Falling Behind, Catching Up, Staying Even, and Getting Ahead

When it comes to your money, there’s falling behind, catching up, staying even, and getting ahead. Which one do you want to be doing?

I much prefer getting ahead (or at least staying even) but I’ve definitely been there when it comes to falling behind or catching up.

When I was falling behind, it seemed like every month was a struggle. I’d resolve that this month things weren’t going to get any worse, but then something would come along that I felt I “had” to pay for. It wasn’t until I determined that I’d had enough of borrowing money, period, that I stopped falling behind.

That led to the next stage, where I was able to work on catching up. That’s where actively working on getting debts paid off and becoming proactive about my finances came into play, although I didn’t realize it at the time.

Lately I have been at the staying even stage; I’m not really getting ahead, but I’m no longer behind. For awhile there I was nearly to the getting ahead stage, but I made a few choices that changed that. Choices that I hope will pay off in the long run, but we’ll see.

I view staying even as an interim stage; one where you just maintain. You make sure that you don’t fall behind while you prepare for the next stage of getting ahead. It’s also where you learn what it’s like to live a financially stable life, and where you build up an emergency fund so that you don’t end up back at the falling behind stage.

Getting ahead involves things like actively saving for the future (retirement, schooling, vacations, major purchases), investing, and doing additional financial planning (thinking ahead about taxes, estate planning, etc.)


  • Ron

    Great post! I like how you categorized everything. I’m personally somewhere between “catching up” and “getting ahead,” but in the past I’ve been “falling behind” or maybe I should just classify it as “scraping the bottom of the barrel!”

  • Ron, that’s funny. Glad you’re moving toward getting ahead now.