Problem #46: I Never Have Any Money Left Over at the End of the Month for Fun Stuff.
What’s your “money gap”? Before you leave thinking “How rude is he?” Hear me out. What I mean is: What’s the difference between your necessary expenses and your income? How much extra do you have left over at the end of the month? So . . . what’s yours?
Just check your budget. You do have a budget – right? Do you at least know your necessary expenses? I don’t expect you to know it right off the top of your head – I know you’re not all money nerds like me, but you should at least know where to find it. If you don’t – you guessed it – you have a PROBLEM.
Related: A Budget Will Help You Find Money
If you don’t have a “money gap”, or you don’t know your “gap”, two things will happen. Neither one of them is good.
Without a Money Gap:
You will never be able to save money to achieve your financial goals.
The “money gap” is what allows you to do those things that you want to do. This is the money that makes life easier and fun. Just picture this – your bills are all paid. You have food on the table, and your vehicles are running smoothly.
Maybe that situation sounds like a dream that you wouldn’t want to wake up from. But then, on top of that, think about what you could do with any money left over! Save for retirement, upgrade to a new car, new furniture, or lawn mower (I would love to upgrade my mower!) You could take a nice vacation! The “money gap” makes this possible.
You’ll get discouraged, and fall back into old, bad habits.
Even though we know it’s destructive to compare ourselves to others, we still do it. I know I do. It’s just to easy to see a nice sports car on the road, and immediately think “I wish I could drive that car.”
It’s human nature to want to “give ourselves a little something” during stressful times. After all – we’ve earned it – right? If you have a “money gap”, it’s ok to splurge a little. Your primary needs are still covered. You won’t be late on any bills as long as you stay within the “gap” money.
If you don’t have a “money gap”, are you still going to splurge . . . using what? credit cards? Or maybe you can steal from Peter to pay Paul. So you start juggling bills. Paying one bill late because a different bill was due, and you paid the other one first last month. Things can get stressful before you realize what’s happening. You’re living paycheck-to-paycheck again, and everything seems to be broken.
So . . . what’s Your “Money Gap”?
Obviously, we would like this money “gap” to be as large as possible. There’s only two ways I know to increase this “money gap”. I like to think I’m fairly intelligent, and I’m sure that none of you are dumb either. Are you ready? You can either decrease your necessary expenses . . . or . . . increase your income. That’s it.
Let’s start with your expenses. We already know some ways to save money.
Related: 8 Ways to Save Crazy Amounts of Cash
Are you implementing any other ways to cut your costs? The interesting thing is: once you start paying attention to your expenses, you start to see and find ways to reduce them. Funny how that works. But you can still only cut so much.
And this won’t work for everyone. After all, you still need some money to live (mortgage/rent, food, utilities). You can’t cut your expenses to zero. Wouldn’t that be nice if we could?
The other way is to increase your income. Is your current job fulfilling your current and future income requirements? In other words – is it a career? Are there opportunities for promotions and raises. These are great ways to increase your income incrementally over time.
But maybe you need to look for a new job that pays more? Or perhaps you just need a side job that brings in a little extra money.
Keep in mind that there are some jobs that just won’t support a family – no matter what government says. For example, minimum wage was never intended to be a “living wage”. It’s for low-skill entry-level workers. Entry level – you enter the workforce at this level , but you don’t stay there. At least most people don’t. They work hard, and acquire some skills to make themselves more valuable. Then they move on to better paying jobs.
Related: Check out this post on OneDadsFinance about minimum wage.
If that’s where you are, you need to seriously consider how you are going to get your income up. I don’t want you working at “Burgerworld” ten or even five years from now. Consider your skills and make a plan. Then go for it!
I hope that you have a “money gap”. And no matter what yours is, try to increase it. This is where the fun comes in. You’ll be amazed at how much money you find when you start paying closer attention to your “money gap”.
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