AKA Why financial advice sucks
Tomorrow is payday. It is a pretty exciting day around this house because it means we will finally be able to buy food, or get a refill on a prescription. I get all giddy when I think about the direct deposit hitting my bank account tonight and the Children’s Hospital bill I will finally be able to get off my back tomorrow with a triumphant call directly to their billing department. This is such a momentous day that a regular stamp and envelope won’t do, these folks deserve one on one attention, I mean after all they have been diligently hounding me for months, it is the least I can do. I will then carefully assess all our bills and pay the ones who have waited the longest or sent the most threatening mail. I will budget out our food and gas expenses and the regular weekly doctor visits we can’t seem to get away from. I will laugh manically at the remaining bills all clambering for their one shot at making the grade on payday as I shove them ceremoniously back into the pile to wait two more weeks until the next payday. Sorry fellas, today just isn’t your day. No hard feelings, okay?
Lately I have been perusing financial web sites searching for tips and tricks to get ahead or to make money work. I have read the blogs, the books, the comments, the sites. I have absorbed every word of wisdom and stupidity out there to consume. And today you my lucky readers will get to learn the number one most important lesson I have learned from all of this research. I am going to tell you the only thing you will ever need to know about living paycheck to paycheck and how to rise above it. You don’t have to listen to Dave Ramsay, you don’t have to watch Suze Orman’s show, or even read Manvsdebt (which I do love btw). All you have to do is pay close attention to my very next words.
There is no hope to get ahead or anything you can realistically do to change your situation if you are living paycheck to paycheck.
There, now breathe a sigh of relief. Ahhh, now doesn’t that feel better? Can’t you just feel your tension easing away? I know it does for me. I mean I read this information and it is all I can do to not laugh hysterically or throw my computer across the room. They talk about budgeting- can’t budget with no money FYI. They talk about “paying yourself first”- LOL I haven’t threatened to turn off my electricity so I think I’ll pay utilities first if you don’t mind. Cut back on the frivolous items and learn to live frugally- this one is the best I mean honestly, duh really? Let’s see, I’m still wearing maternity clothes and my son is two years old, we use towels from my childhood you can literally see through, and we shop for necessities like food and medicine at Walmart against the better judgment of every fiber of my being. I haven’t made a frivolous purchase since Bush was in the White House. There is no amount of frugal living that can fix what is broken here.
So those people and those sites are lovely little distractions you can read daily to make yourself feel productive or like you are trying, I get it, that’s what I’ve been doing. You can commit to selling your crap to make ends meet, you can put cash in envelopes and only spend what’s inside them all week. You can pay yourself first and build an emergency fund. But once you have sold everything, cut back on everything, done without everything, and completely rearranged your life and how you define yourself as a human being and a parent (if that moniker applies) and you are still living paycheck to paycheck and you still can’t pay your bills, then what??
Its funny not one of the resources I have seen even addresses this topic. None of them say what you should do if you are drowning in medical bills or helping family with expenses. None of them say what you should do when your 3 year old stops fitting in his clothes and you don’t have money to buy him new ones (telling him capris pants are all the rage with boys doesn’t fly around here). None of them discuss what a real person should do if they actually have already done everything they can and still haven’t made any headway.
I mean I read one blog post last night from a very nice and well meaning woman talking about her family’s plan to get out of 90K in debt. It was a great plan, kudos to her. She discussed why they weren’t doing bankruptcy and what she was learning about money and changing her mindset. It was so lovely, I almost started to believe her little story of woe and triumph over the credit card companies by the “little” guy when she tells me-the reader- her secret. They are paying $800 dollars more than min payments on their credit cards. No, no , that wasn’t a typo dear readers. She just wrote eight hundred dollars, not eighty, not 8, but eight HUNDRED more than the min due. Sorry lady, you just lost me. I don’t have money to pay the minimum payment and your suggestion and reason for triumph is that I pay even more than the minimum?!? Mind you this is after I create my emergency fund of a thousand dollars. Look, I’m college educated, some might even say good with numbers, but I have no clue how I create magical money. I would NEVER even pretend to be in financial distress if I had an extra $800 a month after expenses and paying myself. This poor blogger is lucky it was midnight and I was reading this blog on my phone because otherwise I might have just been forced to call her out- You Miss are an IMPOSTER!
She has already told me she was stressed about money, her family is in debt, she can’t find happiness, oh what will she do!!! Apparently pull magical money out of her nether regions. I may be described as magical by my husband, but my nether regions contain no such plentiful booty (money or otherwise)*ehm*. So hm… I just wasted a significant part of my life reading this drivel and it has nothing to do with a real person and a real person’s problems. Where is the blog for people who lived frugally, didn’t go on vacations and buy big houses and fancy cars but still can’t buy food? Where are the advisors for the people who stretch every penny and whose only entertainment is free hiking and concerts given by the local jr high? I am so tired of the stupid advice. I bet you are too. I mean honestly, how many times can you hear pay yourself first and not think- yeah I’m paying myself first with food and shelter. How many times can you read make more than the minimum payments and all will be right with the world when you don’t have money to pay even the minimum? I don’t know about you all, but I’m done. The next person, writer, blog that dares to utter such ridiculousness is going to get an earful and maybe a sharp slap on the wrist.
So I want to be the first person to tell you that if you live from paycheck to paycheck and you have cut out all the frivolous things in life and you have cut the fat out of your expenses and you eat only rice and beans and you still can’t quite stretch your dollar far enough, that you are not alone, you are not a terrible person, those stupid financial gurus should stop telling you useless advice that even a third grader knows to be true and instead should give you real world advice on how to SOLVE this problem, how to change your future and how to get ahead so that maybe payday isn’t the best day. Maybe payday could come and go without you even really noticing. Maybe payday could be the day you think “What?? More money??? what will I do with all this extra?” Maybe one day payday will be your extra $800 to pay down a card. Give me a break lady, if you have an extra $800 a month you don’t have a problem, you are the problem. Feel sorry for you? nope. Relate to you? Not even a little bit. Sure you seem nice and I’ve no doubt you have had your share of genuine strife and heartache, but if you managed to increase your available money by an extra $800 a month just by changing your spending habits then you aren’t like me because my spending habits didn’t suck to being with. If you then go on to suggest I work more- even though I have a more than full time job and two toddlers who don’t go to school and can’t go to daycare because they don’t take compliments as payment- then I will probably laugh myself straight to a stay in the loony bin. The madness has to stop.
The first thing I’m going to do is get off the ride. I am going to stop all the desperate searches for advice and help, since clearly the advice and help that is out there is not targeted at me. I didn’t make stupid decisions, I didn’t live outside my means, I don’t live in a half a million dollar home, I don’t send my kid to private school. I went to college, I got a job, I negotiated for a better salary, I work hard, I cut coupons, I shop wisely, I don’t buy frivolous things. I need the web site/guru/blog/book that gives clear concise help for those of us who just had bad luck. I’m in the process of working for more money. I am in the process of changing my career to something that earns a better living. I’m in the process of this new life and better way of living. I know I will get out of this hole and I will be ok, I’m strong and I always prevail. But in the mean time I guess I’ll keep living for payday and forgive myself for things I cannot control. So what is the number one thing you can do to relieve financial hardship if you have been a responsible member of a capitalistic society?
Forgive yourself for things you can’t control. Not all money problems come from poor choices, or attempts to keep up with the Kardashians.