Your Thirties Can Kill Your Finances

family in their 30s
When it comes to living dangerously with your finances, it seems as though your thirties are the most dangerous decade. Obviously you have to be mindful of your money habits throughout your life because it’s possible to screw up with you’re very young and very old, but special care should be given to the dangerous thirties. This is the decade that can doom your future goals or set you up for great success and even early retirement. Choose your actions carefully and you could enjoy a great life, or make mistakes from which you never recover. Why are the 30’s so dangerous? Here are some reasons:

Access to more credit

Okay, maybe you came out of college and went through your 20’s with some student loans and credit card debt that you wish you didn’t have. Chances are, though, that the damage wasn’t worse simply because you couldn’t get much credit. You didn’t make much money with your first crappy job so it was harder to get big loans and credit card lines. This changes in your thirties. Chances are that your salary has gone up and now you have lenders looking to give you access to more “easy money.” Big problems can come with that credit if you take too much and don’t use it wisely.

Keeping up with the Joneses

When you’re young, you (usually) can’t keep up because your finances won’t allow it. Even if you want to try, chances are you’re only trying to surpass the other recent college graduates on your block and the other poor schlubs hanging on to the bottom of the career ladder with you. But with the thirties comes the move to a better neighborhood, friends with high paying/high spending lifestyles, the desire to impress your bosses and coworkers with clothes, cars and meals out, other parents who watch (and judge) how much you’re spending on your kids, and all kinds of other pressures to “keep up.” When you get older you get wiser and stop caring about what other people think, but when you hit your thirties, that desire to keep up can be overwhelming and lead to poor financial decisions.

Kids

While there are many who have kids in their 20’s, more and more people are putting it off until their thirties. Kids are expensive. While you can mitigate the expense somewhat through frugal living, there is no denying they add to the financial outlay. And more kids = more money. Once you have kids, a whole other world of “keeping up” opens up to you. Suddenly you have to have to have a big SUV, the private school, and the kids have to have all the gadgets and the “right” clothes. And don’t forget college, if you plan to pay for any of it. You may not get back to your full savings potential until they leave home, which may mean you’re close to or over fifty and facing retirement very soon.

Houses

The thirties is the decade when a lot of people buy houses. While owning a house can be great, buying more than you can reasonably afford can doom you. So can constantly moving, upgrading, and remodeling. Chose your housing wisely and try to get it right the first time so that you don’t eat up all your equity every time you move. And don’t forget to take taxes, maintenance, and insurance into your total costs of ownership. The mortgage isn’t the only payment you’ll have to make.

Less flexibility

When you’re young, single, and unencumbered, you can move anywhere for a job, work all day and all night if you want to, live cheaply with roommates, and eat ramen noodles every night. The older you get the less flexible you become. If you get married, you can’t just up and move without taking another person’s opinion into account. Having kids removes even more flexibility because there are schools and activities to be sorted out. Having a family means that you probably aren’t willing to work three jobs anymore so your earning power may go down. And your grocery budget will go up because suddenly you have “health concerns” and a family that all require better nutrition. Ramen noodles don’t cut it anymore. If you lose a job or have some other financial problem, cutting back and making sacrifices isn’t as easy as it once was.

Spouses

Marriage is a wonderful thing, but it can bring complications. If you marry a spouse who brings a lot of debt to the marriage, or poor financial habits, it can doom you. The wedding itself can doom you if you go into significant debt for it. Then there’s the weapon of financial destruction known as divorce. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but if it’s going to happen it seems as though the chances go up in your late thirties after you’ve been together long enough to discover the wrong fit. A divorce can set you back financially for years, whether you’re the “wronged” spouse or not.

Bigger salaries

Hopefully by the time you hit your thirties you’ve settled into some stable work and you’re being rewarded for it with more money. More cash can equal more problems, though. While some more money is probably necessary to live, it’s also possible to blow a lot more of it on stupid stuff and then wonder in your forties and fifties where the hell the money went. Save those raises!

Putting retirement savings on hold

With all of the expenses mounting up, a lot of people stop or greatly reduce their retirement contributions in their thirties. This is a mistake. Unless you saved a boatload in your twenties that is still sitting there growing for you, you’re missing out on a prime time to increase your contributions (and even that boatload, if you had it, could use some help). If you assume that you’ll just put off saving until you’re in your forties or fifties, you’ll never be able to fully catch up. Money saved later in life just doesn’t have the same amount of time to grow as money saved earlier.

Loss of one income

When the kids start to come along, one parent will sometimes choose to stay home with them. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as you can afford it. It can become a problem, though, when there isn’t enough income to cover daily life and put some into savings for the future. Choosing to stay home is great, but you have to understand the impact it may have on your future plans and adjust accordingly. That may mean that the stay at home spouse needs to work part time, or go back to full time work sooner than would be ideal. Staying home when it puts the long term financial picture at risk is a move that can doom you.

Youthful stupidity

All of us do stupid things when we’re young. Sometimes it’s just because we don’t know any better, and sometimes it’s because we’re trying so hard to fit in. Either way, being stupid about money can wreck your financial future. Don’t wait until you’re in your forties or fifties to learn about money. Learn while you’re young. And get over the idea that you have to impress or fit in or that you can somehow spend your way to happiness and acceptance. A lot of us reach the realization that blowing money on unnecessary stuff is simply a waste, but we reach it too late. Wisdom isn’t only for the older among us and the sooner you wise up, the better off your financial picture will be.

Many people make a concerted effort to save more in their forties and beyond, but if you’ve caused massive damage in your thirties, you’ll be so far behind that you may never recover. If you have to waste a lot of years first cleaning up the mess before you can begin to really save, you could be in your sixties before you’re really able to save a lot of money. And then guess what? You’re close to retirement or you’re being pushed out of the workforce and it’s too late. The thirties can be a lot of fun, but be vigilant that they don’t ruin the rest of your financial life.

How to Create a Personal Money Challenge

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Personal money challenges are so trendy right now. This article will tell you how to create one you can enjoy. That means it’ll be one you can actually stick to!The first step is to look at all your spending habits. When looking over your receipts, is there anything you feel guilty about? If so, let’s squash it as part of your money challenge. If you would rather not worry so much about spending, you can create a personal money challenge aimed towards earning more money. This is what many call ‘side hustle’ money.

Side hustle money is money you create outside of your 9-5 full-time job. It’s money you pick up on nights or weekends or even over your lunch hour. Typical side hustles include being a virtual assistant, dog walking, repairing computers, or even just getting a part-time job you go to after work. A personal money challenge can be either about saving money or making money.A personal money challenge is very similar to a goal. The following is a goal creation template used by many companies in the Fortune 500. They are aptly named S.M.A.R.T. goals.

First, a goal should be specific. This means goals should be specifically written and easy to define. You want to know exactly what you are setting out to accomplish. This will help you know when you achieved your goal.

Second, a goal should be measurable. It’s important to measure or else you won’t know when you’ve improved! Instead of writing down, “I want to save more money this year.” write, “I will save $5,500 this year which I will place into my Roth IRA.”

‘A’ stands for achievable. Make sure the goal isn’t too outlandish. It’s good to shoot big, but not if there’s no chance of succeeding. Remember, when writing the goal, you must possess the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to achieve the goal. Your skills don’t have to be perfect, but you should feel a sense of confidence when writing down your money challenge.

‘R’ means results-focused. This means you’re doing something which is done to better yourself, not to just make noise. Why are you entering a personal money challenge? What do you hope to achieve? Are you looking to fund a trip to Mexico? Are you looking to pay for the first year of college debt free? Make sure there is a very clear reason why you are putting yourself through the challenge. This is helpful to remember when things get tough.

The final letter is ‘T’. ‘T’ stands for time-bound. This is immensely important. If your challenge is to make $10,000 in side income, you need to assign a date! Basically anyone can make $10,000 extra, given enough time. Put your goal on a calendar. Example, by September 30th, 2016, I will have saved $10,000 in extra income.

Extra ways to ensure success in your personal money challenge

After creating a money-oriented S.M.A.R.T. goal, you still should gather some reinforcements. By reinforcements, I mean lots of things. Tell your goal(s) to your friends so they can give support. Share on Facebook if you’d like. There is such a thing as positive peer pressure.

Furthermore, read blogs, books, and listen to podcasts about people who are currently rocking some awesome money challenges. These people will inspire you. Keep your brain in the right mindset. Our minds are a summation of what we’re exposed to. Make sure you’re being influenced by rockstar people, not sitcoms.

Your Personal Finance Constitution

personal finance constitution
Let it guide you to financial freedom…The U.S. Constitution is more than a founding document. It is the basis of all our decisions as a nation. This Constitution Day, we’d like to honor that great document with a suggested constitution for family finances… one designed to set you on the path to financial harmony.

We the People of this family, in Order to form a better Union with our finances, establish security, ensure future Tranquility, provide for future generations, promote our family’s Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Financial Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity, do establish this Constitution for Financial Freedom.

Article I – Decision Making

To serve as a Representative, a family member must represent the best interests of the others, making this a House of Representatives that honors the needs of the family above their own.

No family member shall serve as a Representative without attaining the age of at least 18, having graduated high school and contributing income to the best interests of all.

The House shall choose a Speaker who will have the power of making final decisions when the remainder cannot agree. After a debate of the issues, where the opinions of all Representatives are carefully weighed, this Speaker will decide the correct course of action, seeking understanding and support from other Representatives.

Each House Representative shall have one Vote on matters of personal finance.

No Preference shall be given to one Representative over another.

Representatives shall assemble to discuss matters important to the financial wellbeing of the House.

No Person shall be a Representative who does not contribute to House finances or who is not an inhabitant in the House affected by the financial decisions made.

The House shall assemble at least once in every Year to address financial goals.

The Speaker shall have a Vote in the financial decisions of the House and shall make final decisions should a vote be equally divided.

The family shall choose a Secondary Speaker to serve in the Absence of the Speaker, who shall exercise the powers of the Speaker when he or she cannot do so.

When Representatives gather to make financial decisions, they shall constitute a Quorum to attend to House financial matters. A smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, but shall remember the emotional ties that strengthen the House in doing so.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of the House on any question.

No Representative shall, without the Consent of the others, adjourn for more than three days.

Representatives shall receive Recognition for their Services, to be ascertained by the House. For any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place. House matters shall be discussed in the privacy of the home where each Representative may speak freely without condemnation.

All Ideas for improving House finances shall originate in the House of Representatives.

Every Idea agreed upon by the House Representatives, before taken to action, shall be presented to the Speaker for approval. The Speaker may return the idea to the House for discussion, noting objections. If after Reconsideration, the House decides to act on an Idea, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the secondary Speaker. If the Secondary Speaker agrees, the Idea shall be put into action.

If any Idea is not be returned by the Speaker within ten Days after it shall have been presented to him or her, the Same shall be put into action as if the Speaker had approved it.

Article II – Financial Contributions to the House

All financial Contributions shall be shared mutually among those who contribute to the household finances.
Contributions to living expenses shall be apportioned among the Representatives in this House.

The Speaker shall have Power To lay and collect Monies needed to pay the Debts and provide for the common Good and general Welfare of the House, but all Apportioned Expenses shall be uniform throughout the Representatives of the House according to each Representatives ability to contribute.

No Money shall be drawn from the House Treasury without a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all House Money.

Article III – Financial Harmony

Each Representative shall respect the wisdom, financial goals and opinions of the others.

When vacancies happen, due to no fault of a Representative, the House shall remain supportive and help the Representative return to fulfilling his or her role in contributing to House finances.

The House shall remember, especially during times of financial struggle, the emotional connections that bind them, acting with compassion, tolerance and financial responsibility for the welfare of the House as a whole.

Write your own family Financial Constitution to help you focus on a brighter financial future!

4 Money Saving Tips for Senior Citizens Day

4 Money Saving Tips for Senior Citizens Day

Senior Citizen’s Day is coming! It’s August 21st. The observance was established as a way of honoring the senior citizens of our communities. The day also brings awareness to social, health, and economic issues facing the elderly.

This post is geared towards what the younger generations can learn about our elders. Because… older people rock when it comes to saving! They’ve lived through some major economic hardships. They know how to make ends meet even on a depression-era budget. Here’s are some of tried and true secrets:

1. Reuse Everything, Waste Nothing

Reusing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to save money. Many of today’s senior citizens grew up understanding that every item has value. By looking for the value in items and considering how you can reuse everything, you drastically cut costs on goods. Here are some ideas for maximizing this old school money saving tip:

  • Save your leftovers – all of them. Have a plan for how you will use them in the next few days so they don’t go to waste. Even scraps are good to save for soups and stews. You can use teabags several times before throwing them out. Reuse containers for your leftovers and other storage needs. Rinse and reuse tin foil and plastic bags whenever possible. Most ‘throwaway’ items can be used many times before they become unusable.
  • Use every last bit. Don’t throw away condiments until you’ve used every ounce. Rubber spatulas are indispensable for this. Add a little water to detergent bottles to get the last few drops. You’ll save a lot of money over your lifetime by doing this.
  • Keep every scrap of fabric. Clothes that are too worn to donate make excellent rags. Bedding and other large fabric items can be re-purposed for curtains, craft projects, tarps and many other things. And storing scraps doesn’t take up much room either.

Suggested Reading:

10 Ways To Prevent and Reduce Food Waste
Frugal Tricks to Make Consumable Purchases Last Longer

2. Consume Less

When these folks were young, serving sizes were much smaller than they are today. For every food purchase they make today, they get more out of it than most people. Split a 12 ounce can of soda between two people and you have half the price. Adding breadcrumbs to hamburger stretches the meat. Running bread loaf ends through a food processor is a great source of free breadcrumbs too.

3. Learn Valuable Frugal Living Skills

There was a time when most women knew how to sew and men understood how to tackle every household repair. If you could sew, you’d be able to make $200 curtains with a $20 sheet set. If you understood household repairs, you could make your own furniture from wood scraps or repair your existing furniture if it were to break. Money spent on classes to learn these skills will pay off in savings.

4. Buy Once, Cry Once

Older people know how to make things last! Manufacturing standards today focus on saving at any cost. Quality only needs to be good enough to sell the product. But products used to have more longevity. They were designed to last a lifetime, not just a few years. Focus on acquiring well-made goods that won’t need replacement.

Your grandparents took ideas like these for granted. They grew up in a world where there was more time to spend on making the most of everything they had. Although you may not have the time they had, many of these ideas still work with today’s busy lifestyles.

Enjoy Senior Citizens Day. And respect your elders by not being so wasteful.

Ten Financial Choices You Will Regret in 10 Years

money regrets
A lot of people who worry about their financial decisions often frame that worry on how it will impact them in the present, and often forget that the decisions will likely have consequences in the future as well. While financial situations can always change, it can pay off handsomely if you think long-term rather than just short-term. Below you’ll find a number of common financial choices many end up regretting somewhere down the line:

 Not Saving for Retirement

Many people don’t even think twice about saving for retirement. Whether you believe retirement is too far in the future to worry about or that you don’t have enough money to sock away into a 401K or IRA, this is a mindset you need to change. You should always contribute to a retirement savings, even if it’s even a small amount. Retirement will come before you know it and you don’t want to be left scrambling for money to keep yourself afloat once you’re unable to work.

Not Having an Emergency Fund

You might be surprised by how many people don’t save money for unexpected emergencies. Many of us will experience some type of emergency in our lifetime, whether it’s losing a job, having a health issue, or having to quickly repair house or car damage. Having some money set aside for unexpected emergencies is something you definitely need to do, and you’ll be mad at yourself for not doing so when the time comes that you need it.

Not Paying Down Debt

Accumulating, but not paying down, debt is something that will haunt you well into the future. While many people believe it’s difficult to pay off debt, it’s something you need to steadily work toward. Avoiding paying off debt will only make more trouble down the line, and it’s something you should take care of as soon as possible.

Spending Frivolously

A lot of us are guilty of spending frivolously every so often, and while spending frivolously can be a nice treat on occasion, it’s not something that should be a habit. If you’re an impulsive shopper or have a habit of throwing away money, you need to learn to reign yourself in. There are better things you could be doing with your money and you don’t want ten years to pass and find yourself mourning all the money you wasted on items you don’t even remember.

Investing In Things You Don’t Understand

Some people feel pressured to invest in items because they have people telling them that their hard earned money is better off invested in the stock market or certain assets. While investments can be a great way to use your money, you should never invest in something you don’t completely understand. It’s not only a poor use of your money, but it’ll likely end up bringing you a major headache and regret.

Inability to Save Money

How often have you heard a friend say they’re just incapable of saving money? Or maybe you’re that person bemoaning your inability to save. Whatever the case may be, there is almost always a way to save money. Getting into the habit of saving a portion of your paycheck each month is easier than you may think. Never saving money or excusing away your lack of savings by bad habits will cause you a lot of grief ten years from now when you realize you have nothing put aside.

Not Thinking You Need to Save

A lot of people are also guilty of not believing they need to save money. Sometimes they believe they’re still young and healthy enough that medical bills or retirement isn’t an issue. Sometimes people believe they don’t need to save because there’s nothing they need to buy. This is a dangerous mindset because it’ll only end up leaving you without any savings or emergency fund in the future. You should always start saving money, even when you don’t think you have anything worth saving for.

Going Into Debt For Something You Don’t Truly Need

Sometimes we need to accrue debt for certain major life purchases such as college or a mortgage. However, you should never go into debt for a major purchase that you don’t actually need. For instance, buying that luxury car may seem like a great idea at the time, but will you still think so ten years from now when you’re still trying to pay it off?

Not Thinking Long-Term

One of the major issues people face with their finances is not thinking about the long term. Short term goals, such as paying off a car or paying down debt or saving up for a special trip, are great, but you also need to think about how your current financial situation will impact you in the future.

15 Terrible Excuses That Will Wreck Your Finances

common money excuses
We all tend to make excuses from time to time. It’s just human nature. But I’ve seen people rely too heavily on excuses when it comes to money. When they have too much debt or can’t seem to make ends meet they pull out the excuses as to why their life has to be this way. The excuses become a way to avoid dealing with the real problems, which are usually fixable with effort. Here are the most common excuses I hear and how you can combat them in your own life.

I Just Can’t Manage Money

Some people get it in their heads that finance and money are just concepts that are so far above their understanding that they’ll never get it. Finance is only for the super intelligent, they think. Either that or they believe that, having tired and failed, that money is just not something they “get.” “I can’t” is a great excuse. It lets you off the hook for so many things. The truth is that you can manage money, it just requires some time, effort, and a little education that you aren’t willing to put forth. Little kids can grasp the basics of money management with a little effort. So can you. Try to figure it out. Ask for help. Read or take a class. Get in there and work with your money. Involvement and practice are the antidotes to, “I can’t.”

I’ll Never Get Ahead, so Why Bother?

This is defeatist thinking. For whatever reason you’ve convinced yourself that you’ll never be better off than you are today so you won’t even put forth the effort to try. And you know what? You’re right. If you won’t try to change things they will remain exactly the same. Here’s the thing: Unless you have a crystal ball, you can’t know for sure that you’ll never get ahead and be better off than today. So what’s wrong with trying? If things don’t work out, you’re still where you are today. But aren’t the potential payoffs worth at least trying? Even with a little effort you can drastically improve your finances so think about what might happen if you really make a push to be better.

I’m Only Young Once

This one is legendary. People rationalize all kinds of crazy, irresponsible spending in the name of mortality. “I want to make memories while my kids are still little so we need that expensive vacation.” “I might get run over by a bus tomorrow, so I want to buy that diamond ring.” It’s true, we all grow up, age, and eventually die. It’s sad and there is something to be said for balancing the needs of tomorrow with the desire to live life today. But when you’re spending money you don’t have under the excuse that you might die tomorrow or that your kids won’t have any good memories of their childhoods, you’re not living a balanced life. You’re completely neglecting your (and your kids’) future needs for today’s wants and that’s a road to disaster. Do this often enough and you’d better hope you do die young because you won’t have anything to see you through your old age.

I Deserve a Treat/Reward

You work hard for your money and you want a reward. I don’t deny that you deserve to enjoy some of the money you work so hard for. But you don’t deserve to enjoy every last cent of it at the expense of your future needs. You have to take a balanced approach and enjoy some of your money today while saving enough that you can enjoy it later. And not all money is meant to be enjoyed. Sometimes money has to pay for things that are no fun like medical care, taxes, car or home repair, or school tuition. When you’re spending recklessly on rewards you’re forgetting the fact that you earn money to pay for more than fun. It’d be nice if all money could be used for fun and nothing else, but that’s not the case.

I’m Not Good at Math

People who are afraid of math trot out this excuse to avoid dealing with their finances. But you know what? You don’t have to be good at math to be good at finance. All you need to know how to do is add, subtract, multiply and divide. And you don’t even have to be that good at those with calculators and software programs to help you. There is no calculus, geometry, or algebra involved in personal finance. It’s basic math. Personally, I stunk at math in school but I am good at personal finance. Even with a math phobia you can become good at personal finance if you’re willing.

I’m Too Overwhelmed to Know Where to Start

If you’re really in a financial mess it is easier to say you don’t know where to start than it is to begin. But if things are really bad, it doesn’t matter where you start. Anything is going to be better than where you are. It’s like cleaning a very messy house. Does it matter if you start in the bathroom or the living room? Nope, because every little bit you clean up is going to improve the overall picture. With finance it doesn’t really matter if you start with credit cards, the mortgage, or saving. Anything is going to be an improvement so just pick something and work on it. Chances are that the next step will become clearer after you work on one thing for a while.

I’ll Get to It Later

Funny how “later” is the time that never comes. We put things off and later never comes around. We get busy with other things and later comes and goes. Then we get busy with more things and never get around to all of our “later” projects. With finance the longer you put something off, the more difficult it becomes to deal with, the more it costs you, or it becomes too late as in the case of insurance and wills. Take care of things when you think of them. Learn not to put things off because procrastination will only cause you more problems.

I Don’t Make Enough Money to Have the Lifestyle I Want

Maybe you don’t make enough money right now to solve your financial problems or have the things you want. But that can be fixed with more income (or reduced spending). Go get a second job. Freelance from home. Ask for a raise at work. Look for a job that pays more. Take on overtime. Send your spouse back to work. These may not be easy or popular choices but if lack of income is your excuse, the only way to fix it is to bring in more income. All of the problems/obstacles (childcare, time management, inexperience, etc.) of generating more income can be solved with some thought and perseverance. If you really need more income, the only way to get it is to work more.

Fate/Karma/God Is against Me

Many people blame whatever power rules their world for their money troubles. “Someone up there hates me,” is a popular excuse because it lets you off the hook. You can’t succeed if “someone” isn’t letting you. I don’t know enough about theology to be an expert, but I don’t think that anyone “up there” is actively gunning for you. Chances are your problems are of your own making. You made a bad decision. You got involved with the wrong people. You spent money you didn’t have. You weren’t informed about what you were getting into. Your decisions and actions are yours and they can be fixed, or at least not repeated. Sometimes things just don’t work out, but it doesn’t mean that someone hates you and that you’ll never succeed. Figure out what went wrong and then do things differently next time.

I Won’t Fit in/I’ll Lose My Friends

Ah, peer pressure. If you start saving money and stop spending lavishly, what will your friends think? They won’t invite you out. They might think you’re weird. They might think (eek!) that you have financial problems. So you keep things the same as they’ve always been to keep from running afoul of your friends’ perceptions. But this isn’t helping you. As your mother would have said, “Do you really want to be friends with people like this?” Change what you need to change and if your friends can’t deal with it, find new friends.

I Got Screwed by [a Lender, an Employer, the IRS, a Relative…]

Many people blame others for their financial problems. “The bank didn’t explain things to me.” “My employer fired me.” “Joe didn’t pay back that $1,000 I loaned him.” “The greedy IRS took $10,000 in back taxes.” The truth is these problems are the result of bad decisions on your part (or uncontrollable events like massive layoffs). If you owe the IRS, it’s because you didn’t file correctly. If you couldn’t lose that $1,000, you shouldn’t have lent it to irresponsible cousin Joe. If the bank screwed you, it’s because you didn’t read the fine print. If your employer fired you and it wasn’t part of a massive layoff related to the economy, you didn’t do your job well enough. These things are your fault and blaming someone else won’t fix it. You have to figure out where you went wrong and then do things differently next time.

I Don’t Have Time

Really? But you have time to watch TV for three hours a night or play video games for six hours at a stretch. You can find the time, but you just don’t want to. When you don’t devote time to your finances you’ll find that they can get out of control pretty quickly. A few months of unbalanced checkbooks, unpaid bills, investing in the wrong products, or not saving anything can cost you big time. When you first set out to manage your finances it takes a lot of time to get things organized and set up to run smoothly. But once you’ve got everything under control, it only takes a few minutes each day to keep things on track. Be disciplined and carve out the time to deal with your finances just like any other important responsibility.

I’m Scared I Might Screw Up

It’s true that some aspects of finance like taxes, owning a business, and investing can be scary and can carry bad consequences if you mess up. But you have to push past that fear if you want to succeed. You can learn what you need to know. There are plenty of books, websites, and advisors out there that can help you and prevent screw ups. The IRS is more than willing to help with your tax questions because they want your money. Many organizations are devoted to helping business owners handle things like taxes, incorporation, and payroll. A reputable financial advisor can help with your investing decisions. You don’t have to go it all alone. And even if you do screw up, chances are it can be fixed if you work at it. Financial screw ups aren’t fatal. You may have a setback, but you can come back from it.

I’m Too Old/Young, so Why Start Now?

Age doesn’t matter. If you’re young and have very little money, you need to carefully manage and grow what you do have. You need to think about your future, not about those new shoes in the store window. If you’re old and your finances are a mess, it’s not too late to fix it. Maybe you don’t have millions, but you can save up something. Work a couple of extra years. Get your estate paperwork straight. Try to limit future damage. Age isn’t an excuse. Whether you’re young or old there is always something you can do to improve your financial situation.

I Don’t Want to Think about That

No one likes to think about the bad things that might happen and sometimes it feels like if you think about them, they’ll happen. It’s like inviting the devil to the door. But that’s exactly what good financial management forces you to do. You have to think about what happens if you die or become disabled. What happens if the house burns down or someone gets very ill? What happens if you lose your job? These are all scary things and it’s easier to ignore them and hope they don’t happen than to face up to them. Bad things happen to everyone and it’s best to prepare for them when you’re able, in your right mind, and not facing the pressure of an emergency situation. Get your will and estate in order. Purchase life insurance, disability insurance, health insurance, and insurance for your home, car, and other belongings. Put together an emergency fund to see you through a job loss or other problems. Get it together now before the bad things happen and you really are screwed.

Excuses are a way to avoid taking responsibility for your finances. I’ll admit: It is easier to fall back on a myriad of excuses than it is to do the real work of becoming financially successful which often requires sacrifice and doing things you may prefer not to do. But making excuses will never get you where you want to be. You may tell yourself that you’re broke because of some excuse, but in your heart you know you could do better. You just won’t because the excuse is easier. Stop making excuses and start getting your financial life in order.