15 Signs You Could Be In Financial Doo-Doo

I know people love lists like this, so I thought I’d copy promote my friend Len Penzo’s 10 financial no-nos he recently blogged about. Along with my own thoughts on his list here, especially since I don’t agree with them all the way :) Maybe my “doo-doo” bar is a bit more conservative, though?

Check them out and let me know what you think… Here were Len’s top 10 signs you’re headed towards financial ruin, followed by my own 5 to boot:

  1. You have revolving balances on your credit cards. Len says this is a major breakage of the 10 commandments of money, but I see it as maybe a semi-break. It’s def. not ideal, but I’d be more concerned with the *amount* we’re talking about here. $200 vs $20,000 is a huge difference!
  2. You rely on payday loans to cover your bills each month. YUCK!!
  3. You’ve been turned down for a consolidation loan. Probably here too, but there are many reasons you’d be turned down outside of just financial concerns… Shoot, I can’t even consolidate my own mortgage loans!
  4. You’re hiding your spending behavior from family members. This is one of the most scariest ones here :( Mainly because it means you’re probably not ASKING FOR HELP either and thus not working on resolving your problems… Unless you’re one of those who keeps your personal lives completely separate – which of course is fine too – but again only if you’re aware of how bad the situation is and you’re working on fixing it!
  5. You finance your vehicle for more than five years. Is that really that bad?? Haha… You waste more money in the end, but financial ruin?
  6. You get more than one late notice per year. That sucks, but even 2 or 3 is understandable in my view. Not ideal, but not horrible.
  7. You get more than one bounced check per year. Thoughts are the same here, and I’d one up it and ask WHY YOU’RE USING CHECKS STILL?? Haha… This could easily be more avoidable going electronic and/or setting up auto bill pays :) Depends on how comfortable you are with all that though… maybe the missed fees doesn’t make it worth it?
  8. You need a co-signer to get a loan. This tells me that you’re probably younger and don’t have much credit to your name yet, as Len also points out inΒ  his article. If the reasons for this is poor management of your money, then yeah – of course it’s bad.
  9. You find yourself borrowing from your family and friends. I have a love/hate relationship with this :) I always do my best to not borrow or loan out money to friends and family, but there always seems to be exceptions I find, haha… 90% of them work out just fine, but you are always concerned with ruined relationships/etc. So probably best to avoid altogether if you can. The more important question to all this though is *WHY* you need the money to begin with. And are you making all this loan-taking-out a habit?
  10. You lack an emergency savings account of at least three months living expenses. I would make this 1 month or 1 paycheck cycle, but yes – in general without an emergency fund you can get screwed REAL fast…. And not in the good way ;)

And here are 5 I would chime in with as well:

  1. You’re losing money every single month. This is a pretty obvious one, but you’d be amazed at how many of us *are* losing cash every month without even realizing it :( I was in that boat myself 6 years ago before I started tracking it all and SEEING those numbers go down! My mental calculations thought I was saving $200 every month when in fact I was *losing* around $200 a month – scary stuff. The moral of the story is to track your money for at least a month or two so you have a much better picture of your overall cash flow there.
  2. You’re always transfering money from your savings to your checking. Another game I played allll the time back in the day! Haha… It’s the worst. You set a budget for yourself, go over by a few dollars (or hundreds), pull money out from savings to cover everything, and then tell yourself you’ll move it back next month when you magically budget better. HAH!
  3. You ignore debt collectors. Or worse, you’re GETTING CALLS from debt collectors! Haha… But just like everything else in life, the more you ignore it the worse it’ll get. Whether you believe you’re in the wrong or not, it’ always good to face this stuff head on and work on a game plan to rid yourself of all that stress and nonsense once and for all. Contrary to popular belief, most of these people/places are willing to work with you if you speak up! (And they’re not all shady scammers either, although you do have to keep a watchful eye out)
  4. You can’t afford anything off the McDonald’s Dollar Menu. Or at the Dollar Store! Haha…
  5. You don’t read BudgetsAreSexy.com. I mean, come on, right? “Epic fail” right there ;)

Okay, I’m gonna stop here before this list goes downhill, haha… Just don’t do any of these things and you’ll hit Baller status in no time.

Have anything to add? Preach it to the world in the comments below! Big thanks again to Lenny boy for the inspiration today – I needed something fresh to sink my teeth into :)

[Photo by mil8, tweaked by J$]

(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)

Get blog posts automatically emailed to you!


  1. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle February 11, 2013 at 6:51 AM

    This list makes me look good. No dodo here. I thought I was deep in it because of my massive debt but I could not answer yes to any of the 15 points. Unless it just means I am a responsible, organized broke person?

    1. Jose February 11, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      Jane – You definitely are no dodo and I would suggest are far from being in the doodoo :D

    2. Cat February 11, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      Jane I just had the same experience reading these points.

    3. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      It means you’re aware of your situation and aren’t hiding your head in the sand! :)

  2. Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank February 11, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    I was getting calls from debt collectors about a year ago. The problem was that they weren’t after me, but the person who had our old phone number. It was terrible. Everyday at the same time we would get a call and everyday I would tell them they had got the wrong person.

    Eventually I had to file a harassment suit against them so they would leave me alone. What a bunch of clowns.

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      Wow, really?? That blows man, sorry to hear… You’d think at least after the 3rd or 4th time of saying the same thing they’d finally believe you!

  3. Lance @ Money Life and More February 11, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    I think the financing a vehicle over 5 years just shows you bought a car you can’t truly afford. I’d personally stick to a shorter time period by 5 years is the standard these days it seems. Of course, the best pay to buy a car is a crazy low interest rate loan (per my guest post here) or cash :) If you can get a 10 year car loan at 0 percent I say go for it.

  4. downunder sugarglider February 11, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    Most of Len’s list are signs you are already deep in the do-do and most of yours, J Money, are “on the fast track to do-do”.
    I have to admit it wasn’t until I discovered this site, pulled down one of your budget tools, started tracking everything thoroughly that i discovered i was stuck in your No. 12 which resulted in your No. 11.
    I was late to work today cause I was making my lunch to take. But it was worth it to stay on budget!

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      Well I’m glad you found my site then! Seems like you’re back on track and ready to get things in order now – good for you :) Thanks for always stopping by and commenting!

  5. Cat February 11, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    I love number 15!!!

    I read this list and I was expecting to be on a bunch of them (overwhelmed with student loan debt!) and I realized I’m really not. So things might not be perfect but at least I’m not headed down the road of a lot of points on this list!

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      All because you avoid #15 ;)

  6. Jose February 11, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    I consider 2, 6, 7 and 13 to be absolute no no’s! If your getting debt collection calls, bouncing checks, are late on your payments and are getting payday loans then you are in serious financial trouble and need immediate help!

  7. Emmy February 11, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    My car was financed for 6 years… so TECHNICALLY it’s over five years… but not too bad… right? RIGHT? …

    But honestly looking at this list I KNOW there are things I need to work on, but there are other things I read and was like “Nope. That’s not an issue.” Or “That used to be an issue, but not anymore.”

    So that shows progress I think. Hopefully. I’m working on it J I promise!

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      Progress is good! And it doesn’t get better overnight, so keep on pushing and working towards that financial freedom :) You’ll get there when it’s time!

  8. Joanna @ Our Freaking Budget February 11, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    You’re right… I do love me these kinds of lists. The one I would add is “You’re relying on a yet unknown big idea of yours to take care of you after retirement.” Rather than saving, some people think they’ll come up with some untapped incredible entrepreneurial scheme that will make them millions. While that *could* be true, it’s probably not gonna happen!

    1. Sharon V February 11, 2013 at 10:38 AM

      or They’re saying, ‘When I win the lottery…’ But winning the lottery won’t fix all the underlying bad habits with money, and they’ll end up in worse shape.

    2. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:41 AM

      Great one! And so very true – much easier to think about it being fixed later than now… Unfortunately I have a feeling we’ll be seeing WAVES of these people being in trouble in the near future – it’s gonna suck :(

  9. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce February 11, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    “Financial Doo-Doo”…hilarious!!

    You mentioned it a bit, but simply putting all bills (not even just collectors notices) in a pile to never open…bad.

    Financing a vehicle over a certain amount of money should be added to the list!

    I used to hide my spending…so bad…

    Great post!

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:41 AM

      You’ve since wised up and are back on track, baby!

  10. Jen @ Master the Art of Saving February 11, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    I think most of these really depend on the context. For example, not having a sufficient emergency fund. What if you have a fair amount of money in investment accounts that are earning great returns? You can still get your hands on that money if need be, but it’s earning more than current savings rates and might take a few days to be accessible. :-)

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      True true… a nice “3 day emergency” fund ;)

  11. Michelle February 11, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    This is a great list. Looks like I’m doing pretty well! :)

  12. John S @ Frugal Rules February 11, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Many of these are big no-no’s. For some reason #7 always sticks out to me. I remember when I worked at a bank years ago and it was always the same offenders who were always bouncing checks. They’d complain about the fees that would be charged, but I generally wanted to shake some sense into them. They were giving the bank hundreds of dollars a month because they could not keep their act straight.

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      It’s frustrating for everyone, I’m sure :( It’s like they think things will magically get better without implementing any changes?

  13. Grayson @ Debt Roundup February 11, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Great list and I used to be guilty of a few of them, but have since turned it around. I like your additions J, I think they are though out well, but the #15 is the best!

  14. Edward Antrobus February 11, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Well, I’ve got 4, but I think I should get a pass for the late notice. I mean, when you set up a bill pay through your bank, you expect the bill to get paid, right? Well, apparently not if the first payment is only a week away!

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:44 AM

      Haha yup – I learned that one a while back too ;) But luckily you then know for the future!

  15. Dianne @ Skinny Seahorse February 11, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    You said doo doo. Quote from my 2 year old as she falls on the floor laughing!

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:44 AM

      You can tell your 2 year old that she’s my new best friend ;)

  16. Melanie February 11, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    I was just about to jump for joy because I’m working on number 10 but I’ve rectified any of the others that WERE me… then I read 12 and palmed myself in the forehead. Thanks, yo. :)

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:46 AM

      Haha… yes, doing #12 to fix #10 doesn’t count! :) But at least you’re working on it which is always good to hear!

  17. Marie February 11, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    When Babymoney gets older you too will start writing checks again.

    Have to pay by check to the school for cafeteria lunches unless you want to pay an outrageous fee. All school fundraisers and activities must be done by check. Preschool, piano teacher, dance teacher, gymnastics only take checks. And our church is old school so donations there are by check too. I write way more checks now that I have kids in elementary school than I ever did before.

    Of course I do person to person payment for close friends but otherwise its a check to pay them back too. Not everything can be autopay.

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      Huh… hadn’t really thought about that before, but it does make sense. Guess I won’t be tearing up my checkbook anytime soon :(

    2. Kate Horrell February 18, 2013 at 2:47 PM

      So true! When our kids were younger, nearly all our checks were to the school for lunches, field trips, fundraisers, etc. Sure, you can send cash, but don’t. Just don’t.

      My daughter’s new school has one online account for everything. No fees, and you just put money on her account and direct it to pay certain “bills.” It is brilliant.

      1. J. Money February 20, 2013 at 5:29 PM

        Love it!!

  18. Financial Black Sheep February 11, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    #10 NO emergency fund at all, I actually do not have a savings at this very moment. I also just used to finance a trip for a funeral and am on a no-spending challenge to pay off all debt by April. I figured I will just pay it back then, and until then oh the heck well. I guess you can say I am financial do-do, but I would rather think of it as gamling on me and willing to bet it all on paying off debt once and for all. We all have to take risks sometimes right?

    #6 makes me mad, not because I get a late notice, but because I lose an early pay discount. I still have to use checks can you believe it! Anyway, I have to use 1 check every month to pay rent. I used bill pay and I swear every month the check would get lost. I started keeping cash out to pay for a cashiers check to get it done, then I switched banks haha. I still have to use checks, because I put the paper in their hands to make sure I get the discount. It’s about $25 discount and the checks are $5 for a box, which is still cheaper than a cashiers check, let me tell you. :)

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:49 AM

      Well at least you’re getting a nice discount! That’s awesome… not too sure about that E. Fund situation over there, but it seems like you know what you’re doing and could probably stop the debt stuff in the off chance an emergency pops up… or you just add back to the debt and get delayed.

  19. Len Penzo February 11, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    How could I have left number #15 off the list, J? I’m glad you caught that one! ;-)..

    As for the McDonald’s dollar menu … that may be a good thing if you can’t order anything off it!

    Does anybody else remember Taco Bell used to have everything broken down into three menus: $0..59, $0.79 and $0.99 ? Or am I dating myself now?

    Thanks for the mention!

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      Hey, thanks for the inspiration! If Taco Bell had those menus still I’d treat you to a full buffet next time we cross paths ;) (And yes – you are dating yourself, haha…)

  20. Kevin Watts February 11, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    Great list. I said no to all except number 10 which I am currently working on this moment. Hopefully in the next couple of months I will have this emergency fund set up

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      Good for you :) It all takes time!

  21. Beth Anne February 12, 2013 at 3:43 AM

    I remember getting into fights w debt collectors who wouldn’t work w me at all n ppl told me not to answer the phone and I would tell them yeah I could but that’s not going to make my problem go away :(

    1. J. Money February 12, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      Exactly :( Just sucks they wouldn’t even work with you though?? I hope you’ve got it all cleared away by now!

  22. KK @ Student Debt Survivor February 16, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Luckly I’m not doing anything from the list. I know several people (not close friends thankfully) who are lying about their finances right now to their significant others (hiding purchases and what not). Bad, financial practice, but also a relationship suicide if you ask me.

  23. J. Money February 17, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Oh most def! That’s scary stuff for sure – I hope they fess up at some point :(

  24. Jerry February 17, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    Payday loans? Wow. Doo doo, indeed. I freelance so getting all bills including mortgage and insurance paid for can be tough some months but i’m clear on the rest of your list! Phew!! But reading it does lead me to think I could be better about a few of those things.

  25. Nick from BayCrazy March 10, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    I definitely echo the ‘yuckness’ of payday loan’age though I have dealt with Wonga and they are incredibly reasonable, to be fair. The astronomical APR’s can be justified in the convenience factor and the fact you’re supposed to repay fairly immediately, so that interest rate is obviously relative if you were to theoretically abuse (or fail) the conditions…

    But, yeah, certainly not a position that you want to be in – borrowing from payday companies, I’d definitely not recommend anybody get in to that habit, it can be Russian roulette and if you’re impulsive and a little daring.. aye aye aye, you don’t wanna get into that game.

  26. martha January 26, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    I wanted to share this post but I cant find the plugin to tweet it.Am I just special?

    1. J. Money January 27, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Sorry! My plugin is broken at the moment and haven’t found a better one yet… I’m glad you liked it though! You can always just grab the link to the post and manually add it up :)