Do you primarily focus on paying your bills? How many Americans do you think are living paycheck to paycheck? Regrettably, 63% of people are living like this. This statistic shocked me, but then again didn’t. We all know someone who is struggling financially and how finds it impossible to plan for the future as they cannot seem to make their month stretch beyond the month.
Has it ever happened to you? You get your paycheck and it’s already spent? Me too. Being stuck in a cycle of living paycheck to paycheck is downright depressing. It can make us feel that we aren’t ahead and never will be. I really do believe though that no matter what your situation, you can find ways of paying your bills, budget, save, and consistently be moving the needle forward towards financial security and freedom.
One thing that I see all the time that trips people up is this common misconception that the goal of a budget is just paying your bills. Complete financial management and planning are so much more than that. A comprehensive financial plan shouldn’t just include the monthly bills but also things such as saving for the unknown (and the known) expenses, spending money, investments and protecting assets.
Paying your bills may seem like the gremlin on your back, but neglecting to acknowledge and consider everything else will undoubtedly hinder you from ever getting out of the hole or vicious cycle you find yourself in. Have I depressed you enough for one day? Ok. I’m not saying this to bum you out. I find that coming to these tough realizations and truths is the only way to change. Let’s take a look together at why I believe that financial management is not just paying your bills and how we can adjust our mindset and behavior to start taking back control of our finances. Let’s dive in!
Only Focusing on Paying Your Bills Won’t Help You
There are multiple reasons why only focusing on paying your bills as part of your financial management strategy is holding you back. It is also doing you a great disservice. You work too damn hard to be left with feelings of stress, and probably some hopelessness at times. I want to point out to you some of the reasons why you’re stuck in this cycle so that you can break out.
Recognizing Your True Expenses
As touched on, you may find yourself living paycheck to paycheck. With that shocking statistic, it is reasonable to assume that over half of the Americans who read this post are. I see you and I’ve been there. That feeling of being stuck and never moving forward is hard to deal with. I want to take this second to commend you. If you’re reading this, you must know that you deserve more and are actively trying to break out of that cycle.
Now for the tough love. You will never get ahead if you fail to recognize what your true expenses are each month. Paying your bills inevitably looms over you each month so it is pretty reasonable that you’re laser-focused on them. But thinking that your bills ARE your true expenses is exactly why you can’t get ahead. Paying your bills is only a single component of your true expense picture.
Ignoring every other expense that you have, no matter how expected or unexpected those costs are will leave you will very little leftover, if any, at the end of each month. Leading you back into the cycle for yet another month. I know it’s probably super hard to think about setting MORE money aside for anything when you feel like you are barely able to be paying your bills each month but after decades of doing this – I know it’s possible.
Acknowledging and planning for all expenses is the only way to get on top of your finances.
Life Goes Pear-shaped and You Aren’t Prepared
Uncertainty and life go hand-in-hand. We can, and should, hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. I like to think of this as being realistic and not pessimistic. Over the course of your life, your finances are going to go up and down.
A big factor in this is not understanding what you need each month. Again, it’s this avoidance of your true monthly and yearly expenses that is tripping you up. We shouldn’t have to feel blind-sighted all the time with “unexpected” expenses. Because, are they really unexpected? Or have you just not focused on them when planning out your budget or allocating outgoing money each month?
Life will go pear-shaped. It always does. You need to do your utmost to ensure that you stay steady no matter what happens. You don’t need to sleep with one eye open, just be aware and realistic!
How Can You Build Wealth Only Focusing on Bills?
You may have been doing things in one way for so long you can’t see a way out. However, you also may be choosing to remain poor by just focusing on paying your bills. This may sound like a daring statement. However, choosing to focus on just paying the bills and that’s it will never allow you to focus on wealth-building tasks and strategies. And, ultimately, this is what we are striving for.
Are you thinking “ Sarah, I can barely pay bills, I simply cannot do anything else!” I feel you and have felt like that multiple times in my life. However, there is always another way. It is not your only option. When we find ourselves in these dark situations or vicious cycles, we often cannot or will not see a way out. But there always is. I would love to help you get there.
Where Do You Start?
Well, it looks like you’ve already taken the first step but reading this article. Well done you! I started my business because I knew that if financial freedom was possible for me, then it was possible for everyone. So, what do you do next?
Head over to the Bulletproof Blog, you’ll find tons of articles about budgeting, financial freedom, mindset, and more. Here are a couple of must-reads:
Do you want more hands on support? Check out the Bulletproof for Life Program. Discover how to combine behavioral psychology and financial strategy so that you can actually achieve financial freedom effortlessly.