33 Reasons Why Your Finances Are a Complete Mess

I’m a total neat freak. Always have been.

Truth be told, the Honeybee is a neat freak too. I think that’s a big reason why we get along so well.

Oddly enough, our teenage kids are the exact opposite. They’re allergic to neat.

The other day I walked in Matthew’s “empty” bedroom and it looked like a bomb had gone off. There were so many clothes, school papers, books and other pieces of assorted detritus scattered on his floor that I couldn’t see the carpet.

Then I entered Nina’s room. Hers was no better; flotsam and jetsam everywhere. At least she was there, sitting at her desk and doing her homework.

“Clean up your room right now, young lady!” I commanded. “And when your brother gets home you can bet he’ll be cleaning his pig sty too!”

“Okay, okay, Dad! Sheesh,” my daughter whined. “Oh, and Matthew is home.”

That was news to me. “Really? Where is he?”

“In his room.”


Sure enough. A second check revealed my son to be sleeping in his bed, buried under a few t-shirts, a bath towel, a couple pairs of old sweatpants, five dirty socks, a pop quiz from history class, one silver Sharpee, a bag of half-eaten Fritos, an empty can of Coke, and 66 cents worth of loose change. Snug as a bug in a rug.


If you think that’s bad, you should know that there are a lot of folks out there who make an even bigger mess of their personal finances. It’s true.

Hopefully, your finances aren’t as messy as my kids’ bedrooms. If they are, however, here are 33 reasons why that’s probably so:

  1. You spend more than you earn every month.
  2. You’re too busy to track your income and expenses.
  3. You always have a large wad of cash in your wallet — especially if …
  4. … You’re an impulsive shopper.
  5. You continually overpay for insurance. One example: paying higher auto insurance premiums for low deductibles even though you rarely make claims.
  6. You hate the idea of paying your bills online.
  7. You play the lottery.
  8. You use those credit card convenience checks that you find in your mailbox.
  9. You never read the fine print before signing on the dotted line.
  10. You don’t eat a lot of home-cooked meals. Get into the habit by planning your dinner menus in advance.
  11. You spend more than you earn every month.
  12. You rarely review your credit card statements for erroneous charges.
  13. You think budgets are for people who can’t manage their finances.
  14. You have a budget — but you never follow it.
  15. You’re too embarrassed to use coupons, and too lazy to look for Internet promotional codes.
  16. You’re disorganized.
  17. You use your credit cards even though you can’t pay them off in full at the end of the month.
  18. You’ve got too many well-meaning friends who loan you money.
  19. You spend more than you earn every month.
  20. You’re counting on a big inheritance to drop in your lap and save the day.
  21. You prefer making the minimum credit card payments each month.
  22. You don’t think twice about using payday loans to cover financial shortfalls.
  23. You buy new cars — and then sell them every few years. Unless you plan on holding it for at least ten years, buying a new car makes little sense.
  24. You smoke.
  25. You never check your credit report for errors, signs of fraud and identity theft.
  26. You hate comparison shopping.
  27. You routinely float checks right before payday.
  28. You think emergency funds are for worrywarts.
  29. You’re not very good about paying the bills on time — probably because …
  30. … You stuff your unopened bills in a drawer as soon as you get them.
  31. You think it’s important to keep up with the Joneses.
  32. You don’t run your household like a business. And last, but not least …
  33. You spend more than you earn every month. (And you thought I was going to forget that one.)

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks


  1. 1

    Ray says

    And the killer is…….late charges and interest.
    Since 1988 I have not paid a penny in interest on any credit card.Have gotten a ton of cash rewards as well.
    The only interest I’ve paid was on the purchase of rental properties,which I have a lot of.Even with those I always paid as much extra toward the principle as I could.That did cause a bit of discomfort at times,but was well worth it.20 year loans were paid in 5 or 6 years.The mortgage interest deduction on rentals really is a farce/Why trade dollars just to get pennies back.
    Most of my rentals are low to low-mid income tenants.When I find a tenant that is suitable I always try to explain the envelope budget system to them and highly discourage them from using rentacenter type places.You can get very nice furniture at garage sales or craigslist.
    Interest and late fees are a killer to most if not all households.

    • 2

      Len Penzo says

      Good comments, Ray. I too have never paid a penny in interest to the credit card companies. Ever. And the thought of doing so just makes me cringe!

  2. 5


    Sometimes my head feels like the bedroom you describe. I’m trying to tidy my finances though! At the moment I don’t spend more than I earn, I just need to earn more to live that bit better.

    • 6

      Len Penzo says

      You’ve got the right attitude, Alex. Always be looking for ways to expand your income. Being frugal can only take you so far.

  3. 7


    Whew… I passed I don’t do those 33 things haha. I think #10 is so important… I save tons of money cooking almost all of my meals (I treat myself by eating out about 1x/week but it’s always inexpensive)

    • 8

      Len Penzo says

      We eat out once per week too, Mrs. Snark. Sometimes it’s more expensive than I’d like, but I’m at a point in life now where I can afford to indulge a bit.

  4. 9


    My sons were banned from having any food or beverage and towels in their rooms. Other than that I just told them to keep their doors closed. That ended all the arguing and nagging for me.

    I am guilty of being disorganized, #16. Last year I had to pay extra for my dog’s license because I missed the January 31 deadline. $25 for a January license. $50 after January.

    • 10

      Len Penzo says

      My kids aren’t supposed to have food up in their rooms either, Jane.

      Of course, they like to stretch the rules.

  5. 11

    Fencedin says

    I appreciate your wanting your kids to have clean rooms, but some things you just have to let slide a little. Most kids have a messy room. We don’t allow food in their room, and that I enforce. And I’d never interrupt my kid’s homework to make her clean her room!

    • 12

      Hannah says

      I think he was right to interrupt her. In fact his response was rather mild.
      MY dad would have had a cow if my room was ever like that. My parents never allowed us to let our room get messy, even when I was an older teen they got on to me about it.
      It DOES take maturity to appreciate a clean, neat environment enough to put forth the effort to make it so. But isn’t that what parents are for? To teach their kids to be mature, responsible adults?
      Letting kid’s rooms slide teaches them that it’s ok to have a messy house if they don’t feel like cleaning.
      They don’t have to have a perfect room. But at the least, you should be able to see the floor, and garbage or food dishes should not pile up.

  6. 13


    Luckily I don’t give a hoot about keeping up with the Joneses but I do like nice things :)
    Yes, all these points are very important, but I try to focus on earning more income so that I can still save like crazy and afford to travel, buy my nice things (good wine), and enjoy life.

  7. 16


    The secret to wealth management is:

    Have a credit card party!

    Celebrate with your friends when you cut and clip your credit cards and pay off your debt. Dave Ramsey calls this the Snow Ball Effect. Start with your smallest debts and then snowball into your biggest debts. Dave is a great radio host based in Nashville.

    The next secret is to use cash for all your transactions. Why do use your credit card when buying three dollars at Dollar Tree? Use cash! It is so emotional to see one’s money being spent, not a piece of plastic. The emotional connection to cash is how you budget your bills and expenses. Hence, you become wealthy in the long run.

    To Your Health…
    To Your Wealth…
    To Your Wisdom…

  8. 17

    Jennifer Oke says

    Don’t feel bad. My kids never clean their rooms either. Maybe its time to change their habit.

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