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Is Money Killing Us?

Is Money Killing Us?

Sitting down at my desk today, all was doom and gloom. I find out that my childhood hero, Robin Williams, had committed suicide. I then read on to find out yet another lady had hung herself in a festival toilet, then, finally, one story that really struck me as most disturbing, a lady taking her own life because of financial pressures.

Here we have two very different ends of the spectrum. On the one hand we have Robin Williams, estimated net worth of US$50,000,000, then on the other hand, a lady who lived in a three-bedroom house in the UK who couldn’t cope and took her own life after government changes in her benefits meant she lost £20 per week (US$33).

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These stories left me totally dumbfounded and provoked me to thinking about how money, no matter how much or how little you have, essentially can either make or fundamentally break people.

Money can’t buy happiness.

Robin Williams, although rich he was, had suffered with depression for many years, adding a truthful tone to the statement, “Money can’t buy happiness.” Yet a feeling seems to resonate of, “But it can save someone from taking their own life if they are in financial turmoil.”

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As the economy struggles to revive and as jobs become sparser, how many more of these incidents are we going to see? I myself feel privileged to be that ‘middle class’ citizen, with the luck of being able to afford some nice things here and there – luxury items, things I probably don’t (in fact, definitely don’t) need. Yet today, I really can’t help but think about people who are less fortunate, people actually willing to take their own life because of financial difficulty.

$17 trillion in debt and, it’s still growing.

I know it’s not a new concept, people have taken their lives over financial troubles numerous times in the past, but then the question to ponder would be, is it going to get worse? Let’s turn our attention to the US economy, which currently has debts of over $17 trillion dollars. That number, to me, is incomprehensible and probably is to many others. I’ll put that into context: if the US were to pay back a dollar per second, their debt would take 184,000 years to pay off – and the scary thing is it’s growing and it’s not slowing down.

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Job hunting is becoming futile.

This has meant though, that the ‘good’ jobs are now being moved overseas, meaning that Americans are fighting for jobs and the same can be said for the UK. The impact of the ‘good’ jobs being outsourced overseas, of course, is that the ever increasing costs and overheads for the average American and Brit are becoming more and more daunting because the jobs aren’t there. So could this mean we see a dramatically increased rate of ‘financial crisis suicides’?

Alarming statistics not ringing a bell?

The answer to my question, horrifyingly, is yes, we will see an increased rate. In fact, it’s already happened. After a little research I had found that during the recession from 2008–2010, 10,000 people took their own lives in Europe and North America. Research published by the British Journal of Psychiatry shows that suicide rates rose significantly after the 2007 financial crash. Suicide rates that have been financially motivated have risen 6.5% in Europe and 4.5% in America, which is just a colossal increase if you do the number crunching.

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With job loss, home repossessions and generalized debt, shouldn’t we be looking at more effective programs for people in financial turmoil? In the UK, even prescriptions of anti-depressant drugs soared by 19% during the period of 2007–2010; again, an exponential rise that should have sent off huge alarm bells to the big bods in the government.

I have searched for programs that can help and they are genuinely few and far between. Those that have used some type of program have reviewed them as being ‘a way to fob them off.’ Definitely not the answer to ease the ever increasing number of financially motivated suicides.

The reality is …

Sadly, the answer to the title of this article is yes, money is killing us, and the worst and most thought-provoking of it all is that it is getting worse. Maybe it’s time we acknowledged this fact and started physically giving people the guidance they desperately need to get their lives back on track. We can’t magic jobs out of thin air, but we can definitely lend a helping hand to those who evidently need us.

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Published on November 20, 2018

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

Stop manually tracking your spending.

Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

  1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
  2. Only buy nice things after saving
  3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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