I know from experience that you don’t have to be irresponsible to get yourself into financial trouble.

There are certain behaviors that act as kryptonite to your financial health and they’re not the typical behaviors we hear about all the time.  You know…not keeping a budget, not paying bills, not keeping a job, using shopping as a form of therapy…all of the things you know you’re NOT guilty of.

You have an awesome career, a thriving business, you budget, save and pay your bills. So what’s the problem?

Read on to see if you might be exhibiting one or more of these 4 mistakes that could unexpectedly leave you in a financial mess.

#1. Underestimating Your Financial Worth

Whether you own your own business or work for someone else, it’s possible that you are not being properly compensated for your hard work.  We have the tendency to rob ourselves because we don’t have confidence in our gifts, talents and the skill set that our bank accounts should reflect.

Don’t be afraid to fight for a salary that more appropriately matches what you bring to the table.

If the company truly values your contribution, they’ll be open to negotiation.  If you are an entrepreneur and your clients receive a perpetual discount valued to your insecurities; if you’re barely covering all your expenses as a result of this – step back, reevaluate your worth and charge accordingly.

People are more than willing to pay for what they deem valuable. If you don’t see your value, how can they?

#2. Enabling Someone Else’s Mess

It’s important to know the difference between financial assistance and financial enabling.

When you’re repeatedly being called on to finance someone else’s mistakes, you’re most likely enabling their irresponsible behavior. You’ll eventually suffer financial and/or emotional strain and hinder their ability to thrive without you.

Learn to say no.

Saying no is hard but necessary, and will allow them to figure it out themselves.  It also releases the burden placed on you of having to deal with their mess.

What happens if you say no?  Most likely they will figure it out; and if not, you’re enabling is only buying them time before the inevitable happens. Removing yourself as the safety net allows them the opportunity to find intrinsic motivation to change their situation for the long-term.

#3. Deferring Financial Responsibility to Your Spouse

Marriage is not an opportunity to let go of financial responsibility, nor does it justify ignorance.

Even though you may have agreed that your spouse will handle majority of the finances and are confident you can completely trust them, you should still be aware of your financial position as a family.

This lessens the probability of being completely blindsided and left with a financial nightmare.  One day you could be living a beautiful, comfortable life and the next you could be trying to save your home from foreclosure as they repossess your car out of the driveway.

Finances rank high as a cause for divorce. As uncomfortable as it may be, conversations about the family finances need to happen often.

Give and expect transparency. At a minimum, a cheat sheet should be created by whomever handles the finances to keep the other spouse in the know regarding insurance documents, bills, important passwords, due dates, debt and retirement information.

#4. Being Overly Responsible

Okay, I’ve got it!  You’ve got it going on financially and you’re in a better position than most of your family and friends.

When things are tough for them, you naturally want to be a helping hand because after all, you have it to spare and your compassion won’t allow you to leave them out in the cold.

There is nothing wrong with it and I’m right there with you. However, be careful about always volunteering to step up and take financial responsibility. You don’t want the responsibility of holding everyone above water while you’re slowly sinking below it.

It won’t end pretty – just ask MC Hammer or NBA player Antoine Walker who reportedly gave financial support to over 70 different friends and family at one point in his career.  Don’t assume the responsibility of the co-signer, debt settler or lifestyle financer.

Give them space to find their own way and figure things out while being available to help if needed.

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