When Money is the One Thing Holding You Back

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

When money is tight, it's hard to look past the present moment and find the courage and hope you need to move forward. If you're the least bit frustrated, anxious, or feeling defenseless against a financial situation you can't control, this post shares three valuable lessons on why you shouldn't ever give up!

Feeling powerless is an emotion I’ve come to know in a very intimate way recently. Over the past few months, our finances have been tight. Unexpected medical bills, tax hikes on our rental property in New York, and a very slow blogging season have contributed to many restless nights, a few tears, and a whole lot of frustration.

My cynical nature wonders what could possibly hit us next.

Meanwhile, all my hopes, plans, and dreams (that take money to achieve, of course!) feel like they are slipping away, and it takes everything within me to not stomp my foot like a 4-year-old and proclaim life isn’t fair. Because…well, it isn’t!

But in reality, self-pity won’t get me very far, and it is during these times when money is tight — these lowest points — when I need to remind myself that saving money is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be setbacks, but the difference between those who give up and those who succeed is determination. 

I don’t know where you are in your financial journey today, but if you’re the least bit frustrated, anxious, or feeling defenseless against situations out of your control, allow me to share three valuable lessons I’ve learned these past few months in an effort to encourage you.

They might not be necessarily “ah-ha” moments, but they are excellent reminders when all you want to do is give up. And they are lessons I continue to repeat to myself over and over again….even now.

1. Remember This is Just a Season

We all experience seasons of life. There are weeks when the calendar is packed full of activities, and weeks when you enjoy quiet nights at home. Months when the toddler stage seems like it will never end, and months when you’re dealing with a hormonal teenager.

When Money is the One Thing Holding You Back | Creative Savings

Money is just like that. There are seasons of abundance, seasons of “just enough”, and then seasons where you can’t help but wonder if you’ll ever make it. The nice thing about seasons though, is they change

Both Joseph and I have experienced a wide range of seasons since the eight years we’ve been married. We started out with very little {Joseph had to work two jobs at one point to make ends meet}, spent a few years living fairly comfortably {we had enough to pay our bills plus a little extra}, and now we’re back to watching every single penny.

But you know what? History has shown us that those sparse seasons don’t last forever, and motivate us to work even harder to get through it. It might not be right away {some seasons last anywhere from just a few weeks up to a few years}, but every single one will eventually come to an end. I hope that’s as encouraging to you as it is to me!

2. Be Thankful for What You DO Have

Envy and jealousy are two very ugly words, but also very real feelings. It’s hard not to compare your own meager finances to someone else who can afford just about anything. But these feelings lead major discontentment, and ultimately, what I like to call the “IF” mentality.

  • If we had a job that paid more, then we could finally buy that house we’ve always wanted.
  • If we didn’t have that medical bill, we’d be able to go on a vacation this year.
  • If our furnace hadn’t died, we might have had enough to get new countertops.

If, if, if……what IF you could find just one thing to be thankful for? I promise it’s the mindset that changes everything!

One of the things I love about my Day Designer {besides how organized it keeps me}, is the small box at the bottom of every page that says, Daily Gratitude. Each day I’m reminded as I make the next day’s to-do list, to put something in that little box. It helps me not only reflect on all the good that happened that day, but also choose just one thing to be thankful for.

When Money is the One Thing Holding You Back | Creative Savings

You could also keep a gratitude journal based on Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 gifts, where she dared herself to find 1,000 things to be thankful for, and numbered them diligently in her small journal. Everyone always raves about Money Saving Mom’s Blessings Journal for this specific purpose, but really, any pretty notebook will do.

It might feel like a stretch to come up with all the things you’re grateful for, especially when you’re not feeling so grateful at the time, but this simple practice has THE power to life you out of a financial depression, even when nothing about your finances has changed at all.

3. Try to Change What You Can

Helen Keller once said, “Be happy with what you have, while working for what you want.”

Meaning, you need to be thankful, but you also need to hustle. I know it doesn’t seem like you have any control over your situation right now, but listen closely — there is always an expense you can cut or additional income you can earn. It’s just going to take a lot of sacrifice to do it.

Being thankful for what you have is all well and good, but there's something to be said about hustle too.

In the midst of our personal financial setback, Joseph and I have canceled Sling TV, put ourselves on a spending freeze for any unnecessary expenses (we talk about everything before we decide to buy), and have worked hard to bring in extra income wherever we can, no matter how little we make.

I’ve taken a dog-sitting job, Joseph started freelancing, and we are combing through our belongings to see what we can sell on Craigslist. No, it’s not always fun, and yes, these extra things creep into the little time we have to spend together, but we keep reminding ourselves that this is just a season. You can sacrifice for a season.

If you’re not sure exactly where to start on a mission like this, I would encourage you to first work your way through my 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses series to find every possible savings opportunity, then reference my Income-Earning Ideas category for extra cash. You can be doubly sure I’m digging into my archives right now just as much as I’m encouraging you to!

If there’s one thing I want you to remember going forward, know that you don’t have to let money be your limitation. Learn how to LIVE in spite of how much or how little you have. And by all means, show it who’s boss.

This is your life after all, and you only get one shot. Make it count. And don’t ever ever give up!

Have you recently gone through a hard time?

What encourages you to keep going?

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here

Was this post helpful? Please consider sharing the love!


  1. I’m currently in one of the “seasons”. It’s so hard to be upbeat and positive when you are literally trying your best and it’s still not good enough. When I feel like I’m in a good place with my finances sometimes I read other bloggers and how they are combatting debt and I feel so far off from them. I have made it my goal this year to be more grateful and thankful for what I have. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when you’re in a thankful mentality. Suddenly your problems become so small/

  2. Thank you for sharing! I’m so glad I peeked at Pinterest this morning. We started a family business almost five years ago and have yet to see light at the end of the tunnel. We are faced with having to close in the meantime, I’m “knocking on doors” to see what God has in store for us. These long hauls are hard! Thanks for the encouragement and reminders! Blessings.

    1. My heart goes out to you, Michelle — waiting is incredibly hard, and even though it sounds like a platitude, relying on God is a MUST. We can’t get through these times without Him. I’m so glad this post was able to encourage you, and I pray you will find that “light” soon! **hugs**

      1. Wow. What a great post. We are currently going through a difficult financial season as well. I’m so glad I read this and thank you for the encouragement.

    1. Thank you, Kristen! It’s always nerve wracking trying to decide how much to share and not to share on the blog, but if this post can help others who are also going through a tough time, then I know it was worth it. Thanks so much for your support!

  3. I always love your posts. I feel like you put so much of yourself into every single one. I so appreciate the depth in your heart and life that you let us experience. I am praying that this season will be a short, but rewarding one for Joseph and you.

  4. So sorry about your recent struggles. Thank you for posting though, because we are trudging through “a season of change” also. All the best to you and yours.

    1. I’m so glad this post was encouraging to you, Annie! Will be keeping you and your season in my thoughts and prayers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *