You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Spend now, save later” — the mindset of some modern millennials. And if, at one point in your life you’ve had this kind of mentality, you’ve probably also experienced your bank account going from “make it rain” to “make it last the week”. It’s a trend, and it’s a bad one to follow as more and more young Filipinos are falling into debt faster than they can make bank.
No matter how we try to reach our financial goals—cut out unnecessary expenses, or perhaps seek other ways to increase our income—there will still be times that we just can’t seem to save the money. So when you find yourself struggling to make it to the next payday all the time, you need a serious wake up call and maybe a lock on your wallet.
Check out these red flags that will tell you that you’re living beyond your means:
1. You’re always broke by the end of the month.
There are two things we feel when payday comes: Either the blissful feeling of excitement because our pockets are filled up again, or distress because before we can even enjoy the fruits of our labor, it slips away from our hands and into the hands of the monthly expenses. Plus, there are those usual Friday night shenanigans and eating out on a regular basis which leave us with very little by the end of the month.
2. Not paying your bills on time.
Forgetting to pay your bills because it “just slipped your mind” is one thing, but not having enough cash to pay on time is another—it’s already an indication that your spending habits are beyond measure.
3. You’re reliant on credit cards to maintain your lifestyle.
Using your credit card is okay only if you can afford to pay the dues each month without having to starve yourself just to pay them. But if you’ve begun to use your credit card to pay for mostly everything because you’re always short on cash, well, newsflash: you can’t afford your lifestyle.
4. You’re always at your credit card limit.
And because you’re always using your credit card, chances are, you’re nearing your credit limit, or worse, maxed it out. It’s the worst situation to be in, because you are paying your bills, the interest, and over-limit fees at the same time. That’s a lot of money!
5. You hold back on spending for essentials.
If there comes a point in your life when money becomes so scarce that you hold back spending for the essential stuff like groceries, toiletries and clothes, then you’re probably spending your money on the wrong things.
6. You let FOMO dictate your spending.
Do you get jealous when your friends shop or go on luxurious vacations? Don’t try to keep up with the Kardashians because they won’t be the ones paying for your bills when they come in the mail. We know, it feels crappy to miss out on stuff, but don’t let FOMO (fear of missing out) dictate your spending. You don’t need to give up on your social life. You just need to find cheaper ways to spend time together.
7. Savings? You don’t have any.
Because you’ve been using them—what little you have—to pay the bills, or spending them to maintain a certain lifestyle. Ideally, you’re not supposed to spend it to pay off debt, rather keeping it for long-term financial goals like retirement, or emergencies. Ed Snyder, CFP, ChFC, of Oaktree Financial Advisors, Inc. says you should at least save 10-15 percent of your income, if you can’t even achieve that, it’s already a sign that you’re living beyond your means.
8. Emergency fund? What is that?
Part of the reason you need to save is to pay, in cash, for those inevitable emergencies. Your car lost power in the middle of EDSA, you had to rush your dog to the vet, or, God forbid, your mom got admitted to the hospital. We’ll never know when these situations come, but if you’re not prepared for the unexpected things, things will only get difficult.
9. You don’t have a written budget.
Finally, not having a written budget for your monthly expenses might encourage you to overspend and live beyond your means. When you jot down your monthly budget, you’ll know how much more or less you can spend. It also lets you know how much money you can save each month. Once you get a sense of your own spending patterns, you can start working toward setting a realistic budget that allows you to save and spend more wisely.
Living within your means may make you feel limited, but we swear that you cannot enjoy financial happiness and peace of mind if you’re not free from debt. Buying expensive things can bring temporary happiness, but it will never make you happier. Cut out on some expenses today—try a 30-day spending cleanse where you only spend for the necessary things like bills, groceries, and transportation. If you’re trying to save but your current salary isn’t enough for it to be possible, you could either find another job that pays better, or do some passion projects on the side to earn extra income.