How to tell You’re Living beyond your Means

When you have too much month left at the end of the money, it’s a pretty good bet you’re living beyond your means – spending more than you make. A staggering number of Americans are afflicted with this disease, and it has been worsened by the economic downturn in the wake of the bursting of the real estate bubble in 2008-2009.

Companies are shedding jobs and cutting salaries, and millions of Americans are finding themselves facing financial crisis.

Too many people who are now facing near insolvency have failed to see the clear warning signs of impending crisis. Had they been more alert, it’s just possible they could have taken steps to avoid, or at least mitigate their problems.

Here are 11 signs you should be on the lookout for. If more than two of them apply to your situation, you, my friend, are living beyond your means.

1. You buy more with a credit card than with cash or a debit card. The interest payments alone will eat up most of your disposable income.

2. Your mailbox is so full of credit card bills and overdue notices there’s no room for junk mail, and you haven’t received a letter from your mother in months.

3. You’ve forgotten how to write a check or balance a checkbook. Worse, you haven’t used your checkbook in so long you no longer remember where you put it.

4. The teller at your bank gives you a sympathetic look when you ask for your balance.

5. The teller at your bank goes into a fit of giggling when you ask for your balance.

6. Your wallet has more dust and lint than money – in fact, it has no money.

7. Your pockets have only pocket lint and your keys.

8. You have to use your credit card to buy a cup of coffee.

9. You try to use your credit card to buy a cup of coffee, and it’s refused because you’ve maxed it out.

10. A new business associate gives you his calling card, and it won’t fit into your wallet because you have too many credit cards.

11. You have to try at least three credit cards to make a purchase before one is accepted.

You will probably have noticed that most of these warning signs involve credit cards. The current problem of credit card debt is a good example of the saying, “every silver lining has a cloud.” The ease of obtaining and using the plastic has lulled many Americans into a false sense of prosperity – a glow that fades as soon as the bills arrive.