There’s a real tone of distaste and disrespect that people who consider themselves financially literate use to describe people who are struggling, especially with their cashflow.
Even in it’s best and most well meaning form – the ‘tough love’ approach – I really don’t like it.
Now, part of that is about me and my problems with conflict, but part of it is the way we pretend to know everything about some else’s life.
It’s funny how you can know something somewhere in your mind, but until you come face to face with it… you don’t really internalize it.
That’s been the case since I started to work with people who struggle with cashflow, especially those that fall into lower income brackets.
The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that my clients work so hard. They work multiple jobs and insane hours. They work and they work and they work.
And most of them don’t have time to clip coupons….
What happens when you’re short of time, money, and energy….
Cashflow problems are painfully simple when you cut down to the bone.
You’ve got to spend less or earn more.
But that simplicity really doesn’t do much to represent how freaking complicated that is… especially for people who have next to no time and energy to problem solve those things.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m super busy… it’s hard to find time to grocery shop, cook, and ‘bring a lunch’.
Clipping coupons, finding deals and ‘buying in bulk’ also go onto the list of things that are great ideas, but hard to apply when your short on major resources.
And if you try to make more time, or find moments to rest… that means you’re making LESS money. Not great for the cashflow formula.
I think wider scope is needed when we think about solving these problems
The cashflow formula is too simplistic, especially for people living in on a lower income.
Yes, it’s cold reality is one that needs to be recognized, but when trying to come up with solutions we all need to think outside the box.
It’s not just money that needs consideration. It’s time, and it’s energy.
Because every shift of a budget item creates a greater demand on one of the other two, and if you you have any hope of making a monthly financial plan that works… it needs to be realistic.
It will be harder to figure out, but I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone who’s actually living this reality.
They know it’s hard, but the vibe they get from the ‘financially healthy’ makes them second guess that.
It feels hard because it is hard.
The balance is more than just ‘spending less’ or ‘learning to be frugal’, and it’s going to take time and a whole bunch of energy that you don’t really have to change things.
It’s not impossible.
But let’s stop pretending there’s a simple solution.
Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator
Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.
She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.
Email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org