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Living Examples: Paycheck to Paycheck

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My father once said, brilliantly, that you can learn something from anyone whether it be what to do or what not to do.  As I got older, that little pearl of wisdom has held true without fail.  Today, I bring to you one such example.  Ironically enough, I’m actually providing two examples in one!

The below image is an exchange of comments that I found on Facebook (I censored names & faces), and interestingly enough, it’s astonishing to see what you can learn from one sentence.  The original post is from a person who is clearly trying to be responsible.  They’ve obviously studied, and taken a few exams for school and done quite well.  This is a person that you could learn a good lesson from.

What Is In a Sentence? That Which We Call Irresponsible…

What we see after that post is a response from one of their friends that is read as “Girl when I get my check we should go shopping ;)”  Now, grammatical errors aside (as I make plenty myself, and FB is a casual environment), what things do we know about this person from that simple sentence?

  1. The person probably lives paycheck to paycheck
  2. They most likely have little to no money in their checking account
  3. They most likely have little to no savings
  4. They probably have little financial discipline
  5. And, as a consequence of #4, they are probably not financially stable

What Happens When You Assume?

Firstly, please note that I’m not getting on a financial high horse.  I know people are hurting right now with job losses and increasing bills.  I’m not trying to disparage people who are living paycheck to paycheck.  I grew up in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck, and vowed to never live like that again, and I have so far accomplished this.

I’m absolutely blessed, but I also want to teach people how to avoid this if they can, and I firmly believe that nearly all people can avoid this lifestyle.

Yes, I understand that we’ve drawn broad conclusions from a simple sentence, but often the most meaning can be found in what a person doesn’t say.  I can assure you that if Dave Ramsey comments on your wall he won’t say “let’s go shopping once I get my check.”  It would be something more to the effect of “Do you want to go shopping this afternoon?”

He is financially prepared for this undertaking.  If a person has enough money in their account to go shopping, then it would negate the need of stating “once I get my check.”  That phrase is essentially useless in that context.

Get Off of Your Hamster Wheel!

By making this statement, this person has made a commitment to spend future earnings which they haven’t yet received.  Doesn’t that sound ludicrous to you?  It used to be that people would spend money that was already earned & saved, but now we spend what we haven’t yet earned (credit cards, anyone?).

This perpetual spending habit is what keeps people on the paycheck to paycheck hamster wheel.  Worse yet, some people decide to “splurge” while on this hamster wheel, and jump from the frying pan into the fire by using payday loans.  In case you’re a new reader, here is how I feel about payday loans:

If you want to stop living that way, then you need to make a commitment to not spend your future money.  It may require hard choices, but it is the only way.

Saving Money Isn’t Easy

No one ever said saving money was easy!  I’ll even go as far as to say that the actual act of saving money is one of the most inconvenient things I have to do in my regular day-to-day.  But when I need the money, it is conveniently there, and there is more there than what I originally put in (interest income).  By spending your future money, you are robbing yourself of income.

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