We all have a financial weakness. That one area where we struggle to do the right thing. We might even struggle with deciding what the right thing is. If we remain unaware of our financial weakness, it can wreak havoc throughout our financial life, as my weakness did mine.
However, knowing your financial weakness, your financial Achilles’ Heel, so to speak, can help you become a better manager of your finances.
My Financial Achilles’ Heel
Me? I like to squirrel things away for the proverbial rainy day, but when the rainy day comes, I don’t like to dip into my stash.
My husband and I have an emergency fund. True, it’s smaller than we’d like, but we do have one in place. Considering 28% of Americans don’t have any emergency fund (CNN Money), we’re glad to have our small one.
There are other ways I squirrel away things. We buy produce in season at lower cost by doing creative things like renting an apple tree. Then we store it away for the cold winter months. (It makes me feel a bit like a pioneer. A pampered pioneer, but a pioneer, nonetheless.) Right now we have a deep freezer in our basement that is filled with plums, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and applesauce. If we didn’t have money for groceries, we have enough fruit to easily last us for two to three months.
Having an emergency fund as well as a stocked pantry doesn’t sound like a problem, right?
Right. I’m being financially responsible and preparing for a time when money will be tight.
Here’s the problem.
I don’t like to dig into my stash.
If I have a financially lean month and I’m faced with a large expense like a car repair, I don’t do what would be logical–dip into my emergency fund. Instead, my first inclination is to put the repair on my credit card and leave the emergency fund intact.
If I have a month where I don’t have as much grocery money, I’m more likely to put groceries on my credit card than make a significant dent in our food stash.
My behavior makes.no.sense. No sense.
And yet it took me years to figure out that I do this and to realize that I have to fight the natural inclination to go in debt rather than dip into my reserves. Part of why my family struggled with credit card debt is because of this irrational behavior. Now the credit card debt is paid off, and I have a chance to start anew, well aware of my weakness.
What’s Your Financial Weakness
So, what’s your financial weakness? What completely irrational behavior do you exhibit? Are you even aware of what it may be?
Honestly, finding the chink in your armor, so to speak, may take years. I think it took me nearly 15 years to figure out mine, and I made a lot of financial mistakes during that time. I’m not sure why I exhibit this behavior except that perhaps growing up, I always saw my parents struggle with money. They never had money to create an emergency fund. Credit cards were their emergency fund, and they had to use them frequently.
I’m guessing for most of us, the experience is the same. Financial behaviors we saw in childhood and learned as normal become the basis for some of our adult decision making.
What is your financial Achilles’ Heel?