It’s rare that I meet people as enthusiastic about dealing with their money as I am. I recognize that I’m a freak in this regard. If it was socially acceptable, I would quiz everyone I meet about their financial situation, so we could share ideas. Sadly, this is not the case.
I’ve often said that I chose the perfect career: I am nosy about people (in a good way, a caring way, not a bad way), and I am especially nosy about people’s money. So, I became a financial planner. Now people actually pay me to be nosy about their finances!
Beyond my financial planning business, I find myself interested in the financial lives of friends and family. Some have chosen to work with me professionally in this regard, but others haven’t (which is fine, by the way). But my nosy, caring, helpful nature persists, and never more so than when I hear something that implies someone is avoiding dealing with something in their financial life.
Folks, this is a mistake. We all tend to simply ignore those things in life that we find dealing with unpleasant. Most times, however, ignoring issues in your financial life will just lead to more, and potentially larger, problems. Let’s look at just a couple of examples.
If your paycheck falls short every month of covering expenses that exceed your income, you may be racking up credit card debt. Ignoring the problem or thinking the problem will remedy itself “next month” is a mistake. The minute you have to resort to credit to cover an expense, go on high alert. Don’t freak out, but immediately evaluate the situation and create a plan to avoid digging yourself into a deeper hole.
Another example is paying only minimums when you already have credit card debt. You’ve probably seen or heard of examples of the dreadful outcome of only paying the minimum payment due. If not, check out this link.
The moral of the story is to always pay more than the minimum. In fact, pay as much as you can every month. The very best practice when you use credit is to pay your bill in full every month.
While I could provide additional examples, one I’d like to caution against is ignoring collection calls. If you are overdue on any sort of bill, don’t ignore the calls. Instead, reach out and ask for help. Often a payment plan can be worked out with the vendor. If you are getting no help, consult your local Consumer Credit Counseling office (or other non-profit organization whose mission it is to help with debt management)*. Be proactive and handle the problem when it first arises, versus waiting until the situation hits crisis level.
When a financial problem starts to rear its head, you’re often tempted to think, “I’ll handle it soon. No need to sound the alarm.” Sometimes that is true. Other times, however, you are in denial, and the problem is going to intensify before it gets better. Or worse yet, it won’t get better at all without intervention. Do yourself a favor and don’t bury your head in the sand. Be brave and face your financial difficulties head-on. When it comes to your money, be the ox, not the ostrich. Strap on the yoke of your financial problem and pull that wagon with determination until you can lighten the load.
Are you an ox or an ostrich about your money issues? Comment below and share your tips on dealing with financial hardships. Or if you want to start a discussion with some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your thoughts!
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*In Western North Carolina, contact OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling.