Where would you raise $2,000 from if it was an emergency?
Going broke hurts. I know from experience (divorce can do that pretty quickly).
And it’s not really the money. Most people have the opportunity and enough time to rebuild their fortune again.
There’s an emotional toll too.
We live in a world where we are very focused on the superficial trappings of success. We’ve stopped measuring our worth through our relationships and the service we give to the world and the community around us.
Instead, we use ‘wealth’ as a proxy for success, money as a stand-in for happiness.
So when you’re wealth evaporates – it happens to the best of us – it can rock our self-esteem.
Suddenly, we don’t know who we are anymore. The stories we told ourselves about being successful and ok, just aren’t possible anymore.
With our finances in ruins, we feel like a failure.
And worst of all, we feel like we’re alone in our failure. Like everyone else is doing great, and we’re the only idiot who has gone and lost all their money.
And of course hindsight is 20/20, so all your mistakes seem like total bone-head plays.
“I was such an idiot. Of course, I shouldn’t have listened to that adviser telling me to go out and buy 20 negatively geared properties. How could I have been so stupid?”
And so more than the financial cost, there is a burden of shame. People are embarrassed.
But you’re not alone.
I wish I could show you how many successful, well-educated, professional, good looking people come to me without a brass razoo to their name.
(Seriously. Good looking folks. I should make a calendar.)
And good people too. Fantastic people. Seriously, if we made a club (and remember I’ve been there too), you would be proud to be a member.
And because we, as Aussies, tend to share our joy and suffer in silence, we have no idea how many people are really struggling to make ends meet.
That’s why I thought the results of a survey out of the Centre for Social Impact at UNSW were really interesting.
They reckon ‘financial resilience’ in Australia is declining.
“Large numbers of Australians are struggling to meet expenses, pay bills and manage or recover from financial shocks despite two decades of GDP growth, declining income inequality and increasing financial capability.”
They asked people where they would go if they had to raise $2,000 in a hurry.
Just 8% reckon they would have savings they could dip into.
Almost 70% would have to hit up friends or family.
(And that only includes people who think they could raise that kind of money in a hurry. Some simply couldn’t.)
Do you find that surprising?
I find it staggering. Almost three-quarters of Australians would have to turn to friends or family to raise $2,000? And that’s not even big money. Some emergencies cost a lot more than that.
Across the country, scratch the surface and things are a lot tougher than they seem.
The ABS’s recent Household Expenditure Survey found that 40% of all households experienced at least one indicator of financial stress – not having enough to pay bills, or school fees and so on.
Seriously?!? After 20 years of uninterrupted economic growth, almost half the country is still struggling to make ends meet?
This is a national disgrace.
But I’m not here to soapbox.
The only point I want to make is that if you’re having trouble making ends meet, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. You’re in good company.
(In fact, you’re almost in the majority!)
And one of the biggest obstacles to getting your financial life back on track is the idea that “only stupid people go broke,” or “people will laugh at me if I reach out for help”.
It’s just not true. It happens to the best of us.
And the game isn’t as fair as you think it is – as we like to pretend it is. The odds are stacked against you from the start. You were never supposed to win.
So don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
If it helps, think of it as like joining the rebels and think of me as Obi-Wan Kenobi. We’ve got a fight on our hands and the only way we can win is if we band together.
(Whatever it takes.)
But just remember that you’re not alone and there is no shame in reaching out for help.
Come and join the club.
(Seriously, stunningly good-looking people…)
Have you ever been at rock bottom? What was that like for you? What did you do to turn it around? What advice would you give someone at rock bottom?