If it always seems like your money disappears as fast as you earn it, you’re not alone. All too many people live from paycheck to paycheck — even when their income is well above average.
Why is this condition so widespread? Well, the reasons are as varied as people’s spending habits, lifestyles, and financial obligations, but there is one factor that is often overlooked: self-defeating attitudes toward money. Here are a few examples you may be able to relate to:
- “I don’t have the time or patience to compare prices.” The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t really take that much time to do a few quick price comparisons when you’re in the supermarket, department store, or on the Web. During the course of a typical week, you probably make dozens of spending decisions, many of them almost unconsciously. By simply increasing your awareness of how much you’re spending and what the alternatives are (if any), you can often save hundreds of dollars a month.
- “People who use coupons are penny pinchers.” Although the term “penny pincher” is frequently used to describe someone who’s stingy or overly careful with their spending habits, some people consider it a badge of pride to be frugal and careful with their money. It’s all a matter of perspective. There are numerous blogs, small businesses, and newspapers that have no reluctance about including the words “penny pincher” in their name While few people want to be thought of as cheap or stingy, frugality has different connotations. It’s associated with being economical and thrifty.
- “I don’t want people to think I’m cheap.” This can be a tough self-defeating thought to overcome because it’s often so deep rooted. However, if you’re a compulsively high tipper or often feel obligated to pick up the check at restaurants (rather than splitting it with your fellow diners), this could be a contributing cause of your budgetary problems. Generosity is a wonderful thing, as long as it’s not based on a desire to be liked, accepted, or approved of by other people. As a side note, concerns about being perceived as “cheap” is one reason some people don’t take a closer look at their retail receipts, restaurant bills, and other invoices. Remember this: There’s nothing cheap about being unwilling to pay extra for cashier or restaurant staff mistakes — which are more common that you might think — and unauthorized or redundant fees on bills.
Another factor which contributes to tight household budgets is not having a budget at all. If you don’t take the time to identify your expenses and deduct them from your monthly income, then it’s next-to-impossible to gain control of your finances. While there’s no panacea for spending beyond your means — and some people clearly need professional advice and help in dealing with financial management and debt problems — sometimes a few simple attitude shifts can make the difference between scarcity and surplus in your life.