Feeling like you can never get ahead financially can be demoralizing
Not too long ago, I wondered how I could ever get ahead financially after being in a financial mess for so long.
Oftentimes, when you’ve been in a bad situation for too long, you start feeling hopeless and resigned.
You start to believe things will never change because that’s how they are supposed to be.
But here’s the thing.
When you resign yourself to your fate, you are accepting that you don’t have the power to control your finances or any other area of your life, and that isn’t true.
Changing your financial life is hard work. It’s much easier to do nothing and accept the status quo. However, if you want to change your financial life, you have to do the work because there’s no other way out.
So what if instead of resignation you choose responsibility, discipline and hope?
That’s what I did, and that’s the reason I was able to start working on turning my financial life around.
So if you’d like to change your financial situation, here’s how to get ahead financially.
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HOW TO GET AHEAD FINANCIALLY (AND FOREVER)
1. STOP WASTING MONEY
You can’t get ahead financially if you keep wasting money. It’s just not going to happen.
You can’t spend your income paying off debt or buying liabilities and expect to thrive financially.
Many of you spend a large portion of your income on things that don’t increase your net worth or provide financial stability.
The only way to better yourself financially is to spend your income on things that will increase your net worth and protect you from financial stress.
To improve your finances, you have to become more intentional with your spending. You have to spend with purpose.
One way to become intentional is to track your spending and avoid impulse spending.
You can get ahead financially if you stop wasting money and start tracking your spending.
2. SAVE AND INVEST
There’s a reason why saving money is one of the pillars of personal finance.
You can’t escape financial problems or become financially free without saving and investing.
This is why so many people are struggling financially and trapped in a financial nightmare.
Let that sink in for a moment. Nearly half of the adult population don’t have $400 in savings.
Saving money is very important and you can’t have financial stability unless you have a buffer you can rely on.
To thrive financially, you have to start saving like your life depends on it, and you have to start investing so you can maximize your savings and income.
Save as much money as you possibly can and keep investing and growing your income.
3. MAKE MORE MONEY
While more money isn’t always the answer to financial problems, sometimes, making more money is the easiest way to solve financial problems.
For example, there’s a difference between earning $35,000 a year and earning $70,000 a year when you’re struggling to make ends meet.
While I like to focus on saving money and being frugal, I can’t ignore the fact that making more money also makes it easier to achieve financial security.
The most important thing however, is what you do with your income. Meaning, how you spend your income will determine what kind of financial life you’re going to have.
So, if you feel like you’re doing all the right things, taking all the right steps and making the right financial decisions, yet you’re still stuck financially, you may have an earning problem and not a spending problem.
If you have an earning problem, your best bet to financial freedom is to increase your income without changing your lifestyle too much. Which means, avoiding lifestyle inflation even when you start making more money.
4. STOP USING YOUR FUTURE INCOME FOR CURRENT EXPENSES
Yes, I am talking about debt.
Debt is using your future income for current expenses.
When you borrow money (whether from a credit card or an unsecured loan), you’re making a promise to repay that debt. And guess where that money is coming from?
It’s coming from your future earnings!
Yes, that’s right. You’re pledging your future income to satisfy your current need or want. And of course, the more money you borrow, the bigger the hole you are digging for yourself.
And if you keep adding to your debt, before you know it, you start using a sizable chunk of your income to service debt.
Not only is that a bad thing, you will also have to use your future earnings to pay for your current expenses.
So think about it for a second.
Do you really want to use your earnings from 2025 to pay for something you bought in 2020 (especially if it’s something you probably won’t own anymore)?
Doesn’t really sound like a good idea does it?
But, that’s exactly what you’re signing up for when you borrow money.
So if you’re wondering how to get ahead financially, the answer is: stop using your future income for current expenses.
5. THINK LONG TERM
Jumping into get-rich schemes out of greed or ignorance isn’t a smart way to fix your finances.
If you have been stuck in a financial rut for a while, you need time to revamp your finances so you can become financially stable.
Which means you have to be patient and understand it’s going to take some time to get to where you want to be financially.
Don’t look for shortcuts because they could potentially land you in a bigger financial hole.
Be wary of get-rich-quick schemes or promises that sound too good to be true. You need time to fix your finances and you should be ready to stay the course no matter how long it takes.
6. DON’T BE A VICTIM OF CONSUMERISM
One way to get ahead financially is to be mindful of consumerism.
If you’re constantly thinking of what to buy and how to add more stuff to your life, you’re going to keep struggling financially.
Don’t allow money or material things to dominate your thoughts.
Don’t spend your time looking at ads, searching for the latest gadgets or browsing online shops.
To take control of your finances, you must stay away from temptation and be emotionally strong. That means not being easily swayed by the offers that come your way and not going out of your way to look for them.
You know how you start to feel hungry after looking at pictures of food? The same thing happens if you constantly expose yourself to ads and online shops.
No one is immune to temptation so you have to protect yourself.
For example, I hardly go on Amazon or any online shop unless I want to buy something.
Before I go on these websites, I know exactly what I want to buy. I hardly ever browse their latest or best selling items because I don’t want to be tempted.
It’s much easier to stay away from temptation than it’s to resist.
So stop creating problems for yourself by being a victim of consumerism and don’t be motivated by material things.
Be content with what you have and stop trying to add more stuff to your life.
7. MAKE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT
You can’t improve your financial life without a plan.
You need a short-term and a long-term financial plan. Your plan should also include all the things you need to do to turn your financial life around.
So for some of you, your plan will include:
- paying off debt
- earning more money
- saving money
- getting rid of some expenses and other liabilities
- Moving to a cheaper location
- Becoming a one-car family
- Vacationing locally instead of traveling internationally
Everyone’s plan is going to be different depending on your individual circumstances.
So spend some time creating a plan for your finances and don’t forget to include the steps you need to take to change your financial situation.
8. WANT TO GET AHEAD FINANCIALLY? MAKE SOME LIFESTYLE CHANGES
While this tip is pretty simple, it’s also one of the reasons lots of people can’t get out of financial rut.
A lot of people are unwilling to change their habits, but it’s insane to think you can keep doing the same things with different results.
Remember, you reap what you sow.
If you’re serious about getting ahead financially, you have to make some adjustments to the way you live.
For some of you, that means:
- Eating out less often and cooking your meals at home. If you don’t know how to cook, you have to learn. You may also need to learn how to meal plan and make cheap but nutritious meals for your family.
- Start shopping used to save money.
- Drive a less expensive car
- Live in a cheaper neighborhood
- Put your kids in cheaper or free schools
- Brown bag your lunches to work
- Make your own coffee and say goodbye to Starbucks. You can invest in a good coffee maker that will last you a long time.
- Buying fewer gifts and focusing on creating memorable experiences.
- Limiting how much toys you buy for your kids
- Buying fewer clothes but better quality
- Canceling cable and other subscriptions
- Doing more free activities instead of paying for entertainment
There are so many lifestyle changes you can make if your goal is to improve your finances.
9. CHANGE YOUR BELIEFS AND ATTITUDES TOWARD MONEY
Developing healthy attitudes toward money is one of the first steps to better yourself financially.
Even if you know all the best personal finance principles and strategies, if you don’t change your beliefs and mindsets about money, you’re going to keep struggling financially.
Many of you grew up with wrong beliefs and assumptions about money and those beliefs continue to hinder you.
For example, believing it’s okay to spend more than you earn, believing that debt is a good thing or a house is always an asset.
There are lots of beliefs that drive harmful financial decisions and your job is to identify what those beliefs and practices are so you can get rid of them.
The only way to make a difference in your finances is to stop sabotaging yourself.
10. BE WILLING TO MAKE SACRIFICES
Just like you can’t achieve anything worthwhile in life without making sacrifices, changing your financial life is no exception.
The reason lots of people don’t do anything about their financial problems is because of laziness, an unwillingness to change bad money habits or make sacrifices.
So they keep doing the same things and keep dreaming of financial freedom while time passes them by.
You can’t make progress in your finances without making some sacrifice. It’s not going to happen, at least not if you want lasting change.
So think about where you need to make some changes in your life so you can improve your finances.
Figure out what sacrifices you can make to get financially healthy, then take action.
That’s how you stop being broke or struggling financially.
Final thoughts on how to get ahead financially
It’s easy to feel hopeless when you’re struggling financially and nothing seems to work.
But, there are lots of things you can do to change your financial situation if you really want to.
In this post, I have listed ten steps you can take to get ahead financially and you can also get expert financial advice if your situation is really bad and you need some personal guidance.
So don’t throw in the towel and think there’s no hope for you. Lots of people have turned their financial life around and there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.
So step out and take action today!
What’s the one thing you can do today to get ahead financially?