Pattie Lovett-Reid: How to step back from the brink of financial ruin
CTV's chief financial commentator Pattie Lovett-Reid offers advice to those who may be living on the cusp of financial ruin. It can happen to anyone at any time, but a little tweaking can tip the financial scale back in your favour. (© wavebreakmedia/shutterstock.com)
Published Monday, November 13, 2017 6:00AM EST
Do you apply the expression “you only live once” to your spending habits? What about “fear of missing out”?
Whether it’s YOLO or FOMO -- both are dangerous places to be, financially speaking.
The result of either acronym dictating your financial situation could be signs that you do not have control of your financial situation. No one wants to save until it hurts, but no one should spend as if there is no tomorrow.
As difficult as it may be, it’s important to examine your financial situation and recognize signs that you may be in – or headed towards -- trouble.
Signs you’re teetering on the brink of financial ruin:
1) You really have no idea what is it you are spending your money on. All you know for sure is that you want it and want it now -- a new home, a designer handbag or the new iPhone X.
2) You completely disregard or have no idea how much debt you are carrying. On occasion you have been known to pay off one credit card with another one. Consumption often begins with a material purchase but using that credit card quickly begins to morph into use for daily living expenses.
3) You have absolutely no contingency plan or emergency funds set aside in the event you lose your job, the roof leaks or the car breaks down. Living from paycheque to paycheque has become the norm and somehow it has become OK, verses alarming.
So how can you take back control?
1) When something hurts enough, only then will you make changes. You have to acknowledge your financial reality, admit things are out of control and seek out help if you’re overwhelmed. A spending plan could prove to be the solution to your problem.
2) Change is not about doing one big thing right. It’s about doing a lot of little things right. Make small cutbacks in spending, agree to spend only on the things you need, not what you want, and focus on controlling the impulse spending. Don’t let emotions dictate your spending decisions.
3) Set little amounts aside and over time you will build up an emergency fund to deal with the “what if” scenarios in your life.
4) Set up preauthorized purchase plans to pay yourself first – whether you apply it toward debt or decide to save a little and build an investment portfolio. It is not how much you pay yourself, it is the act itself and the discipline that will follow. It comes down to not spending every dime you have coming in.
In case you’re feeling alone here -- living on the cusp of financial ruin can happen to anyone, at any time.
I’ve seen wealthy people with a lavish lifestyle living beyond their means, I’ve chatted with those who suddenly find themselves single, those in low-income households just trying to make ends meet.
You know who you are and changes can be made if you put your mind and resources to it. Before it’s too late, recognize a little tweaking can tip the financial scale in your favour.
Finally, it isn’t always about parents' FOMO, according to Jeff Dixson, a financial educator and author of "Winning The Retirement Game".
Children may put pressure on their parents for fear they don’t get the gifts they want this holiday season. For many, the list gets longer, while the bank account gets smaller.