Scarcity doesn’t get a fair shake. “More” is often assigned a positive value, while “less” is considered to be bad. This seems especially true in the financial world. More money seems to be better than less money. In fact, it’s pretty tough to argue against that assertion. Fortunately for you, I’m stupid and am going to attempt such a task right now.
As of right now, my checking account balance is less than $50. I get paid (by my company via salary) tomorrow. I have had less than a $50 balance for the last 48 hours. But it doesn’t bother me. Am I broke? Absolutely not. Do I live paycheck to paycheck? Yes, but not in the traditional sense. I DO use all of my paycheck, but I don’t SPEND all of my paycheck. Many financial goals are fed with each paycheck. I try to make the most of every single paycheck that I get. If you think about it for a second, having money left over at the end of a paycheck can actually be harmful. It means that you didn’t “pay yourself first”. And as you know, “paying yourself first” is one of the first things that you should do when you get paid. Because when you pay yourself first, you save money towards your financial priorities.
I had a buddy in college that used to keep a really low checking account balance. It never fazed him. It freaked out the rest of us, but he didn’t care. On the way to late night runs to Taco Bell he would always make us stop at the ATM to see what was left in his checking account. He would base his food order on the information he gathered at the ATM. If he had $3.76, then he would get a #2 value meal. If he had $5.89, then he would get a #8 value meal. It was pretty simple. He was literally getting the most out of his money that he could.
I urge you to reconsider that “cushion” of money that you have in your checking account. While it is wise to have a contingency plan, I think it is wiser to hold yourself to higher standard. Paying yourself first (saving money) is the key. What’s your low balance on your account? Post it in the comments section. I would love to know where you stand.
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.