This is a guest post by Michelle Argento, a professional writer who began Fit is the New Poor, a blog chronicling her journey to get out of debt, find her purpose, and find a way to afford all the shoes she could ever dream of. You can find her on Twitter.
When we think of what is costing us money, what comes to mind? The answer to this question is usually something general like the interest on our debt, our frequent trips out to eat, or our failure to turn off the lights when we leave a room. While all admirable and certainly huge factors when it comes to factors keeping us from having a fatter wallet, there often more “hidden” things that are really costing you money.
Here are 7 lesser known reasons why you are still in debt:
1. Clutter and Mess
Take a look around your home. How would you describe it? I hope the first description that comes to you is organized. Unorganization, especially of important documents, can totally add up when it comes to dollars and cents.
For example, have you ever lost a library book in your own personal collection? We have… several times! And it has cost us quite a large sum of money when added all up. I’m talking $50 in library fines for a couple of books that slipped underneath our couch!
Mess can take its toll as well. Dust, grime, and mold can wreak havoc on your immune system and cause frequent visits to the doctors. No one wants the cause of a massive doctor’s bill to be because they forgot to sweep the corners of their bedroom every once in awhile!
2. Lack of a Can-Do Attitude
Speaking of cleaning, having a bit of drive for home economics skills can prevent you from paying others to do the dirty work.
I have this friend who refuses to learn how to sew. Every time one of her shirts loses a button or hits a small snag, she tosses the item like it’s completely worth it. If she tightened up her can-do attitude and watched a couple of YouTube videos on basic sewing techniques, she could be saving herself countless amounts of dollars on new, replacement clothing.
This idea could be applied to many things around the home- from weekly maid services, to monthly car washes, and a daily lawn mower or gardner. With a little can-do attitude, saving around the home could be easily done, and the sense of self-satisfaction would sate you throughout the project’s more grueling work.
3. Expensive Hobbies
I am a big believer that when paying off debt, saving for an emergency loan, or working towards early retirement, you shouldn’t give up absolutely everything. No, life should be enjoyed… in moderation.
Hobbies, in particular, can drain our resources and make us reevaluate our priorities. Take expensive music lessons, for example. Sure, learning guitar is such an admirable hobby. But there are many alternatives to private guitar sessions with an aging rock legend. There are online classes, community college sessions, and group courses that help keep the costs down.
Choose your hobbies wisely by prioritizing those that you like the most. Once you know where you stand, make your money decisions based off of that. If you enjoy your weekly hockey games over your car restoration, invest a bit more in new skates rather than new seat covers.
4. A Bad Job
Working a job that isn’t quite cutting it in the happiness department? We’ve all been there. A bad job can tax us emotionally and physically. But more so, it can even take its toll on us financially.
Working a horrible job can lead to a slew of issues. If you’ve been at it for awhile, you may notice an increase of depression or anxiety like symptoms. While not necessarily hitting the wallet directly, allowing job-related stress to continue may cost you down the line in mental health costs.
In addition, sticking with a job that is not fulfilling may lead to bad workplace habits like gossiping, showing up late, diminishing quality, etc. Eventually, a supervisor takes notice when the little negatives begin to add up, and that bad job may become no job soon enough.
5. Unfinished Education
An education is one of the most wisest investments we can make for ourselves and our future. In this economy, not keeping up with the necessary education can hold you back from getting that big promotion or from moving up in your chosen career path.
This doesn’t mean you should instantly sign up for your MBA. Instead, look around at postings for the career or position you are interested in. If your education doesn’t match up, it’s time to get back to school. But if it’s not essential or your amount and quality of work may make up for it, put your degree on the backburner.
6. A Big-Pocketed Friend
We all have that friend or family member in our life that continues to make what we perceive to be bad financial decisions. These are the people who insist upon having the top of the line technology, the most expensive designer clothing, or the largest home on the block.
While we can choose to ignore their excessive lifestyle and forge our own path, occasionally their bad habits can rub off on us.
For many, it’s just the little part of their relationships with these people that can get the best of us. A friend who insists on going to the upscale brunch place for bottomless mimosas instead of the dinner down the road could cost us double what we had wanted to spend. And those mimosas? Who wants to spend $20 on bottomless mimosas at 9am on a Sunday when just one or two $4 glasses would be enough?
While it would be easy to say to just dump these Joneses, it would be unfair to lose a valuable relationship over something so simple as money. A better alternative is to modify the friendship instead with dose of honesty. Do not be afraid to tell the friend that their brunch rituals isn’t going to fly.
7. Trim the fat. Bank the rewards.
The answer to what’s really costing you money is: you. What do all of these have in common? Will power. Whether it is deciding to organized the stack of bills on your kitchen table, turning the friend down for after-dinner drinks at the fancy bar, or coming in to work on time; making a significant change in our money habits begin and end within ourselves.
What about you? What do you do that is making it harder for you to pay down your debt? What changes can you make? Leave a comment below. Thanks!