You Have No Money?

People often say they have no money. They say it when they are asked about their goals and dreams for the future. They say it when asked about their lack of investments. The say it when they can’t make the rent or pay the bills. Sometimes they are telling the truth.

More often they are telling a partial truth. They may not have much money right at the moment, but the excuse ignores all the money that goes through their hands. Hopefully you don’t make this excuse too often yourself, but if you have ever heard yourself saying you have no money, read on…

Self-Defeating Money Habits

There are very few people in the United States who can honestly say they have no money to set aside for retirement, for their children’s future education, or for their dreams. Many, for example, watch cable television instead of saving money for other things. That’s okay, and is their own business. But it is also true that they choose that $45 monthly expense over the $150,000 it would be at retirement (assuming 40 years of $45 monthly contributions and an 8% return).

And no one has a right to tell a person he should eat a cheaper (and healthier) diet of rice and beans instead of meat, and bank the savings. On the other hand, the money saved would buy a vacation after some amount of time. It is dishonest to deny that these options are real.

When I was young I owned an old mobile home on a lot as an investment. I rented it out to a friend from work for $365 per month. It was an awful place, but it was safe, and there was a need for low income housing in the area. In talking to my friend I discovered that he and his wife made more than enough money to buy a nice house, but didn’t have any money saved for a down payment.

What they did have was pizza. It was delivered three times weekly, at $20 each with tip. I know the specifics because I was not only their landlord, but their pizza delivery guy. It is worth noting that although they thought they had no money to buy a home, I owned a home and a rental unit while making less than $10,000 annually at the time, and they made over $40,000 between them.

In any case, that pizza adds up to over $3,000 per year. Even if they truly valued pizza, they could have eaten frozen pizza instead and saved enough for a down payment within a couple years. This may be an extreme example of poor money habits, but it’s a true story. In fact, there were dozens of other ways they could have cut their expenditures and saved the money instead.

You may think you can’t save, that you have no money to set aside, but there are always ways. Imagine for a moment if you were offered a million dollars to find 20 ways to cut your expenditures. Don’t you think you might find them? So to save for a home or to invest or start a business someday, why not make the list right now? You don’t have to sacrifice too much. Just cut costs on the ten things from the list that matter least to you, and put the money saved in a separate bank account.

Now, isn’t it better to honestly say “I choose not to save,” since that at least acknowledges the option? And we have only looked at the cost-cutting and saving part of the equation. There are probably ways most of us could make more money this week if we are honest about that too. As you might guess, I am skeptical when people say they have no money. You should be too – even when you hear yourself say it.

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