Are You Stuck? Why Money May Not Be Your Problem


My son believes he has money problems.

And this has lead to many, many discussions on how he’s misusing the limited money he has. It’s also why I now have gray hair.

Because my son doesn’t really have a money problem. He lives with his girlfriend and they both make decent money for two young adults. However, they claim to never have enough money. They are stuck in a vicious cycle living paycheck to paycheck. Always believing that they would have less stress if they just had more money. But that’s not really their problem.

Their problem is they think money is the issue when it’s really their attitudes that keep them stuck in this pattern.

If you feel stuck in a never ending cycle where money is always an issue, maybe it’s time to take a step back and look at the big picture. Maybe, just maybe, your beliefs and attitudes about money are holding you back and not your tiny paycheck.

You’re Unrealistic About Your Finances

Yes, we live in a country where many don’t make a living wage, even though they work full-time. Yet, 71% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day. That’s billions of people who somehow manage to survive on a Starbucks coffee budget.

Understanding that you probably make more than 70% of the world’s population puts things in perspective. It’s not easy to live on very little, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work. It’s about making a realistic plan with the money you have.

The first step to getting unstuck is to stop putting your head in the sand. You can’t live in Denial World forever. Take a class and learn how to budget. Streamline and cut costs where you can. Consider debt consolidation. Do whatever you need to do to get a completely realistic look at your financial situation. Even if it’s the last thing you want to be honest about.

You Really Want to Be Appreciated

Businesses were asked what motivates employees? Here’s their surprising answer:

“For a lot of people outside of the world of Human Resources, the obvious answer might be money. But you’d be surprised. The most important thing for motivating employees is that your staff has an appreciation for the work they are doing.”

It’s an easy connection to believe that money is what motivates us. It’s also easy to believe that we would be paid more if we were really appreciated. Who doesn’t think they are worth more money?

Think about your job and what really motivates you to get out of bed every day. Maybe it’s money or maybe it’s that you like what you’re doing. And if the real answer is that you’re not getting the appreciation you deserve, the issue isn’t with your paycheck. It’s with how want to be treated.

And that’s a conversation you have with your boss, not your banker.

You Think More Money Is Always The Answer

I have a friend who makes around $500k a year. Sadly, I do not. However, we both have the approximately the same amount of money in our checking account.

She has a lot more money than I do, but her bills simply equal the amount of money she makes. She lives large which costs a pretty penny. And complains about money stress all the time.

Having more money is one answer, but it’s not the answer. For many, having more money just means larger amounts of debt and bigger bills. If you’re living on $10 a day, then you need more money. If you’re just living beyond your means because you want stuff, you need to learn to control your spending.

Be honest with yourself. Are you stressed out because you can’t afford to put food on the table or are you stressed because you spent your rent money on a new pair of shoes?

Money Doesn’t Always Have to Be Difficult

In After a Financial Crisis: Keeping a Minimalist Approach to Money, I talked about how we almost lost everything in the recession but it was actually a blessing in disguise:

“I’m happier now in every respect. The shock of a financial crisis is incredibly stressful, but learning how to live a simpler life is a blessing. I could have easily regressed into my old spending style and not thought a lot about money or prepare for my future. Yet, it would be crazy not to apply the hard lessons I was forced to learn.”

Not having money was only half my problem. The way I thought about money and how I managed money was really my problem. It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough. It was that I spent money in stupid places and it wasn’t that hard to live on less.

If you’re always stressed about money and feeling stuck spinning your wheels, maybe it’s time to figure out what’s really going on with your finances. Being honest with yourself can be scary, but it’s the only way to truly move forward.