have money to afford what you’re buying. Not only will switching payment methods not help, but you then have to walk away from what you needed. I think we’ve all been there at some point in time.
If you have experienced card declines because of lack of funds, or if you constantly fear a card decline because you don’t have enough money in your account, this may be a sign that you need help managing your money. If you don’t know what you have in your bank account at all times, that is a problem. If you are trying to spend money you don’t have, that is a problem.
Sometimes, card declines happen for other reasons (fraud, travel, etc.). If you get a card decline, be honest with yourself about why. When the decline has to do with a lack of sufficient funds to make the purchase, take that as a hint that things need to change in your situation.
You live paycheck to paycheck
I can’t even begin to describe all of the ways living paycheck to paycheck is a sign of poor money management. When you live paycheck to paycheck, it only takes one unexpected expense to throw everything off track. How stressful does that sound?!
Imagine living in that kind of fear. Fear knowing that you are one wrong move away from not being able to pay your bills. Don’t do that to yourself. Instead, recognize that you are in this cycle of living pay period to pay period, and start putting things in place to break the cycle.
One of the best things you can do is start saving, for that inevitable unexpected expense. You can also work to accumulate one month’s worth of bills ahead of time. In the video below, I break down how to plan and strategize to get one month of reserves saved in your account.
You have nothing in savings (or no savings account at all)
Let’s start with this. If you don’t have a savings account, this is one of the biggest signs you need help managing your money. You may think you have your “savings” lumped in with your checking account money, but that’s not true. A checking account is NOT a savings account.
Any funds in your checking account are likely to be spent, because that is exactly what that type of account is designed for. If you have money that needs to be saved, open a savings account. You can thank me later.
Now, let’s assume you do have a savings account. Your problem? There’s never any money in it for long. Regardless of how much money you make, you should be saving something. The “pay yourself first” principle can be learned from one of the best money management books of all time (in my opinion), The Richest Man in Babylon.
This book shares the importance of always saving a percentage of what you earn. When you look at savings in percentage form, you make it realistic for your situation. For example, instead of saying you need to save $250 every month, but you only take home $1000; saying you need to save 10% is much more realistic. That means $100 would need to be saved.
10% of your income saved is a fantastic starting point. If that seems too high for you, start smaller and work your way up. The point is to always save something. When saving money seems entirely impossible for your situation, it’s a sign you need to seek help with managing your budget and finances.
You save but take it right back
This sign is a continuation of the one above. Saving money is great, but saving too much money is dangerous. When you put too much money into your savings account, you end up taking it right back. This creates a bad, long-term habit. You are training yourself to always pull money from savings.
A savings account is not like a checking account. Your savings account should not be touched unless it is an emergency, or you reached whatever savings goal you had set out to reach. Constantly over-saving means you constantly don’t have enough to live on in your checking account. This is another huge sign that you need assistance with your budget and finances.
You have less than $100 in your bank account (all accounts combined)
Unless you are under the age of 18 and people supporting you (A.K.A your parents), there should be no reason why your combined bank account value is less than $100. Actually, there is a reason. The reason is poor money management.
I understand that certain circumstances and scenarios may lead to your accounts having such a low balance, but I’m not talking about those situations. Although, I will say, having an emergency fund could help significantly in those circumstances.
I’m talking about the scenario where you have a job, but you don’t have a budget and you overspend. Those situations can quickly end up with account balances totaling less than $100. As you get older, this becomes more and more unacceptable. Stop justifying why it’s happening. Stop blaming outside factors for your situation. It’s time to take responsibility and get help.
You have debt and keep using credit cards
In addition to the paycheck to paycheck cycle, the debt cycle can be just as cruel. The thing about debt is, it’s designed to keep you coming back for more. You use one debt, max that debt out, then move on to the next. Before you know it, your balances are past the point of your control.
Do you have debt but keep finding yourself using credit cards? This is a major sign that you need help managing your money. Once your debt gets out of your control, it can take years to overcome. Isn’t that funny? You can literally spend so much money in a short amount of time with your credit card, but spend years and years paying it back.
Please don’t do that to yourself. I did and I truly wish I hadn’t. Not only does debt keep you from building your wealth, it costs you so much money thanks to interest. I’ve been in deep credit card debt at two different times of my life. The first time, I was lucky enough to have it brought down to a reasonable level on my behalf. The second time, not so much.
I can tell you this: if you have someone help pay off your debt, you are more likely to get back into it. The reason is because you didn’t really feel the pain of slow payoff progress. I learned this the hard way. The pain of slow progress (especially after a period of quick progress) is brutal.
Do you want my tip on how to avoid it? Make sure you get to the root of what got you into debt, so you can never go back. That is the only way to ensure you don’t end up back in debt, especially if you had help getting rid of it. I hope you can learn from my lesson, especially if you’re lucky enough to have your debt, or a portion of it, covered.
You haven’t started saving for retirement
I started saving for retirement at age 21. I was fresh out of college with my first job. After a 90-day grace period, I was able to start contributing to my company’s 401k plan. The match was 5%, so I contributed 5%. Mind you, I was a Finance major in college. I knew the value of this. Unfortunately, most people don’t. Or, they think they can’t afford to save for retirement.
The reality is, you can’t afford NOT to save for retirement. The earlier you start saving, the less you will need to save regularly to ensure you have enough come retirement, and the more you will have come retirement. Compounding growth is a fascinating thing. I’ve shared this chart plenty of times before, but I need to bring the point home:
This chart shows the power of saving early. As you can see, the earlier a person starts saving a certain amount, the significantly more they will have come retirement time. The longer the person waits to start saving that certain amount, the less they will have. To make up for the lost growth, they will need to save a lot more each month. That gets harder and harder to do.
One of the most important money management moves you can do is start saving for retirement. If you don’t think your situation will allow it, I challenge you to think again. This is a sign you need help managing your money.
You don’t have a budget
I’ve shared plenty of articles, videos, and tips on the importance of having a budget. If you do not have a budget, you need help managing your money. Period. A budget is one of the most important personal finance tools a person can have. Without a budget, you have no idea what you can afford to spend, how far your income takes you, and if you can save regularly.
You may not have a budget because you don’t think it will help your situation. You must not understand how important one is then! When people tell me their struggles with money, I always ask if they have a budget. If the answer is no, then that’s usually the root cause of their struggles. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken, and without a budget, you don’t know what’s broken.
You don’t know where to start with a budget
Taking it a step further…if you don’t have a budget because you don’t know where to start, I say that’s a poor excuse. There are SO many resources online to help you create a budget. From YouTube tutorials, to apps, to worksheets, to people like me who create budget plans for people, there’s no excuse.
You can’t control your spending
What if you do have a budget? The issue is not you having a budget, but you sticking to your budget because you can’t control your spending. When a person can’t control their spending, it’s likely because they aren’t accountable to themselves or their goals. Their immediate want is worth more than their long-term need. That’s a fixable problem.
Working with a coach, having an accountability partner, or taking yourself out of situations that trigger you to overspend can do wonders. So, if you can’t control your spending, it’s definitely a sign you need help managing your money, but there is always hope!
What to Do If You Have the Signs
I’ve gone through some of the biggest signs you need help managing money, but what do you do if these signs have your name written all over them? It’s time to own it and take action!
Start consuming personal finance content
Take a look at the types of content you’ve been consuming and how it’s impacted your financial decisions? Are you and your friends always complaining that you all are broke? Do you follow flashy celebs on social media who encourage you to accumulate more material things?
Your surroundings play a huge role in how you think about money…and life! Start consuming personal finance content on a daily basis. Listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos (I have a YouTube channel), read finance books, study personal finance blogs. There are plenty of ways you can start consuming content that helps you improve your financial situation.
Consider working with a financial coach
If you need more personalized or one-on-one assistance, I strongly suggest you consider working with a finance coach. You probably already know this, but I am a finance coach! My Financial Focus Coaching Program consists of 12 weekly sessions with one-on-one clients. We go through all of their struggles with money, work to fix them, and put pieces in place to help them succeed.
A finance coach or a financial adviser can be very helpful if you don’t know where to start or how to turn things around. It can be an investment, but sometimes an investment is what brings you the greatest return.
Start learning how to stop spending
Think you want to give money management a go on your own? My biggest tip would be to learn how to control your spending. When you can say “no” to spending money on things you don’t need, you can put that money to better use.
See where you can stop spending…like now. Once you know where you can cut back, you can start planning to save more or pay off your debt. Controlling yourself when it comes to spending money can be a game changer!
If you have one or more of these signs, do yourself a favor and schedule a free consultation with me today!
Related: 7 Signs You Need a Finance Coach
It can be hard to take a look in the mirror and realize you need to change. If you have any of the signs above, I highly suggest you acknowledge your situation and start thinking about how you can turn things around for the better. Do you have any of the signs above? What have you done to help you manage your money better? Post a comment below to share!