Enough With the Excuses, Already!

Are flimsy contrivances keeping you stuck in a big-debt, small-savings situation? It’s easy to find excuses that let you off the hook but it’s only a temporary reprieve. One excuse just leads to another and another and eventually to a way of life. Perhaps it’s time to explode your excuses.

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Excuse: I don’t have time to learn to manage my money.

The truth is we all have time to do what matters most to us. It makes no sense for you to work as hard as you do only to end up with no solid assets to show for it.

Excuse: I can’t stick with a budget.

Perhaps you’ve been trying to cram yourself into a budget that doesn’t fit. Here’s the way to create a plan that will fit you perfectly: For the next 30 days, keep a written record of every dime you spend. At the end of a month categorize your spending including a total for each. Now multiply each by 12 to see what you will spend in a year if you keep this up. No one will have to point out the problems once you have the truth right there in black and white. You’ll see immediately where you need to make adjustments. Now look for ways to reduce every area of spending by a little bit. Continue tracking your spending, adjusting where necessary to get it below your income. It takes time to get a spending plan just right, so be patient and don’t give up.

Excuse: This purchase will only add a small amount to my credit card balance. I owe so much now anyway, this small amount won’t matter.

That $50 out when added to a typical credit card balance of $1000 immediately turns into a $106 outfit and adds a full three months to the time it will take to repay the balance. Keep this up and you’ll never get out of debt.

Excuse: I can save only $10 a week and that’s not enough to do anything.

Are you kidding? Weekly deposits of $10 added systematically to an account with an average return of 6 percent will grow to $7,118 in ten years. Ten dollars a week is very significant. Just imagine if you could double that. Sure rates aren’t at that level right now, but they’ll come back. So get started saving now so you will be able to benefit from the next upturn in the economy.

Excuse: I’m using all the credit I can get so I can enjoy life while I am young.

Statistics indicate you will live a very long life. The short-lived “joy” of your youthful credit purchases will surely become the enduring bane of your mature years. Old age and poverty shouldn’t show up in the same sentence.

Excuse: I don’t earn enough to participate in my employer’s retirement plan.

Do you earn enough to turn down a raise and a tax deduction? That’s what you’re doing if your employer offers a tax-deferred retirement plan and you don’t participate. The money put into these kinds of plans is free of current taxes and most employers match at least part. That’s like getting a tax-free raise!

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  • Susan

    Where can I find an account paying 6%?

    • Ann

      It helps to read the entire paragraph.

      • Toast Points

        I read the entire paragraph. Nobody has offered 6% in years, and 6% isn’t anywhere on the near horizon. In fact, tax-free munis yielding even 5% are being called right and left.

        This was a lazy journalism example that Mary used because it sounded good. It probably sounds really appealing to dreamers who don’t know straight up about money management — the folks who don’t have two nickels to rub together because of poor decisions, overspending, and whatnot.

        • Ann

          If Susan had explained her ojbection the first time, it would have been a more meaningful criticism. As written, it was pot meet kettle, IMO. I agree with you to some extent, but I also think she’s giving advice there that people would be smart to heed. YMMV

        • Maggie

          I disagree. Mary referenced an account, not a savings account specifically. I save for the short and long term. While my ST savings is earning approx 1%, my LT savings is invested in Vanguard funds, and meets/exceeds the 6% return over it’s life. My 401k is also performing at over 6%. All of these types of savings can benefit someone who commits to saving even the $10/week. That is $520, and can be saved or added to an IRA each year.

  • Toast Points

    I’m all for spending less and saving. But where, oh, where, does Mary get the nonsense about a 6 percent average return in an account??? Not in CDs. Not in Money Market. Not in bank savings accounts for sure. A dumb example, if you ask me.

    • DianaB

      I agree absolutely. There is NOWHERE where you can get that kind of savings %. It has not even been close to 1% in years. Yet, I still continue to put my savings into accounts that yield next to nothing. That means the bank/credit union can loan my money out to someone else and make a killing on the interest on their end. But it is not in checking or under the mattress.

      The object of saving is earning, I know. Encouraging savings is a big deal. Try to explain to your children why they should be saving when there are no foreseeable changes on the horizon percentage-wise.

      My credit union did a sort of a bonus thing just last month. They gave an additional 1/2 % (HALF, MIND YOU) on whatever balance was in your savings at the end of January. I think I made something like 38 cents on almost $1,000. I made 22 cents the month before. Doesn’t that make you smile :)) Just remember, compound interest folks…LOL