3 Ways to Stop Being Your Own Financial Enemy

by Ashley Eneriz · 7 comments

During a recent family outing for dinner (thanks to a free birthday coupon), a man approached us asking us for change so he can get something to eat for the night.

I told him I didn’t have any change, but I would buy him a meal at Rubios, since that’s where we were going. Surprisingly, the man told me he would rather eat at Panda Express and went on his way.

How ironic for someone to be in need and hungry, yet be so picky. Even though I laughed at that situation, I can’t help but realize that many of us, especially myself, are in the same mindset when it comes to our finances.

I sometimes feel discouraged that there’s not more wiggle room in our budget. However, if I take a closer look at my budget, there are a lot of little extras I can cut out. If I really needed to, I could completely makeover my grocery budget to include simpler meals. I would have to admit that my love for Starbucks’ green teas (which can be made for pennies) is not helping my finances either.

I’m just like that man asking for money. I don’t want to give up my wants and comforts to get what I need. I don’t want to give up my Starbucks’ teas or variety in my grocery shopping to add a little extra to my savings account each month. How ridiculous does that sound?

I have a feeling this is a universal problem, too. I’ve had many people complain about their state of financial trouble, but upon closer examination, were really the source of their money problems.

One mom I know always laments on how she wishes she could stay home with her kids, but doesn’t want to give up her pricey smartphone or trendy wardrobe. I know another friend who has issues paying all the bills, but isn’t being proactive in selling the huge truck (and payment) that doesn’t fit his lifestyle. We all know people like this, and I am sure most of us fit into this category at some point or another.

Here are my three tips so we can stop being our own financial enemies.

  1. Get Real With Your Needs vs Wants: Strip down your budget to the bare needs. Only include things you need for survival not comfort. A few years back I wrote about saving money by getting rid of cable, and I had so many people comment saying how they needed cable for this X reason. Unless your cable is hooked up to your oxygen tank, you don’t need it. It’s sometimes necessary for us to get tough with ourselves to figure out what has to be cut for our budget to work.
  2. Know Your Survival Mode: Life happens. Whether it be unexpected expenses or an unexpected job loss, know our survival mode plan beforehand. It’s important to implement this plan in dire situations so you can still stand on your feet at the end of the day, month, or several months, depending on how long the dire financial situation is. I watched my in-laws have to short sale their home and go through bankruptcy, while still living and eating comfortably. They didn’t prioritize their lifestyle, and were unable to protect their most important investment — their home.
  3. Say No Now, So You Can Say Yes Later: I’m not suggesting you always deprive yourself. Instead, use more self-discipline for “comfort” purchases. Saying no to a few minor things now can lead to an opportunity to afford a big yes later down the road. You can be sure I’ll be saying no to my Starbucks green teas a whole lot more now so I can reaching other short-term saving goals.

At the end of the day, we both don’t want to be unwise like the man asking for money for food. I don’t want to refuse a free meal just because I “want” something different.

Don’t become your own worst financial enemy and force yourself into a mediocre money situation because you refuse to give up your wants and comforts.

What are guilty of holding onto, or indulging in, that might be sabotaging your budget?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Mattsfactor says:

    The best way I know how to deal with your finances is the appropriate management of them. Of course you can control your spending at every step but in my opinion it isn’t a good idea. A good option is to set some limits of spending money on different needs. In this way, having a predetermined amount of money on the cravings is a lot easier.

  • Jon Jenkins says:

    Very helpful and informative! The will to self-discipline those comfort wants, I like that.

  • Melody says:

    I love the second tip here. While I believe people are getting better about understanding the importance of an emergency fund I think we all too often forget that we need an emergency budget as well. I think it’s also important to have a “fire drill” of sorts by putting yourself on the spending diet or fast that would be required should you need to go into survival mode.

    • Lee says:

      Dave Ramsey teaches that one’s emergency fund is the cushion between u & financial disasters or setbacks. He recommends a min emergency fund of $1000 (if ur income is above 25,000?) & then recommends gradually building it up to at least 3 months of income (if I recall correctly).

      • Lee says:

        Forgot to mention: In the years since my wife & I set aside our emergency fund, it’s provided us w/ a lot of financial peace & helps prevents us from being like the “hungry” guy at the beginning of this column. (I don’t think he was hungry at all.) But the emergency fund has “saved” us from lots of anxiety & headaches.
        For Dave Ramsey, it’s the first step toward financial peace & getting ahead financially.

    • Bankonome says:

      I couldn’t agree more with this article. It is really important to look at what we want vs what we need. I find that when I do this, I find my self spending a lot less. Even just taking a moment to consider if you absolutely need this item right now, will help a lot. Just today I saw the Christmas decorations on sale for 75% off. I wanted to buy something, it was too good a deal to pass up, but after asking myself if I really needed any of the items on the shelf I decided i did not need them. I gave up something I wanted for something I wanted more and that is paying off my house and building a better savings.

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