Here's the truth: most of us want to do better by our money, know what to do (save more, pay off debt, invest in a 401k, etc.), how to do it (spend less, cut up the credit cards, etc.) and even why it's important (freedom, a better life, the ability to retire early). The problem is, we can't seem to make it happen!
The desire and knowledge exists, but the ability to execute seems to constantly be elusive by circumstances out of control. Does any of this sound familiar?
It happened to me. For years I felt out of control with my money - there was never enough to accomplish all the things I wanted and needed. Or whenever I did save money it suddenly had to go towards an unexpected expense. It took me a while but I finally figured out why.
Here's what it didn't have to do with: making more money. Unexpected windfalls like a bonus or tax returns did not change my brokenness. We often think we can out-earn our financial struggles, and while that may be true it's usually only to an extent. The majority of the work comes with how we approach what we do have (ironically, you'll also find that this is usually the key to generating more).
Everything is not an emergency. It may be an unexpected inconvenience, but the more you allow those to derail you from your ultimate goal the less likely you are to reach it. Keep the emergency in context by asking yourself whether this circumstance will stop or slow you from making money, cause you or your family to get sick, or end up costing you thousands more if you wait to address it.
And even if it is an emergency, it may not require an expensive resolution. If a tire goes flat or your roof starts to leak you absolutely must deal with it immediately. But both can be patched and re-patched until you have enough to replace them. It may not look cute, and will cost you time, but it's worth it while you're striving towards a larger goal.
Be conscious of who you let into your space. Sometimes the unexpected expenses aren't yours but someone close to you. They may even be genuine emergencies. If this is a persistent issue you may be in a toxic relationship (this can happen with parents, siblings, adult children, intimate partners, or even close friends). Check out the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud or google relationship expert Terri Cole to see if this is you.
Check your internal self. Do you really believe you can get out of debt and have more than enough? It took me years to realize that, although I knew financial freedom existed, deep down I didn't think it would ever happen to me. I had to learn to believe that I deserve wealth, know that it would come to me easily and effortlessly, and that once it did I would appreciate and maximize it. Until I began to truly see myself as having more than enough (which must come before you actually have the money) there was never enough. I had to trust.
Having enough to handle your financial business does have a lot to do with how you manage your money, but it has more to do with how you approach your money, how you consider it in the context of your life. It is not the prize, but rather the tool you use to get the prize. Believe you're meant to have more than enough, take a look at how you're exemplifying that daily, adjust where needed, and you'll be surprised at how fast you'll exceed your financial goals.
And so it is.