This post was originally posted on July 15, 2014.

So you are having a hard time making ends meet. You get to the end of the month and you still have more month left than you have money. Maybe you find that you can't pay your credit card bills on time every month, or even worse, you find yourself falling behind on rent or your mortgage.

So, is this an income crisis....a debt crisis....or a career crisis?

Let’s look at Income Crisis first….

The obvious answer is it has to be an income crisis.  Right? I mean after all if you just had more income you'd be fine.  Except that in many cases, you wouldn't be. There always seems to be more ways to spend your income than there is to make it.  Said another way you can't out earn stupid behavior. (No I didn't call you stupid if you've tried to increase earnings to save this problem, but you can still make stupid choices that make it not work).

The Latte Factor

Let’s face it having free coffee at work, cheap coffee you brew at home, or running through the drive through at Starbucks isn’t really as a one time event going to make that big of a difference (the so called “latte factor”). At the same time doing this along with 100s of other little decisions like this adds up. You are where you are today because of the sum total of hundreds of decisions you’ve made to get here. (and if you don’t like that picture then reach out to us here to set up a time to see if we can help)

It May be obvious

Let's take the obvious.  If you are making more by working longer hours it's very easy to justify things like "well I don't have time to cook, I'll just stop here and grab a bite." I love going out to eat, and it is so much more convenient to grab a bite than it is to cook, but it also is more expensive than cooking at home or bringing your lunch.

Fact is that even more than your income your behavior controls your issue.  I've looked at dozens and dozens of people's budgets over the years and there is always some level of cuts that can be made. Oh, and if you aren't tracking your spending and planning your future spending (in other words making a budget) you are almost always overspending and don't even know it.

So making more, is that the solution? Well, if you have too much month at the end of the money-making more by getting a part-time job or working overtime or even just having the Mother of All Garage sales or Craigslisting (is that even a word?)  the entire contents of that closet that you can't open without getting hit on the head (you know the one) (or for those of you with a two car garage...selling the stuff that keeps you from even managing to park ONE car in there would be great)

Well these things will Certainly help, but only if you also work to get control of your behavior. If you develop a plan and stick to it, then increasing income temporarily or permanently is a great way to solve the problem. But without getting to the big picture and getting that under control...well it's a band-aid at most.

So what do you think is making more the solution?

(check out Part II and Part III for two other looks at this)

About the Author Scott

Helping people to be better Stewards of God's gifts. Because Stewardship is about more than money.

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