I am indebted to bloggy friend Frugal Desperado for the original post that sparked the idea for this column. Moreover, I'm always indebted to my favorite bloggers that take time to write about their frugal adventures and also to all those that comment here. Thank you for reading and commenting!
Have a reason why
In your circle of family and friends, you can probably think of a few individuals that always seem prepared for an emergency. They don’t live a flashy life but, instead, quietly put aside money for retirement, family vacations, education and unforeseen events. Although these conversations rarely happen, if you were to ask those folks why they feel it is important to save their money you might get a variety of answers.
Many people would simply reply that it is how they were raised—living within their means and saving for a rainy day is second nature to them. Others feel that they must be self-reliant because there is no one to bail them out if they get into trouble. Most realize that government pensions won’t be enough to live on and so are planning for their own comfortable retirement without being a burden to their children. Many want to leave their kids a legacy that will help them have a stable future. A good portion of this financially prepared crowd would say “all of the above”.
At the same time, you may know some people that do not yet have their financial wish list in place, but they are working on it. This group has come to realize that incomes can fluctuate and it’s important to control spending in order to accommodate those fluctuations.
If questioned as to why they set aside money for tomorrow rather than just living “in the moment” and spending everything they make, this group may have many of the same answers as the group discussed above. But you might also hear reasons like they need to pay off student or consumer debt in order to buy a home, they want to travel and live worry free. Perhaps they want an income property or to put their money to work for them through investments. Like their more financially stable counterparts, this group of people has a goal in mind and actively pursues it through controlling spending, paying off debt and, when possible, saving their money.
If you look hard enough, among us there is also a group of people that feels it is impossible to control their financial situation. There may be a variety of reasons for this sad outlook. Perhaps an individual is in a relationship where one spouse controls and mismanages the money. Many people were ill-prepared for the downturn in the economy and feel powerless to correct their state of affairs. Divorce, death, lawsuits, foreclosures or countless other calamities can understandably sour your viewpoint.
Even though the future may look bleak, it is still useful for people who feel buried by their finances to have reasons why they want to get things under control. Is it so your kids can have a better life? Or so that you will not have to feel worried and stressed as more bills pile up? So that you aren’t always on the brink of disaster? So that a small crisis like a flat tire doesn’t create a domino effect of overextending credit, interest charges and inability to pay for daily essentials?
For this latter group, the question is not only why—why try to get back on your feet, get in control, overcome these financial hurdles—but also how. How can you eventually count yourself among those who are consistently paying down debt and making progress towards goals like home ownership, a good credit rating, some money in the bank? Where on earth will you start?
For those who are completely overwhelmed by their financial problems, there are organizations that can help. Go to the Credit Counselling Canada website to find a credit counselor near you. Yes, it will be stressful to lay out your paperwork and truly confront your situation, but not doing so causes even more stress and ensures the trouble will follow you long into the future.
There are other community resources at your disposal. AlbertaWorks and CanSask have offices in Lloydminster to help residents with job searches, training and assistance. 3A Academy helps people improve workplace and job seeking skills. The Lloydminster Learning Council provides a number of affordable programs for the public. And don’t forget the local library as one of any community’s most important sources of information.
For those who want to reach financial stability, having a goal is the first step. Keep your goal in mind as you make a plan to achieve it. Reach out to reputable, non-profit community organizations for help. Be honest about your situation and get the referrals and resources you need. Once you have been pointed in the right direction, use your “reason why” to stay motivated. Accumulating debt can happen fast, paying it off is going to take time, hard work and commitment. Think of a good reason to get started.