#FinancialFridays: It’s not you & you’re not alone

It’s not you.

I use to scour those “top ten ways to save money” type lists. You know, the ones that tend to come out in January when we’re all making “resolutions” to change our lives.

Do these 10 things to save $5000 a year” they would claim.

I would eagerly sit and read, desperate to make changes that would give me room to breathe in my single-parent budget, or even more dream-worthy: plan a vacation.

But despair would appear, by maybe #3, or I may even have gotten to #5 still hopeful.

See the thing is, I was already doing those things or had never actually done the things that I was to stop doing.

Give up that $ 10-a-day coffee habit: 260 work days times $10 a coffee is a savings of $2600!! I didn’t drink $10 a day coffees, no corporation is making money from my black dark roast choices.

Thrift store your work clothes and save $500 a year. I love thrifting and have had some great thrift store finds over the years, but that wasn’t going to save me anything as I already was doing that.

Eat out only once a week! Once a month I’d get a hot meal from the hot deli at the grocery store as a treat. That didn’t work either.

Pay off your credit card or outstanding debts! I’ll get right on that, except I didn’t have a credit card to pay off to save the money that I wasn’t paying on the credit card.

Quit smoking! One of my favourites! Can’t quit what you don’t do!

Cut your own hair! Have you seen my hair? Haven’t had a haircut since 2019, but I do cut my bangs.

My absolute favourite “save money tip”????: Carry a balance of $10 000 in the bank and you get free banking!!!

So what to do?

So was venting my financial failures to a friend who was a financial planner. He said, “write it all down”. So I did. I was honest with myself and thought it was time to stare my error-ridden ways in the face and make some changes.

My friend reviewed it for me, and said “only twice have I seen a budget where the in equals the out – yours is the second”.

I was dumbfounded and confused. I begged him to show me where I was messing up, where I was selfish, where I was making poor decisions, but it wasn’t there.

So when I tell you…it’s not you…it’s not you.

It’s been 18 years since that conversation, the children have grown and my career has taken off. I still don’t drink $10 coffees, and I still thrift a lot of my clothes but I can plan a low-key vacation at least once a year.

So when you sit down and take that hard look at your money, that empty bank account, it’s not you.

Trust me…It. Is. Not. You.

Life is expensive. Rent is expensive. Food is expensive. Recreation is expensive. Gas is expensive.

The minimum wage isn’t cutting it. Living wage isn’t cutting it if we were honest. Those on Ontario Works, those with disabilities, seniors…the money is just not there.

If you want to confirm, what you already know, reach out to our Financial Literacy Program. Carolyn can walk through your budget and help you understand what’s real, what’s achievable, and what help is out there. You can reach Caroline at 519-378-4773 or advice@unitedwaybg.com

She can also highlight various community programs that can help.

The most important takeaway today, is you are not alone in this.

My top 10 list for helping you survive this:

  1. Are you using every community support program out there? Click here
  2. Are you getting the OESP if you pay for electricity?  Click here
  3. Are you accessing every free food program out there? Click here
  4. Are you on the list for affordable housing? Click here
  5. Are you ready to file your taxes? Click here
  6. Are you visiting free community take-out or sit-down meals that are out there? Click here
  7. Are you using your local Good Food Box? Click here
  8. Are you safely using free community groups to exchange goods? Click here
  9. Are you involved with your local library?: free books, movies, help with technology, wifi, etc Click here
  10. Are you reading our Financial Fridays blog for more tips? Click here

So make a cuppa tea, remind yourself, you are doing your best, and reach out for help, when you think you need it, not when you actually need it (ok reach out then too, but it’s always easier to chat when it’s not an emergency).