Money is amazing!
I mean, it must be right? Think about all the things people are willing to do just to earn a buck (and I’m not talking about anything crazy, drastic, or illegal). I’m talking about the crap EVERYBODY does just so we can earn a few bucks.
We’re willing to endure long commutes and sit in traffic jams five days a week, morning and evening for money. We willingly leave our loved ones behind and spend the majority of our waking hours with coworkers and strangers, many whom we don’t even care all that much for. We dedicate the very best years of our lives to our jobs, which is the source of our money. In this life all we have is time, and we all seem to be more than willing to trade that time for money.
Like I said, money must be freaking amazing if we’re will to give up so much just so that we can get our hands on a bit of the stuff when payday rolls around.
PAYDAY – BUT FOR WHO?
Payday. The day every worker loves because it’s finally time to claim our prize – the money we’ve been sacrificing so much for. Only we don’t actually get to claim all of our money. Well, we get to claim a small percentage of that money anyway. After all, if you’re like most people, you have very little disposable income.
Disposable income is what’s left after all of your bills and other financial obligations have been met. It’s your fun money.
What you earn is far different than what you get to keep. Long before you ever get your hands on your money, several other people have already had their hands in your wallet. Where exactly does your money go, and who is taking it? Here are a few examples of where a percentage of your paycheck goes:
- Federal taxes (In 2017, between 10% -39.6% of your paycheck will go to Uncle Sam)
- State taxes (Depending on which state you live in, another 0% – 13.3% of your paycheck goes to state taxes)
- Social Security (6.2% paid by you + another 6.2% paid by your employer)
- Medicare (1.4% paid by you + another 1.4% paid by your employer)
- Healthcare (varies, but health care costs are on the rise for almost everyone)
- Mortgage or rent (plus insurance; maintenance)
- Transportation (a car payment or two; insurance; gasoline; repairs; parking)
- Student loans
- Credit card (or cards)
- Recurring obligations (Cell phone bill; Satellite or cable TV; Sirius radio; Internet; Gym membership; Netflix; Amazon Prime)
So that’s where your money is most likely going. There are still other potential hands grabbing for your money as well (alimony, child support, back taxes, fines, fees – this list seems to be endless). It sucks, but once everyone has gotten their greedy little hands out of your bank account, and after you’ve paid for all of your other monthly obligations, it’s finally time to spend your dough – right after you pay for groceries, filled up the gas tanks in your cars, refilled your prescription, and paid for whatever other unexpected expenses have popped up.
What’s left can be depressingly small compared to what you actually earned. If you’re like most people, and statistically speaking you probably are, only a very tiny fraction of your hard-earned paycheck remains for you to “play” with.
To make things ever more difficult, many companies, even your financial institutions, are taking your money by way of fees, interest rate, and expense ratios. Check out this list that Apathy Ends put together to see who else is stealing your money.
You’ve essentially given control of your life to your financial commitments and to your debt. Debt is:
- The great wealth killer.
- An anchor on your future.
- The thing keeping you enslaved.
- The large denominator that ensures you need an even larger numerator to be financially independent.
- What makes it hard to Get Rich Quick’ish.
- Simultaneously halting your financial progress while also pushing your finish line further and further out each day.
In short: Debt is bad and it should be eliminated and avoided.
KEEP THE MONEY YOU MAKE
You sacrifice so much to earn money, but through debt the other financial obligations that you’ve signed up for, you’ve given up control of the very thing you’re sacrificing for.
That’s heartbreaking and it needs to stop. Imagine for just one second that instead of going to work so that others could have your money, you got to keep all of it for yourself instead?
How quickly would your financial situation change if you were able to keep all of the money you made? Can you even imagine how awesome that would be?! I hope so, because that feeling of awesomeness needs to light a fire in your belly.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR FINANCES
If you’re sick and tired of being broke as a joke, then use that to throw fuel on your fire! If you can’t wait to quit a job you hate but can’t because you need that paycheck, then let that fuel your fire as well. In fact, take all of your financial frustrations and toss ’em on that fire that’s starting to smolder in your gut!
If you’re feeling the burn and are ready to get started, here’s how to start turning your financial situation around within the hour:
- Starting this very second, commit to never again spending more money than you make.
- Ever. You’re done!
- Translation: no more debt.
- Starting today, track every single penny you spend.
- It’s not hard and doesn’t take long with free online tools like Mint.
- Personal Capital connects to your bank accounts and tracks your spending for you. It’s takes 15 minutes to set up, is 100% free, and instantly gives you a historical record of your spending so that you can see where your money goes. You’ll be surprised at where it’s going – I know I was.
- Starting this month, trim the fat.
- Once you’ve tracked your spending you’ll find areas where you can cut back. Most people spend the biggest percentages of their income on housing, food, and transportation. Look there first for your biggest opportunities.
- Need more ideas for saving?
- Here’s a huge list of other money saving ideas.
- He’s a post on how I saved over $8,000 by getting rid of my second car (I’ve got a wife and 4 kids, we live in the burbs, I travel to the city for work – if I can get rid of my second car, you probably can as well).
Once you commit to spending less than you earn, your debt will stop growing and you can begin to attack your finances. If you’re not sure where to get started I’ve got some great news for you: it doesn’t matter WHERE you start. What matters is that you start.
That’s it. It’s easy to say but harder to do. If you really want to keep the money you make, this is how you do it:
- Spend less than you make
- Eliminate then avoid debt
Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to take the next financial step, which is to grow you wealth, but first you’ll need to have a solid financial foundation from which to build. You’ll have that solid foundation once you’re able to keep the money you make.
What would you do if you got to keep all of your money? How would your life change? Leave a comment and let me know.