If you have been struggling with debt for any amount of time, I’m sure you have read how “easy” it is to get out of debt by budgeting and cutting your spending. If you control your spending, all your debt problems will be fixed, right? Maybe yes, maybe no.
From my time working with people who are struggling with debt, I would say most people have money management, budgeting, and spending problems. However, a core group of people has cut everything out of their budget and still can’t make ends meet.
For instance, if you have $150,000 in student loan debt and only make $35,000 a year – no amount of cutting or budgeting is going to get you out of debt in the near or even distant future. There comes the point when cutting your spending is not going to fix the problem.
Your Income Is As Important As Your Budget
If you are struggling with debt, there is no way around the need to use an effective monthly budget. I have written several articles about how to effectively budget, and I have created a free budget printable to assist with this process.
If you have created your budget and eliminated your wants, you may find there is not enough money at the end of the month for your needs. If this is the case, it may be time to shift your focus from cutting to creating more income.
Depending on the amount of debt you have, your problem may be fixed with a side hustle. Check out my related article: 6 Reasons Why You Need A Side Hustle. However, if your debt issue requires more of a long-term income increase, you may need to focus on your primary source of income.
Are You In A Dead End Job?
I define a dead-end job as one that does not allow for any more advancement or future increased income. If you have climbed up the ladder as high as you can go, but your income is still not enough to live off of – you might be in a dead-end job.
If you currently are in a dead-end job, you more than likely already know it. The problem is you may have become comfortable and are afraid of change. I have several friends in this position. They have highly sought-after skill sets but have settled on entry-level positions because they are afraid of change and the possibility of rejection.
One friend of mine is working in an entry-level job as a supervisor. He oversees four employees, but his main problem is his income. He makes slightly more than minimum wage. While he doesn’t love or hate his job, he has worked for this company for a few years and is comfortable.
He knows his job, and he does it well. Unfortunately, his education and intellect are not being used on a daily basis, and he is not challenged.
Not only is he making slightly over minimum wage, but he is capable of so much more. He is an intelligent guy who fears rejection and change. Perhaps I am talking about you?
Are You Where You Want To Be?
If you are in your dream job and are challenged on a daily basis, I want to congratulate you! This life is too short to be working a job you hate. The fact that you have found your passion and mission in life is excellent. If you are struggling with a lack of income, I suggest a couple of options.
First, look to see if you can add a side hustle to get out of debt and add some much-needed income. A side hustle could be a part-time job to supplement your current income or a hobby [turned side business] that you can do in your off time. Depending on what route you choose, you could add a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars a month to your income.
I generally do not look at side hustles as long-term solutions. Eventually, you will burn out and become frustrated with the time you spend away from home. If a side hustle will not offer you a permanent fix, it may be time to reevaluate your career choice.
Remember Your Dreams
Think back to when you were younger. What you want to be when you grow up was a common question. This was back when you allowed yourself to hope and dream. For some reason, as we get older, we stop allowing ourselves to hope and dream as we did when we were children. “Reality” sets in, and we are bound to live the life we find ourselves stuck in.
Unfortunately, our reality may be a lie we have told ourselves. Why can’t you make more money doing what you love? To make more money while staying in the same career, you need to find a way to add value to others.
If you can come up with a way to add additional value to people’s lives, there’s a good chance your income will increase. It will either increase directly through your career choice, or it can sprout into something else on the side. Either way, increasing income is directly tied to bringing value to others.
If you are not in love with your current career choice, go back to your dreams. Stop making excuses and lying to yourself about why you will never get that job. Stop forcing yourself to believe that you’re too old to get that degree or certification.
In fact, this reminds me of my grandmother, who obtained her RN when she was in her 50s’! It wasn’t too late for her, and it’s not too late for you.
You Are Your Biggest Critic
While other things outside your control may make it more difficult for you to increase your income or be successful, you are your biggest detractor. Take this graphic, for example:
Where do you spend the majority of your time? There are three major areas of your life.
Your Area Of Control
- This is the area of your life that you can directly change and take control over.
- Your thoughts, actions, and reactions to situations.
Your Area Of Influence
- This is the part of your life where you can have an impact, but you are not directly in control.
- For instance, you can influence family members but can not control them. You can influence your health and your career by working out and doing a good job at work.
- Ultimately though, things in your area of influence are not directly controlled by you. You could get sick or lose your job no matter how hard your work or how well you eat.
Your Area Of Concern
- These are things that can influence your life, but you can not directly influence them. Many people spend the majority of their energy in this area!
- Politics, the economy, and the weather all fall into this category.
- Don’t waste all your time and energy worrying about your area of concern!
Where Is Your Focus
If you spend the majority of your time and energy worrying about the economy, politics, or the weather, you will quickly find yourself going nowhere and wasting energy.
Unfortunately, many people spend a great deal of time and energy in this area.
In order to take control of your life, start with the inner circle and master the parts of your life that you actually can control. Use your time and energy on your thoughts, actions, and reactions, and you will have more success in your area of influence.
You can also ensure that you’re focusing on the right things in life too. Looking at people that are where you want to be and making the money that you want, looking online for the right source for this, too, can help you. Then you can feel inspired that it’s possible and mirror your actions to reflect this.
Change Your Focus And Change Your Career Path
When you realize that you are in control of only yourself, you can begin to transition away from the fear and anxiety that comes with change. Focus on your talents and abilities to motivate yourself in order to make the necessary change to increase your income.
I’m not telling you to quit your job and go find another career – that would be foolish. I’m telling you to put yourself in a position where you can transition out of your current job and into the career you have dreamed of in order to increase your income.
Set yourself up with the career you should have pursued in the first place before you quit your current one.
Do You Have A Debt Or An Income Problem – Or Both?
I encourage you to take some time to reflect on your current situation. Are you in debt because you have a spending problem, or are you in debt because you simply do not make enough money? Keep in mind if you have a spending problem, no realistic amount of income will fix it.
You will find a way to spend more than you make no matter how much money you make.
It’s important to identify which debt camp you fall into so you can determine how to fix it. Focus on what you can control and start making some decisions that will change your future!