The heading above was a post on an Instagram page called Parents. The comments were mostly of the “I hear you” variety – student loans, mortgages, rent, and daycare costs were all lamented.
Some of the comments suggested that the original poster simply needed the discipline to follow a budget, then all their troubles would be solved.
It’s possible that a little care and attention to the details of their spending could help the original poster. It’s not unheard of for people to reach the income that they always dreamed about, and to feel that they are earning so much money, surely they can buy whatever they want?
Sadly, no. The painful truth is, unless you’re making millions every minute from passive investments, it’s always possible to out-spend your income.
But not everyone who’s earning good money, but is broke, is out-spending their income due to their love of designer handbags or luxury cars.
Sometimes the immense size of their boring costs means there is no room for frivolous spending.
Housing; transport; debt; insurance; and dependents. These are the big costs. If they are taking up too much of your income, cutting back on the avocado toast will not help – you never buy it anyway.
Unlike avocado toast, the big costs need some big decisions and deep thought around your values, dreams and aspirations. The existential stuff that we all usually avoid until a crisis hits.
In order to make these big decisions, you need clarity about your situation, compassion for yourself, and creativity in imaging new ways of living.
It’s not your fault that housing costs are insane. But ignoring that reality won’t get you anywhere, either.
It can take while to change the living situation that creates the big expenses. When I work with clients in this situation, we begin by simply being curious. Could they live somewhere else? What would that cost? How much could they earn in a different town? Could their family get by with just one car? Is there a way to increase their income without adding on unsustainable work hours?
When we begin, the work, it often feels like a futile endeavour. But I’ve learned that the answer always does come, and usually from a place we couldn’t have predicted when we started. So if you find yourself earning good money, but you have no money, start by being curious about how your life could be different. Not just different because it’s cheaper. Different because it’s a better fit for how you really want your life to be.