I want a bigger house! I want a nicer car! I want to travel the world! I also want to do all of this now with little effort. Is that too much to ask? The truth is, I struggle with lust. These wants are not bad, but they can become horrible in a hurry.
Photo by: KCNewman Photography
It is simple for me to talk about cultural problems, which is what I was tempted to do, but the problem lies within my heart. Our current culture didn’t create this desire for gain with no sacrifice; we were born with it. It is too easy to take the elevator instead of the stairs. We know the stairs are better for us, but an elevator gets us there with no effort. My friend, Rory Vaden has a great blog on self-discipline. Current inventions like debt have made it simple to indulge my lust to take what feels easy. To put the cart before the horse and just finance it.
When we live an undisciplined life that spins out of control, we make financial choices that don’t match what we really want. That is where I found myself six years ago. Dejected and frustrated I sat in the driveway sitting there with the car running wondering how I got to this point. I had gotten off of work, but couldn’t go inside. For me when I stop, all of the bad decisions and failures I have made come rushing into the front of my mind. Maybe if I sit here it will all go away like waking from a bad dream, I thought. My wife and I had overpaid on a house, put zero down and accumulated consumer debt. When we had begun our lives together we had said that we would just live on my income while she worked. If you are like me sometimes what we say and what we do is completely different. Slowly one bad decision after another had gotten me to this place of sitting in the car.
We were expecting our first child and I was sitting there wondering how we were going to make it month to month on just my income. Our plan was for her to stay at home when we had kids, however, it was more of a wish than a plan. Have you been there? Wondering how you made financial decisions opposite to what you truly wanted?
We don’t wake up one day in a disaster, though it feels that way. We don’t wander into a mess and we certainly won’t magically pop out on the other side. It is a result of a mindset and behaviors that overtime causes us to prosper or sit in a car feeling like an idiot. Often things happen so gradually we don’t even realize what is going on.
We are like a frog. If you boil water and try to put a frog in, it will jump out. When it feels the steam and heat it resists going into the pot. It is fully aware of the danger. We are the same way when there is a huge danger we know to avoid it, well most of the time. Sometimes we are not as smart as a frog. However, if you put a frog into cold water and turn the heat on high and warm the water slowly, the frog will not jump. He will sit there while being boiled. Gradual temperature change is not even noticed by the frog. This is true for most of us as well the deaths of a thousand cuts are not even noticed. I have been this frog more times than I can count.
Are you tired of being a frog? Ready to change your life and live with more than enough instead of barely getting by? Great! That is a good place to start. To get to a point of being tired of your current situation is the first step to change. Change will not come easy, but there can be enjoyment and fulfillment today. Not when you are done changing your finances, rather the here and now.
I looked at financial discipline all wrong in the beginning, therefore I didn’t stick to any budget or other financial management. Here it is simply. A budget when given thought and time instructs your money to go towards your true wants and desires, not your frivolous wants in the moment.
Sticking to a budget and investing money overtime will get you and I the wants financially that we truly desire. That is why disciplining ourselves with a budget is so important instead of pitifully sitting in a car. My wife is able to stay home with our children. We have everything we need and a sense of peace about the direction we are going.
Say no to lust and yes to what matters. Create a budget monthly with your spouse. Learn from me and live a life of purpose financially before you wake up down a road you weren’t intending to head down. In most cases the stairs are actually easier than the elevator. Be blessed on your journey.
This is part of the new book I am working on called, “A Life That Prospers.” What money questions, problems, or solutions do you have?
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