The #1 Thing to Do if You Don’t Make Enough

January 16, 2023

So what if you don't make enough money to cover your expenses?

Clients often come to me feeling overwhelmed and saying that they don’t make enough or have enough money to pay for their present life, much less their future life.*

They find themselves always withdrawing money from savings or putting things on the credit card to keep life humming along.

Has this ever been you? It sure was me!

You may not be making what you would like or are worth. And are working on getting your income up. Great!

You may make great money, but often with great money comes great spending :-)

You may periodically pay off your credit cards, but money perpetually feels tight. Stressful. Not fun.

Can you relate to any of the following symptoms?

  • You may feel perpetually stressed over money and have that surfacing in your relationships. It’s really hard to separate money from the rest of life, so stress about money casts a really long shadow.
  • You may find yourself thinking constantly about money and how to get more of it. Not in an exciting way, but an anxious sort of way. Scarcity mentality just feels lousy.
  • You may even be trying to make more money to make up the difference. This is awesome! But when it is fueled by a feeling of not-enough, it’s a bit like putting soda in your gas tank. I actually have no idea what that will do to your car, but I doubt it’d be good for it!
  • You might feel guilty over your spending even on practical things like groceries and toilet paper. 
  • You often rationalize your spending, to yourself and others.
  • You experience a lot of emergencies. This is due to turning a blind eye to costs that aren’t part of your routine monthly picture and then being surprised when they crop up. These are the not-fun surprises of life.
  • You may try to cut back where possible and it still never seems to be enough.

The real problem

The crux of the problem is that you don’t know exactly the scope of your money “problem.” And a problem that isn’t clearly defined is a really tricky problem to solve. 

Are you short $400 per month? Or $1400 per month? There’s a big difference between the two. 

A bonus problem (if there's such a thing): The second problem is that you are reinforcing—as in holding up and supporting and strengthening—the supposed reality that you don’t have enough money.

You’re feeding a really unhelpful mental wolf and letting it roam freely. You're making it less likely you're going to get opposite and happier results.

Enough of defining the problem, though! Let’s get to talking about the solution.

The solution

The solution is quite simple, really. It is to figure out how much you are short by. Put a number on how much is "not enough."

Calculate the size of the gap between your average monthly spending and your income. Be sure to include your annual and occasional expenses, divided by 12 to get their monthly impact.

Determining what your gap is is like drawing a boundary on your problem so it can't take on a life of its own. If you know how big or small it is, it can't appear bigger than it really is.

Note: This is one of the assessments I guide you through in The Budget Tune-Up mini course. The course is a powerful opportunity to look into the mirror figuratively, and assess what's working and not working in your approach to money. I highly recommend it!

I use the phrase “deal with real” often. Because once you surface and accept the facts of your present situation, you can do something about it. Until then, you circle around the problem and therefore circle around the solution.

If you know you are short $580 per month, you have a specific deficit to make up.

You trim spending by $100 here, $50 there, decide to cut back on eating out and save an additional $150.

You realize you've been spending like the Queen of England at the grocery store.

With a little planning you figure you could save $180 on groceries and still eat very well. You decide to cancel the $100 massage membership that was getting cumbersome to utilize anyway, and...voila! You are suddenly and realistically living within your means.

Until then, it’s making cuts just to make cuts since you never know when you’ve made enough cuts. You haven't had a target, a goal. But now you do, and watch out, World.

There's a confidence that only comes from living within your means, or at least living within your planned spending. And I want that feeling of confidence for you.

Do you want this confidence for yourself? Get in touch to see how I can help you.

*A note: sometimes clients come to me simply feeling that they don’t make enough money. But as we work together, it becomes perfectly clear that they do in fact make enough. Their money system has just messy enough for it all to feel tight and for them to feel perpetually reactive. This is a critical realization and I'd love to help you make it!  Get in touch.

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