Increasingly the number of American Households that live “paycheck to paycheck” has increased over the years. There are several factors for this increase - - growth in personal income has remained flat (roughly 6.22%; except for 13.78% in 1979), the buying power of the U.S. dollar has decreased (inflation and cost of goods sold), and consumer debt has increasingly increased. Of these factors, there’s only two of these that we can personally control - -growth in personal income and personal spending and debt. For the sake of today’s conversation, we will only focus on personal spending and debt.
Have you gotten to the point where you money situation has gotten complicated? Your payday has somehow magically become everyone else’s payday. The moment your paycheck hits your bank account, it is being disbursed to others within 24 hours. The Euphoria you once felt on payday is now short lived? Once your wonderful and exciting weekend is over, you are back to the reality of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it is time to reassess your money relationship and take ownership of how you are contributing to making your money relationship more complicated. Believe it or not, you may be a compulsive spender and this behavior is an easy entrée to unsurmountable debt.
So, you might ask, how does one determine whether or not theyare compulsive debtor? Glad you asked. Do any of the following statements describe you and your relationship with money?
-I don’t have a clear picture of my financial position. For example, account balances, debt or loan balances, interest rates, monthly expenditures, or financial contractual obligations.
-I don’t have to worry, I have a safety net. My parents/spouse/adult child will help me out if need be if and when I am in financial trouble.
-I tend to float personal checks between pay periods in hopes that the checks won’t be presented to my bank before my direct deposit has funded the account.
-I am working an extra low wage job to pay off my debt and it seems I am barely making a dent in my existing debt load.
-I have opted to not to carry health insurance coverage or less coverage options with my auto insurance because I can’t afford the premiums. So, I have decided to take on additional risks in an effort to increase my disposal income to pay my debtors.
-I often borrow items and small amounts of money from friends and never return the items or pay them back.
If any of these statements describe you, then you may want to seek a skilled professional to help you regain financial independence and a piece of mind.
There are several resources available to assist you such as debt management counselors, financial coaches, debtors anonymous, and financial therapists. There are pros and cons to each of these such as a group setting versus individual sessions, cost & fees, time commitment, etc. You will have to decide which of these resources works best for you. But, what is key is each of these resources offer a professional accountability partner to help you achieve your goal.
My personal preference is financial therapy. My business partner Dr. Torre and I offer joint financial therapy sessions because we recognize that addressing financial issues and concerns are not just a matter of creating a budget, increasing income, or paying off debt. Many financial issues are a result of individual perceptions, experiences, and the influence of other relationships in your life. Through a three-part series, we engage our clients in an open dialogue to express and proactively address their financial concerns. Our clients are able to draw upon my financial expertise and Dr. Torre’s behavioral expertise to successfully address the root cause of the complication of their financial situation in a non-judgmental environment.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share other resources that share our quest to keep people from suffering in silence in regards to their finances - - The Financial Therapy Association(www.financialtherapyassociation.org), Debtors Anonymous(www.debtorsanonymous.org), the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (www.cfpb.gov), and the National Foundation forCredit Counseling ® (www.nfcc.org) to name a few.