Getting into financial trouble can happen to anyone. There are some signs that are obvious, but there are many more that are not. Spotting the signs that hint to underlying troubles can often be difficult. While we all know that we should get out of debt, earn more money and spend less than we make, there are plenty more subtle clues out there that could signal pending financial problems in the future.
I have compiled 24 tell-tale signs that could point to potential financial troubles that may be affecting you now, or could in the future. Each sign starts with an explanation as to how to identify it, and then follows up with some possible courses of action to improve the situation. Along the way, you should use this as a checklist and determine if any of these signs apply to you. It is a lot of information to digest, so bookmark this page so that you can return to it at a later date.
24 Signs That You Could be in Financial Trouble:
1. Little or No Savings: If you do not have enough money set aside to cover at least a few months worth of expenses you are inviting disaster.
2. Lack of a Budget: Navigating through finances without a budget is like driving across the country without a map.
3. Lack of Sufficient Health Insurance: Health care isn’t cheap. One unexpected health issue without proper coverage could ruin your life.
4. Unhealthy Attitudes About Money: The way we think about money has a significant impact on the financial decisions we make.
5. Depending on Parents, Friends or Others to Help You Out: Relying on outside help to pay the bills is not a long-term solution.
6. Lack of Adequately Funding a Retirement Account: Retirement security is your responsibility. Make sure you are in control of your future.
7. Outdated Job Skills, Poor Job Performance, Lack of Job Security: It is important to save and invest wisely but without income none of that would be possible.
8. Getting Turned Down for a Loan: If you have recently applied for a loan or line of credit either through a bank or a credit card company and have been turned down, you probably have a problem.
9. Using Payday Loans: Desperate times call for desperate measures. Avoiding these expensive short-term loans can keep you from going into further financial trouble.
10. Financing a Vehicle for More Than 5 Years: If you need more than 5 years to afford that new vehicle purchase you are only kidding yourself.
11. Consolidating Debt While Still Using Available Credit: Debt consolidation can be a great way to dig your way out of debt, but not if you keep using your available credit.
12. Fighting About Money With Your Spouse or Significant Other: Learning to deal with money together and openly may be one of the most difficult hurdles any couple must overcome.
13. Failing to Participate in Family Financial Decisions: When one person in the family holds the burden of making most of the financial decisions it can lead to more than money problems.
14. Misrepresenting Purchases to Your Spouse: Lying about money is a very dangerous road that can lead to deception in other areas of the relationship.
15. Developing Bad Credit Habits: Using credit isn’t always a bad thing, but when a few bad habits take hold you can find yourself in a lot of trouble.
16. Using Your Credit Card to Pay for Necessities Because You Don’t Have the Cash: Using credit to pay for the basic needs in life is only a short-term band-aid.
17. Paying Only the Minimum on Your Credit Cards: At first glance that minimum payment may make any purchase seem affordable, but it can really cost you in the long run.
18. Using One Credit Card to Make Minimum Payments on Another: This is a bad idea. If you can’t find the money to make a credit card payment, using credit from another card will only compound the problem and cost you more money.
19. Simply Having Too Many Credit Cards: Some say if you have two cards you have one too many. How many cards should you have?
20. Purchasing a Home for the Wrong Reason: Many people will lead you to believe that owning a home is a requirement for financial success. This is not always the case.
21. Putting College Savings Before Your Own Needs: We all want to provide the best for our kids, but sacrificing our own needs can prove costly.
22. Investing Your Money Inappropriately: Even if you are able to save money for retirement and beyond that is only half of the battle.
23. A Lack of Well-defined Goals and a Plan to Reach Them: Goals provide a way to gauge success. Having well-defined goals will help ensure you reach your financial and personal goals in life.
24. Ignoring the Signs: Identifying the signs you have a problem is not enough. You need to take action to try and resolve the problem.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Some great tips have been included in this list. They are all sure signs that financial hardship is on the horizon. Number 11, especially. Consolidating debt while still using available credit can be detrimental to the ultimate goal.
I think a lot of people can relate to this and these signs are really visible this year. Tsk, the recession really causes this trouble. This is the reason that people should decrease their expenses and save for the rainy days.
This is a fantastic list to use as a guideline. Many people ignore the signs of financial distress for different reasons. I feel like you elaborated well on most of those topics.
Very well articulated pointers to know how is one placed on his finances. I would also add these
1. Withdrawing cash on your credit cards.
2. Worrying too much about kid's school fee rise next year.
3. Not able to finance one's medical care.
4. Not able to take any holidays in last 5 years.
I agree, this is an excellent post. I'm definitely guilty of a few of these points - for temporary reasons only, though! At least I have the financial education I need. It's hard to not have some of these when you're still doing an apprenticeship situation like graduate school and you're not on full salary.
You know when you are in serious financial trouble when your colleagues start being made redundant or you are given a three day week. Like the employees at Bentley UK in Crewe in Cheshirewhen they found themselves being told to take 5 weeks holiday at Christmas and seeing other people being made redundant due to lack of orders for new cars. This is shouting look for another job or consider your options!
This is really a great post. I hope that college students will read this to learn how they can avoid a financial crisis once they graduate college and enter the real world.
Paula, thanks for checking in. I should unveil the last one either this weekend or on Monday. Stay tuned!