Thursday, November 14, 2019

Habits that Keep You Broke

Do you suffer from "too much month at the end of the money?"

Being broke is often a result of habits that are kept like house pets. Working so hard and having no money in the wallet is self-inflicted bondage. How does this keep happening?

You've done the Dave Ramsey School of Stop That.

You receive notifications from your bank when your account balance is low.

You know how to do basic math such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

So what keeps happening to your funds? You're subtracting faster than you're adding, multiplying debt and dividing your brain into stress-filled compartments that alternate between "Things are fine" and "This is such a mess." Is this right? No. Then what is it? Sin. Financial irresponsibility is sin. Is that the sound of your mind shutting down? Well, before you go, remember that the definition of sin is basically this: you know the right thing to do, but you're continuing to do the wrong thing anyway.

"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James 4:17)

Habits matter. Wrong financial habits will keep you working harder and harder and you'll still be that person without a $20 bill in your wallet. Here are some of the common habits that keep people broke:

1. Buying things just because they were a "good deal." 
Stocking up at low prices or grabbing that bargain item makes sense when it is done with planned cash. It's a habit that doesn't make sense when you're using a debit card that has only ten dollars left in the account. Too many people brag about what low prices they've paid, but they still don't have any money. Something is off. Someone is burning through money without admitting it.

2. Refusing to practice self-denial.
"I work hard." That may be a true statement, but working hard is not a license to live beyond your means. If you spend more than you earn, you will need to work harder to close the gaps created by the "I work hard" mentality. This habit is also hard on relationships, because you'll spend less time with loved ones while trying to work overtime and extra jobs to make ends meet.

3. Impulsive financial decisions.
Whether it's a new car, an impromptu vacation or any other unplanned purchase, if you don't have the funds but you still make the purchase you will be broke. Keep this habit up, and you'll have more debt than you can pay off in your lifetime, which is very discouraging. That sinking feeling you get when you go to the mailbox is a side effect of spending beyond your means.

4. No budget.
Even a rough draft budget on lined paper in an old school notebook is better than no budget at all. You know how much money you're earning, and those dollars have assignments. Here's what happens without a budget: the tithe is completely skipped, money enters and exits the bank account in about 24 hours, and then you have weeks with no cash until the next paycheck. Working without a plan is bound to result in overspending and wasted funds. This is like flushing money down the toilet.

5. No savings.
Count on it: The car will need tires, you will need to go to the dentist or doctor, and something in your home or apartment is going to break down. All of this happens on a regular rotation. Knowing that bills create themselves, you will either set money aside for the unexpected or you will use credit cards to dig a financial grave. It's a choice. Choosing unwisely creates pressure that robs life of joy.

6. Pretending to have money.
Keeping up an image is a paper doll lifestyle. Paper dolls had paper clothes that eventually wore out and had to be thrown away. The doll wore out, too. Living on credit to appear to be well off is eventually going to wear you out as you struggle to keep up the false front. You may have the best cell phone and a smartwatch to match, but what good are those toys if you can't pay your bills? The emotional and physical toll of knowing that your bills far outstrip your income is eating away at your quality of life.

7. Refusing to face reality.
When you know that you have a problem but refuse to face it, you are living in your own unreality. You have created a private world of torment where the bills are piling up, things are being paid late, some bills aren't paid at all, and you keep on spending every time you get a dollar. You may not even know how much you owe. Pride keeps you from confiding in anyone that you're in such bad shape, and denial keeps you from facing reality.

These bondage habits can be changed, but you have to decide that you've had enough of yourself. Here comes the Christmas spending season. Are you really going to spend hundreds of dollars on gifts when you are thousands of dollars in debt, or are you going to give yourself the gift of new financial habits?

"He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he." (Proverbs 16:20)

You don't have to be a financial planner to handle money wisely. You just have to be a willing student. Even if you've had little or no financial training growing up, you can learn. If you can earn, you can learn how to handle your earnings.

It is not God's plan for you to live in the bondage of financial mismanagement. Choose to make this the season to change. Decide that you are going to honor God by being a wise steward of your finances. Learning how to live on less than you earn will change your life in very satisfying ways. Unwise handling of finances is not "adulting"; it's being a toddler in an adult body.

Pause. Pray. Commit to new financial habits. Make yourself accountable to someone who will care enough to encourage you to stay on task, and will cheer you on to freedom. You've had enough of the habits that have kept you broke. It will feel amazing to have money left at the end of the month.

"Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?" (Proverbs 27:23-24)
Francie "Wordsmith" Taylor

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