I came across a definition of the difference between being poor and being broke whilst browsing yesterday; it struck a chord with me.
It was an excerpt from Rich Dad – Poor Dad and it was this:
The difference between poor and broke is that poor is a mindset whilst broke is a temporary condition..
My first thought was ‘thank goodness I didn’t call myself Poor-Single-Dad’. Not alone for the fact that P.S.D sounds more medical. More importantly, I have never felt poor, and that is important – it’s a mindset.
Separation brings significant issues, even if you are the one that decides to call it a day, as I was in this case. Issues both physical and emotional that you just have to work through; there is no short cut. Money is a major hurdle but it is not impassable.
One home will become two and domestic finances become a sole responsibility. This can be a greater challenge if you were unaccustomed to handling finances pre-break-up.
My issue was that over the years, I became complacent. I earned well but those earnings fell behind the cost of living. If you’re lucky enough to earn well but your increments do not keep pace with inflation, this is a bullet-time recipe for bad times; the way back isn’t easy.
Recognise the issue and even if it has crept up on you, it’s never too late to take control of your finances. Read up on monetary issues and controlling finances. I follow a lot of money minded individuals on twitter and online. Barnaby King; Debts to Riches; Tori Dunlap; Zero Day Finance; Debt Free Geek; Dirt Cheap Wealth to name but a few.
I follow these folk for two reasons:
- Hints, tips and ideas and
- Most of them have found themselves in fiscal hot-water historically and have dug themselves out.
Seeing that others have not only survived but actually thrived, from positions often worse than yours can serve as great inspiration and reassurance, that you can take control.
Keep an eye out for signs of stress…
Lets fix this
This is essential. If you weren’t doing it before, do it now. Account for absolutely everything you spend over a month or two. The outcome will surprise you. Scratchcards, Coffee, buying lunch every day will all add up.
Use an app if you have too. A quick search will give you lots of options. I use OnTrees; which is a Money Supermarket subsidiary. Other’s are available.
Once you entered the access details to all of your accounts and cards, they will track and even categorise your spending.
Cut back or earn more
Once you’ve plotted your spending, usually followed by stating ‘I spend how much on xyz??’ you need to make a decision. Are you going to cut back on certain areas or earn more money?
I’m not a great one for lavish spending. In fact i’m pretty frugal and I always have been. My issues are that I have too many liabilities and not enough assets. This is a classic way to ensure that there is a lot of month left at the end of your money. The liabilities that I have are ones that I’m keen to keep so therefore my option is to earn more.
I won’t go into money-making methods now but [hopefully] you’re reading one of mine.
If you don’t fancy pulling extra shift, pulling pints or whatever niche you find to monetise, then you’re going to have to rationalise your spending.
Ruthlessly got through everything. Credit cards, loans, utilities, insurance, assurance, the lot. Are you still on the best deal? Some companies have a funny habit of penalising loyalty so shop around, don’t just renew blindly. It’s not hard to do and there are a lot of comparison sites out there that are perfect to mull over whilst you’re having a coffee.
You may seem like you’re moving things around for the sake of pennies but mark my words these little changes will add up.
Budget and discipline
This can be the hardest element to control. By the middle of every month, I have laid out my income and outgoings for the next month. I look at the last two months and decide on how much ‘slush’ I have. This is set aside for non-essential elements.
Again, there are apps out there that will package this all up for you. I’ve tried a few but found them difficult to stick with. By the time I’d edited, tampered and corrected the entries I was better off creating something myself. Personally I use an excel spreadsheet which does the job just as well.
Once you have a budget, discipline yourself to stick to it. It might seem hard at first but the results are worth it.
I recently stumbled on the 50-20-30 rule whilst virtually thumbing Forbes.
- 50% of your income should go on living expenses and essentials;
- 20% should go on financial goals such as debt reduction or savings;
- 30% should go on flexible spending; things you don’t need.
It’s not easy. Once I’d put these percentages on my weekly spreadsheet I saw how out of kilter things were.
If you have debt such as credit cards, make sure you pay these off first. Snowball if you have to by paying off the most costly debt first.
Otherwise what’s the point?
An endless slog, or something that feels like it, is usually doomed to failure, unless you have steely focus and military like discipline.
Plan your treats. Whether its a take-away once a month or a foreign holiday once a year the further you can plan ahead and break costs down the better it will be. Obviously I’m talking about the holiday here rather than a takeaway – if you have to plan ahead for a takeaway you may be spending too much on it.
Planning ahead also gives you something to look forwards to, and occasional rewards should keep you on track.
Don’t despair. There are real problems lurking out there and trust me, money isn’t one of them. If you have your mental and physical health, you can achieve most things.
None of this post is sponsored. Links are to external sites. Twitter folk have no idea I’ve written about them (it’s all complimentary).