I once dated a woman who had seemingly no financial literacy. She had a decent job, but at the end of the month, all her money was gone. Part of it was due to her downright absurd habit of going on an online shopping spree when there was “too much money” in her bank account, as she phrased it. Her existence was, and most certainly still
While I am glad that that woman is no longer part of my life, I can’t help but think that the kind of financial problems some people experience are, for the very most part, their own fault. They would be so easy to fix, though. The following only works for people with a modicum of impulse control, but this is how I would do it:
First, you sum up what you make in a month. Maybe it’s just your salary, but there could be additional sources of income. From that, you pay what you need to pay: your rent, phone bill, groceries, and so on. If you are already in the hole afterwards, you have serious problems because you live well above your means. I’d say you should not spend more than around 60% of your after-tax income on the necessities of life. Of the remainder, feel free to waste 20% if it makes you feel better, but put away at least 20%.
I find it almost inconceivable to not be able to sock away some money every month. However, the mere idea of blowing money frivolously is anathema to me. Yet, I have seen so many reckless financial decisions made by family members, friends, and girlfriends that I can only shake my head. The mere idea of downsizing seems to be almost an insult to them. What is worse is when people build an ego around a lifestyle the cannot afford. If you question them, or make suggestions when they lament that they have a hard time getting by, however, you can easily become the target of their anger.
I don’t think I miss anything. To give you one simple example: let’s take a guy in a place like Berlin who has a job that does not pay particularly well. His after-tax income is around 1400 Euros. This is not a lot, but it is
Now the objection is that such an income would not be enough for certain fancy hobbies, a nice car, or an apartment in the most attractive parts of the city. Yes, exactly, and that is the point! If you can’t afford something, then don’t even bother. Plenty of guys spend far too much on a car. Someone in my family, for instance, had to have a Mercedes-Benz in his early 20s. He got it. It wiped out almost all his savings and the car only got less valuable throughout the years. He would have been a lot better off just leaving the money in his savings acco
Then there is “partying”. If you think blowing 20% of your monthly income on booze is a great idea, you are in good company. You can easily find people who spend more on alcohol than on their rent and who think nothing of it. Yet, some restraint in that regard would go a long way stretching their money.
What women spend their money on is often downright frivolous. The woman mentioned above not only had a wardrobe that could barely fit her clothes. She also had shelves full of makeup. Well, some women need to wear makeup to look appealing. Others use little to none and it’s fine because their healthy lifestyle makes their skin look great. Thus, that is another area where a lot of money can be saved. It’s as simple as better nutrition, which is cheaper than readymade inferior food anyway, leads to better health, which helps you save money in many ways.
There is the misconception that men tend to compete with each other on consumption. While you can find men who need to have a bigger car than their friends, my impression is that women are a lot more susceptible to that kind of competition. Certainly, the number of women with Apple laptops who do little more with them than use Facebook and Instagram is far higher than the corresponding number of men who buy expensive laptops just to show them off. Phones are just as bad. People lament about the cost of an iPhone, yet they are unwilling to get a cheaper phone that would work just as well. It would not impress any of their friends, who likewise live well above their means.
Now that I’m no longer actively dating and my interest in socializing is at an all-time low, my exposure to that kind of person is thankfully zero. Yet, whenever I heard someone complain about something being “so expensive” I was not sure whether I should laugh or cry. If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. Don’t buy it, and get over it. More often than not, though, the issue was that those people just spent their money like drunken sailors, not keeping track of how expenses add up.
The bottom line is that absolutely nobody would have to have financial problems. All it takes is a modicum of planning. All the usual complaints are centered around expenses that can be controlled. If you can’t afford your apartment or car, then downsize. Oh, and don’t get me started on the cost of having children: they are not that expensive
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