Money is one of the biggest stressors for Americans; there are hundreds of surveys out there that reflect this. I would hazard a guess that it isn’t the rich people worrying about how they’re going to make their next billion, but instead the poor people worrying about how they’re going to pay rent this month.
You won’t find a magic word or a cheat code that’s going to get you and your family out of poverty in this series. There’s no get-rich-quick scheme here. Instead, I’ll offer some suggestions on how to tackle your financial obligations and make decisions in a way that’s going to put you on track to exit poverty, or at the very least, increase your net worth. You’ll often hear people say that “poverty is a mindset.” I find that phrase offensive. A lot of people are living in poverty due to circumstances completely outside of their control. A single mother of three with no degree doesn’t have a lot of options for a sustainable income. Putting the blame on their mindset is patronizing and demeaning. With that being said, your attitude and approach to your finances can absolutely make a difference in your financial situation, and although your mindset is secondary to your income level, it’s still a factor.
As a disclaimer, this is not at all financial advice. These are just some lessons that I have learned in my life, often the hard way, that I’m hoping will help you on your financial journey. I absolutely advise you to visit with a financial advisor to get a plan for yourself that’s tailored to your needs and your financial situation.
Making a budget is a crucial first step in achieving your financial goals. Whether you’re making four figures or eight, everyone needs a budget. There are a ton of free apps for your phone that will automate most of the process for you. However, I recommend keeping an old-school budget using pen and paper. For me, writing things down helps make them more concrete. It’s one thing to scroll through an app and see all the money you’ve spent on fast food, but it’s another thing to write down in your ledger that you just dropped $10 on burritos. The best thing about a personal budget is that it’s personal; you can make it however you want to. The only person that budget is going to benefit is you, so feel free to do it in any way you like. As long as your tracking your income and your expenses, you’re doing it correctly.