Photo: Len Penzo
I recently got back from a vacation that included a family wedding on the Central California coast and a sightseeing trip around the San Francisco Bay Area.Of course, one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco is the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge. It’s absolutely breathtaking to behold in all its majesty.
On our way back home we stopped to admire this view at Battery Spencer, on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Ironically, the gorgeous span is also an extremely popular suicide location; more than 1300 people have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge since it was completed in 1937.
And while most people would never consider committing harakiri by any means, there are more than a few folks who unwittingly choose to commit financial suicide every day.
How so? Well, here are seven of the most popular methods:
1. Having children too early. There is nothing more destructive to one’s financial future than bringing children into the world without having an established and stable means to support them. Raising children requires a tremendous investment of not only money, but time as well. Unfortunately, when those resources are in short supply, it becomes extremely difficult to start a business, or gain the necessary experience, on-the-job training and/or education required for the type of career advancement opportunities that lead to significantly increased earning power.
2. Abusing credit cards. There are thousands upon thousands of careless people who have been driven to financial ruin after burying themselves under a colossal mountain of debt via credit card abuse. In most cases, it’s because they lacked the financial acumen and discipline to understand that credit cards are a double-edged sword that must be treated with respect and used responsibly.
3. Maintaining financial dependency on others. We are constantly being admonished by officials to avoid feeding bears, squirrels and other wildlife in order to prevent them from eventually becoming dependent on handouts. For the exact same reason I’m absolutely convinced that, the longer we stay dependent on government assistance or friends and family for financial support, it becomes tougher for us humans to achieve financial independence.
4. Failing to accurately track income and expenses. Trying to get a handle on your personal finances without knowing how much money you are earning and where it is all going is tantamount to trying to drive while blindfolded. People who fail to take the time toanalyse their finances typically end up crashing and burning because they lack a means of ensuring they get the most from their income. As a result, they end up succumbing to a severe case of lifestyle inflation.
5. Setting down roots in the wrong location. Whether you realise it or not, one of the most deceptively critical financial decisions you’ll ever make is where to live. True, sometimes we have little choice in the matter. However, it’s important to keep in mind that choosing to live in a high cost-of-living locale without the income to support such a lifestyle makes it extremely difficult to not only make ends meet, but also accumulate wealth over the long haul.
6. Failing to establish a plan for the future. The young always seem to have more time than money, which is why financially important things like putting aside money for short- and longer-term emergencies — or feathering a retirement nest egg — are often never even considered until people approach their golden years. Of course, by then, it’s usually much too late. The old bromide really is true: Failing to plan is the same thing as planning to fail.
7. Marrying the wrong person. Choosing whom to marry is another epic decision with major implications. Remember: Marriage is a financial contract. As such, it’s always a financially dangerous proposition — there are countless responsible people who ended up bankrupt due to the antics of a financially undisciplined spouse to prove it. As for those who eventually recognise their matrimonial mistake after saying “I do,” they still end up paying dearly. The average cost of a divorce is approximately $20,000, which just goes to show that the only people who prosper from a divorce are usually the lawyers.
More from Len Penzo:
- Debt Elimination: The Pros and Cons of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps
- Budgeting to Meet the Household Strategic Plan
- Why Now Is The Best Time to Pay Off Your Debts
- The Apocalypse Can Wait: My State of the Household Report for 2012
- 100 Words On: Why Budgets Are So Important (for Most People)
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