The National Foundation for Credit Counseling recently polled approximately 2,220 respondents to figure out what their greatest financial regrets were. Fifty-three percent of the respondents indicated that overspending was their greatest regrets. The other choices were: inadequate savings (18%), haven't bought a house (10%), bought a house( 5%), or haven't sufficiently prepared for retirement (14%).
But how accurate is this and should we look at these numbers with a grain of salt? Let's try to look at this holistically. When you're polling consumers who are buried in debt, it's simple to blame overspending as the preliminary cause. It's elementary math. If you spend more than you earn, you'll end up in debt.
I'm a firm believer that pinpointing the root of the problem is just as important as getting out of debt. Without fixing the problem, you'll simply become a repeat offender.
Let's dig into this a little deeper. If you've ever been in debt, did you ever think that you'd be overspending and accumulate more debt than you can handle? Of course not. The preliminary cause of being in debt isn't really about overspending; it's a combination of not having an emergency savings fund, trying to live a lavish lifestyle, and not keeping up with a monthly budget.
Life comes with twists and turns. We can all agree to this and this is why having an emergency savings fund is so important. If your car breaks down or you need a major home improvement, adding this expense onto your credit card will make you fall deeper into credit card debt. A recent report from Assets and Opportunity shows that 27% of all households don't have enough savings for just three months in case of an emergency setback.
So why is this? It's a combination of not having a budget and not allocating a portion of their paycheck towards savings. The key to budgeting is making a realistic budget without taking out all the luxuries in life. Being too strict on yourself will only cause agony and lead to a more stressful life. After all, a budget is useless if you're not going to stick to it right?
Dominque Brown from YourFinancesSimplified explains why people fail at budgeting, "When people budget, they tend to take out all the things that make them feel good and then, they rebel!"
And now this comes to our last point: people who tend to live a lavish lifestyle. Here's the deal. You'll have plenty of chances in life to buy all the things you want, but the truth of the matter is that you'll always be burdened with debt if you keep this up. As an entrepreneur myself, I had to give up all the luxuries in life to reach my goals. One step back and two steps forward is my motto.
Being in debt isn't just about overspending; it's a combination of not having an emergency savings fund, not budgeting, and trying to live the life of a rockstar. You'll have plenty of opportunities to do everything you want in life, but the first step is to get your finances organized!