It can be easy to get into a rut when you’re struggling with money and don't notice the progress you’ve made.
But sometimes, it’s good to reassess your budget because you might realize you’re not strugglinglikey you once did.
There are things you might not have noticed in passing but are signs you're doing better financially than you think.
Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt
Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.
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Your pantry is always full
Has it been a while since your pantry looked sad? It can feel good to fill up your pantry with items you want for the week and stocking up on staples you can grab whenever you need them, like extra cans of soup.
One of the best smart shopping hacks is to stock up your pantry with bulk buys from stores like Costco. It may seem expensive, but you’ll actually be saving money on a per-unit cost.
You forget it's payday
You may watch every penny that goes in and out of your accounts, including your paycheck. In fact, you probably know the exact date and time it will usually show up in your account.
So it may be a little different when you realize you forgot about a payday and check your account a day or two later to find that your paycheck is there and you don’t need to worry about the timing of its arrival.
You don't have to choose which bills to pay
You may prioritize specific bills over others when you’re poor. Perhaps you forgo a payment here and there. You may also pay the minimum on your credit card bill because you can’t fully cover it.
It can be liberating to realize you can pay each bill in full every month because you have the funds to pay it after saving money or getting a pay raise.
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You treat yourself without guilt
There may be a shirt you want to buy or a new restaurant you want to try, so go ahead and do those things now that you have the money.
It can be hard to toss off guilt when you’ve felt that way whenever you tried to buy something you wanted, but eventually, you can reach a point where you might not feel guilty about it.
You don’t check menu prices
There may be some great new restaurants you want to try or a specific place you love to eat, but only on special occasions.
Feel free to order what you want without worrying about a delicious entree costing a few more dollars than a basic dinner option now that you have the extra cash to cover the difference.
You never carry a credit card balance
A credit card can be an easy option to pay for things, but you can also get into debt by adding costs to your card that you can’t pay off.
Paying off your debt and clearing it out of your monthly budget can feel good, especially if you have a rewards credit card that can earn you extra perks and points when you pay it off.
You're never denied a loan
One of the important pieces of information a bank or financial institution uses when deciding if you can get a loan is your credit score, which can take a beating if you’re poor and carrying debt.
So, it can be a big deal and a sign you’re no longer poor if you don’t get denied a loan because you’ve been able to prove you pay your debts on time and are financially responsible.
Your retirement account is growing
It’s important to save as much money as you can as soon as possible if you want to build a retirement nest egg, but that may take a lower priority on your budget compared to more immediate needs like monthly bills.
Growing your retirement account means you have additional monthly cash to put into the account and build a solid financial future.
You’re not stressed about health care costs
Health care can be expensive when it comes to things like annual physicals or prescription medication. You might also be worried about an accident or other issue that could land you in the hospital without insurance.
It can be a relief when you can afford insurance and pay a co-pay without too much worry each time you visit a doctor.
You have an emergency fund
Saving can be an important sign you’re moving up, especially if you have an emergency fund.
An emergency fund should cover an estimated three to six months of your expenses and can be used to pay for unexpected car repairs or emergency room visits.
It also can give you the peace of mind you may not have had when you were worried about an emergency expense while living paycheck to paycheck.
You don’t panic about costs
You might get a bill at a restaurant or open your credit card statement to see how much you owe that month, and you don’t panic.
That change in attitude may be a sign that you’re not worried about covering the costs of your bills the way you used to because you now have money to cover everyday expenses easily.
You’re saving money regularly
When you’re poor, you may prioritize where your money should go when you have to pay a bill or an unexpected cost.
It’s refreshing to add a line item for savings in your budget because you no longer have to worry about covering only specific bills with your meager income now that you’re earning more.
You’re not haunted by money mistakes
There may have been a time when you spent money on something but then worried about that outflow and questioned why you wasted money on it.
But you can shake off money mistakes like paying too much for an item when you’re not as worried about covering the extra cost when the bill comes due.
Your budget isn’t as strict
When you’re poor, you may have to account for each penny you have or break down where you’re spending cash so you can find little ways to save a bit of extra money.
But as you earn more and save more, you may not have to be so strict with your budget. Perhaps you can put more in savings or even pad your spending on treats like new clothes or nice dinners.
Your debts are paid
One of the tricky things about not having enough money is that extra costs can pile up. You may be earning more or saving more, but you may still have to pay down the credit card debt you built up or the car payment you took on.
Being able to crush your debts is a sure sign you’re out from under the debt burden you may have accumulated when you were poor.
It can be hard to see your successes sometimes, but you need to reflect on your financial situation and give yourself credit for your achievements after you’ve struggled with poverty.
If you can save more cash now, you may want to consider a high-yield savings account. It can help you earn more by putting money in a bank account to accumulate interest.
Remember to also stick with a budget, which can help you if you get an unexpected bill or a change in your job that may require a bit of a hit to your budget.