Americans are well known around the world for certain things. One prime thing is our tendency to talk and even brag about our lives and our abundances. We are pretty proud of living in what we refer to as the "greatest country" in the world and we have good reasons to feel that way. If you are a bigtime world traveler, you are probably sending a clear message to everyone you meet: you have lots of money and you enjoy spending it freely. You probably stay at a fine hotel, eat at a fancy restaurant, travel at the height of the season, etc. and that is the message you're sending.
The Art of Braggadocio
Speaking of bragging, we also have great fervor when spreading good news to others, especially our family and neighbors. We make it obvious so they will notice when we drive into our garage with that big new $85,000 2017 Land Rover that's so perfect for those cross country trips and exploring the Gobi Desert, but will more likely spend its time parked at little Debbie's soccer practices every Tuesday and Thursday!
But in spite our willingness to outwardly brag about our lifestyles and even our need to brag, we are all pretty tightlipped when it comes to sharing some hardcore pieces of our finances. These are just certain things that are embarrassing and we don't like to talk about with anyone at all. They may be matters that have caused us to have more than a few sleepless nights. They can even cause disruption in our marital tranquility. Creature comforts are not the "be all, end all" way to insure you a happy life. Overspending and secret spending money issues are frequently a cause for divorce.
3 Shameful Financial Problems
Some of those embarrassing financial issues include:
1. Financial Infidelity
This tightlipped secret is a very common occurrence when two people do not share the intimate details of their incomes and spending habits in an honest way. For some reason, one or both of the partners hide details of their income and spending habits from the other and when that happens, financial problems are bound to develop. It's known as "financial infidelity".
I have known and counseled so many couples at my former job as a financial specialist regarding their secret lives when it comes to earning and spending. It's shocking to think that married couples in particular wouldn't be able to share and work together towards their common goal of financial security, but I am here to tell you it is way more common than you may think.
If you have ever been in this situation you already know that you cannot plan, budget, and control your finances without first having all the pertinent information at hand.
Have you ever lost your job? My guess is that at some time or other you probably have had that unpleasant experience. Job loss is far more frequent today than ever before. There is of course the infamous and dreaded "downsizing" that seems to be ever present in our lives. That can be a reason you are asked to pack up your cardboard box and move along. But, there are also those situations when perhaps you are terminated for cause.
Losing your job can be the most depressing thing that can happen to anyone, especially when it is for some wrongful action or incompetence that is embarrassing or even humiliating. It's frequently a shock, an unexpected event, and something you aren't in any way prepared to deal with and worse, to share with anyone else.
So much of our self-esteem is involved in our job and our feeling of self-worth and value is directly tied to it. In addition to the financial problems that a loss of income immediately causes, there are thoughts of how and what you will do to get back into the job market and "fix" your situation.
The likelihood that you will not talk about your firing and its surrounding circumstances will hinder you. Networking is a first line of attack when it comes to getting another job offer, but your fears of embarrassment can prevent you from getting to that point.
3. Credit Card Crush
That plastic card you carry in your wallet or purse can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. When you have crushing credit card debt, it feels like having an incurable disease and you probably feel as if it may be terminal. It can be even worse if you are keeping it a secret from loved ones and family. The first step to reversing the problem is to admit you have a problem and then to plan your new debt solving strategy. You will need some help with that process. Keeping it all to yourself and wishing it away will never work.
How to Prepare for Financial Roadblocks
With all the potential problems we face in our lives, the least successful ways to overcome your most difficult financial problems is to try and do it alone. Whether you depend on a life partner, a friend, a relative, or a professional to lean on and confide in, you must get some outside help to solve your issue. The best strategy to avoid financial roadblocks is to make a prevention plan. The list is simple and works. It includes:
Communicate and share your financial information with the person(s) who share your finances so that you know your limitations and then track your progress before any problems develop
Think frugally, and find ways to save your money – frugality isn't a dirty word
While our finances tend to be confidential information, some secrets aren't worth keeping. If you're having a financial problem that's tough to deal with, letting your family and friends provide encouragement and help will get you further than keeping it to yourself. Don't let the braggadocio get the better of you!
Have you a secret financial problem that you are afraid to talk about? Do you share all of your finances with your significant other or family? What experience have you had that involved a major roadblock in your financial life and how did you overcome it?
31 easy money hacks to help you get richer every single day this month
31 easy money hacks to help you get richer every single day this month
1. List at least one item you aren't using on Craigslist or eBay.
Not only will this help you clear out clutter, but it will turn an unwanted item into cash. If you get inspired and want to sell more, check out this Lifehacker guide to turning unwanted junk into cash.
REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo
2. Pack your lunch instead of buying it.
Time calculated how much someone in New York could save by bringing a brown bag lunch ($3) versus buying lunch ($15). At that rate of savings, if you packed lunch instead of buying it every day for a decade, you'd save $31,200. Calculate how much you would save using this Bankrate tool.
(KatarzynaBialasiewicz via Getty Images)
3. Change out at least one incandescent bulb to a CFL.
According to Consumer Reports: "By replacing a 60-watt incandescent bulb — the most common household bulb — with a spiral-type 13-watt CFL that produces an equivalent amount of light, you could save more than $57 over the life of the CFL."
(Jose Luis Pelaez)
4. Program your thermostat to turn off while you are at work or sleeping.
According to Energy.gov, "You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting."
5. Delete your stored credit cards from online accounts.
Have your credit card stored to make one-click purchases? If you instead have to manually enter your card each time, you make buying online more of a hassle, which will limit impulse purchases.
(Shutterstock / Vladimir Gerasimov)
6. Eat meatless.
Many people have adopted Meatless Mondays to help save money and the planet. Start this Monday and see if you can make it a habit.
7. Buy a re-usable water bottle.
Consumer Reports calculates that bottled water costs $346 a year, while tap water costs just $0.48. If you are using bottled water, stop now and start refilling a water bottle instead.
A Planet Money report found that half of all members of one popular gym never go — and theWashington Post reports the gym industry actually relies on members paying for, but never using, the service. Don't let money be auto-debited monthly for anything you don't actively use. Call now to cancel, and read Mic's guide to getting fit for free.
(guvendemir via Getty Images)
11. Make sure you are using the right bank.
Check out what unnecessary fees you pay for ATM use and for maintaining a monthly account. If you're paying anything, it may be time to switch to a different bank: Check out Mic's guide to some of the best banks to use in 2016 to 2017 and see how your bank compares. If your bank falls short, make the switch.
12. Open an IRA, if you don't already have one. If you do, check on your investment mix.
An IRA is one of the best ways to save for retirement because you can potentially get tax breaks for investing in it. Check out this 5-minute guide to retirement savings to find out more and follow this simple step-by-step primer on opening one. If you already have an IRA, use an asset allocation calculator to see if you have the right mix of investments.
(c-George via Getty Images)
13. Create (or review) your budget.
Read up on the basics of how to budget so you can determine the steps you need to take to get a handle on where your money is going. You can also use recommended budgeting apps to make the process easier.
(cnythzl via Getty Images)
14. Make sure you are using the right credit card.
Figuring out the best credit card for you is a matter of looking at your usage and needs. If you carry a balance, it's time to shop for a low APR card with a 0% balance transfer. But if you are a responsible card user, aim for a card with big cash-back perks or rewards.
(alice-photo via Getty Images)
15. Clean out the air filters in your car.
Pro Car Mechanics explains: "The benefits of a clean air filter are almost immediate. Airflow goes back to the proper level to mix with the gasoline. It has been estimated that replacing the dirty air filter will increase MPG on the car up to 10% and also generate a fuel savings of close $.15 per gallon at the fuel pump." Cars Direct explains how you can clean out your car's air filter.
16. Review your debts and make sure your repayment approach is optimized.
If you owe money on credit cards or loans, review the interest rates, terms and repayment strategy. If you have high interest debt, refinancing could make sense.Think through your debt repayment strategy and evaluate whether you can or should make extra payments.
(BernardaSv via Getty Images)
17. Call your cell phone and cable companies.
Go over your monthly plans to find out if you are paying for services you don't need. Ask for any discounts that could potentially help you to spend less. Check out these tips for saving money on cable TV.
Learn to let out pants, tailor your own skirts, change the oil in your car or fix a stopped up sink. Wisebread has a list of 10 life skills to learn to save money.
(AndreyPopov via Getty Images)
20. Call your insurance agent.
If you have car insurance, homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance, you may be able to lower your deductible, bundle your policies or get rid of coverage you no longer need. Investopedia lists 6 ways to save on insurance.
(mediaphotos via Getty Images)
21. Print, cut, or buy coupons.
Using coupons can help you save on groceries, dining out and other items you buy. Browse sites like RetailMeNot for printable coupons or use TheCouponClippers to purchase cut coupons from the newspaper. Focus on items you are going to buy anyway. You might also visit websites like DealSeekingMom to find out how to get items like toothpaste and toilet paper for free — or close to free.
(kreinick via Getty Images)
22. Unsubscribe from daily deal sites or online websites.
If you are subscribed to a bunch of sites that alert you to sales and bargains, you are more likely to spend on items you don't need. Buy stuff when you decide you need it, not when an online newsletter tells you the item is on sale.
(PeopleImages via Getty Images)
23. Go for a walk instead of watching TV.
You won't waste the electricity on running the TV — and you won't see ads shilling for products. Plus, walking is a healthy and free way to get exercise.
24. Plan a weekend of free events.
Make a commitment to not spend any money this weekend. Look for free community events to attend — or invite your friends over for a potluck or clothing swap party.
25. Plan your meals for the week.
Meal planning allows you to avoid wasting food since you can make a grocery list and buy only what you need. Lifehacker has a simple guide to meal planning and you can check out Mic's tips for healthy eating on a budget.
26. Cook and store food strategically.
Following your meal plan, make up a few meals you'll eat over the course of the week. You can even make some extra to freeze for when you're in a rush and don't have time to cook or pack a lunch a few days later: Just portion out food in little freezer bags so it'll be easy to thaw individual meals.
(Gilles_Paire via Getty Images)
27. Have a no-spend day today.
Make a commitment not to spend even $1 on anything for one whole day. Prep your coffee at home, bring your lunch, bike to work, and eat one of your pre-planned, home-cooked meals for dinner.
28. Automate all of your bill paying ... and saving.
If you are still manually paying your bills each month, set up automation for any accounts you can. This helps you avoid late fees if you get busy or forget. If you have a savings account, set up an automated transfer of at least a few dollars per month so you can make sure you are saving something.
(Rawpixel via Getty Images)
29. Find a cheaper way to commute today.
If you normally Uber, try taking public transportation. If you normally take public transportation, walk or bike to work. If you drive, see if you can arrange a carpool or switch to the bus. Your commute can cost you thousands over your working life.
30. Call HR and ask about workplace benefits.
You should definitely be investing in a 401(k) if your employer offers one. However, you may be eligible for other benefits like corporate discounts on cell phone service or hotel rooms. Find out what benefits are available that you can use to save — you might be surprised (see: "cash in lieu").
(DNY59 via Getty Images)
31. Carry around healthy snacks bought in bulk.
It's not just meals that are a money suck, and hitting the vending machine can add up. Buy some dried fruit, granola bars or trail mix in bulk — and then bag it up into snack-sized portions to help your wallet and your waistline.