Alright, don’t get all offended. You should be semi-proud if your go to party trick is juggling. People will be impressed for the first 10 seconds at least. But juggling your financial life like a pro isn’t a thing. Because financial pros don’t juggle.
Our financial lives are messy. We all have warts. It’s okay to have things you struggle with, areas you have to always put in the extra effort to get through. But what is inexcusable is when you constantly create your own problems, patch them up, and then pat yourself on the back for “fixing”. This is no accomplishment to be proud of.
“I met a gentleman last week who had become an expert financial juggler. I don’t quite know how, despite seeing his numbers, but 95% of his income went to debt obligations. His obligations included a mortgage, an equity line, three cars, two personal debts, six store credit cards, and three major credit cards. I can’t say I panicked upon hearing his story, but I did instantly realize that my antiperspirant was inadequate at best and criminally misleading at worst.
The guy? He wasn’t phased. He was as cool as ice.
‘It’s how I do things. I’ve done this for 10 years. My tax refund and year-end bonus fix my financial problems, every year.’ Um, no they don’t.” (courtesy of the Indy Star)
This guy is an expert juggler. Instead of actually fixing the root of his issue, he constantly finds new and crazy ways to “fix” his current financial struggles. This guy isn’t willing to face the truth, he has serious financial issues that need to be addressed. Are you seeing yourself here? Are you also unwilling to admit you have a juggling problem?
Admitting things to yourself is difficult so there are two tests you can take to see if you are juggling or if your financial life is actually moving forward.
1. Your expenses, in most cases, should line up in descending order from housing, transportation, food, utilities, medical, entertainment expenses, holidays and gifts, all the way down to a few miscellaneous expenses. If your list is in a drastically different order than this list, you are juggling.
2. Your net worth is a great indication of a lot of things, including if you are juggling or not. Your net worth should consistently go up. Why? Because every time you make a payment on your house or your student loans, or you contribute to your 401(k) your net worth goes up. One of the only ways to lower your net worth is to incur more debt.
Juggling is not a fun place to be. Sure you may be proud of yourself for narrowly avoiding a debt going to collections or your car getting repossessed, but you can’t live like that forever. Your financial life requires forward movement. Are you ready to step up?
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.