Any big change in life, whether it be a diet, quitting smoking, or paying off debt, is going to require some uncomfortable situations. Some hard decisions.....some sacrifice...and some dedication.
What big changes ALSO come with, sadly, are excuses.
I've used them. Others AROUND me have used them....they keep us safe....they make the uncomfortable things go away.
Sad part is, though, that the more we keep things the same....the more they, well...stay the same. We keep eating the way we eat and not exercising? We're going to be unhealthy and overweight. We keep smoking? Eventually, it's going to catch up with you. You keep spending? You will never win with money.
Here's some typical excuses to not follow a debt-free, zero-based budget life.....and what we can do to kick those excuses to curb for good.
1. We Are Too Broke to Stick to a Budget
I've heard this before, especially with regards to following a specific plan like the Total Money Makeover.
"We can barely make ends meet as it is, how can we follow a plan?"
People have no hope, in this type of situation. They see no way out.
However, the truth is, you're too far gone NOT to try a different way. Because obviously, your way of doing things isn't working. It's like a drunk who hits their 5th OWI and wonders how their life got to this point.
If the month is extending past the money, it's time to make some MAJOR changes. This may include letting a pair of fresh eyes take a look at exactly what money is being spent on. Once you write everything down and give every dollar you make a "job" to do, you will find that a lot of money is being wasted....even if you think you don't have it coming in.
For example, if you smoke. A typical pack of cigarettes is $8. If you smoke a pack a day, that's $56 a week and $224 a month. If you are debt free and are at a place where you can open up investments, putting $224 a month into good growth stock mutual funds if you are under 40 years old will make you a millionaire by the time you retire.
But you're choosing to smoke instead. Something that is guaranteed to shorten your retirement time.
We all make CHOICES as to where our money goes. But you are never too "broke" to write it all out and take control of it.
2. We Only Live Once and We Want to Have Fun
Budgeting, saving, and planning is not sexy. You're right. Not at all.
This is where "sacrifice" comes in and where most people get lost on their way to debt free living. Because it's freakin' HARD.
It's incredibly easy to plop down a credit card for some airline tickets (especially if you get those all-important MILES and POINTS! WOOO HOOOO)....and travel off to distant lands. You DESERVE this.....and you will cover it later, no problem. Why worry about that NOW, right now you are sticking your feet in the sand and sipping a Banana Monkey. Don't bug me with this crap NOW...I'm on vacation.
People get this idea in their heads that life is too short to WAIT....life is too short to say "No" to some opportunities. You should be making memories now because you may not be around to make them later.
All fine and dandy until later comes...and you're still breathing and walking around...and living...except you have absolutely no PLAN. You get to 65...you've worked your ENTIRE LIFE...and while you have albums full of travel pics, or a really nice car, or some cute STUFF....you really have nothing to show for it as far as a legacy and a savings.
That scares the BEJESUS out of me.
So, I say No....a LOT. And it's really really hard. My husband (the "free spirit") really got into our Disney vacation when we went this year (yes, we paid cash). He wants to go again as soon as possible. But, we are going to do it right. We are going to go when we are not going to come home to MORE debt, MORE worry, and MORE stress.
I really REALLY want a house in the country....but I'm not going to take that on knowing we will be house poor and worried constantly that we over-purchased just for that instant gratification of what we "WANTED"
We can make memories with our kids and not have to spend a fortune.
We only live once, and our goal is to do it right....and leave in our wake a legacy of financial freedom!
3. Everyone has a Car Payment....Credit Card Debt......Etc.
Our generation has been raised to believe that debt is completely normal. We are even told to go out there and "build our credit" so that we may, someday, take out even MORE debt.
The FICO score is something we aspire to keep high and we want to be just like our friends and family....so we get a car loan....we take on credit cards.
This is NORMAL.
And yeah, that's probably right. I honestly don't know too many people with paid for cars. Typically by the time the normal person gets their car paid for, they want a new one. This is why leasing is so popular. As long as someone can afford the "payments"....they can afford the car. Right?
I get it, too. I am a car person. I love a new car. LOVE it. The smell, the interior, the shiny-ness of it all. I LOVE it. What I don't love is the fact that I don't own that car...the bank does. It's not my new shiny thing...it's the banks. I want the bank out of my life.
So, I traded in my newer car for an older model. And it's not perfect. It has rust. The center console button is loose (and they never fixed it like they promised). The rear view mirror shimmies when I drive it.
It is by no means a perfect car. But you know what? I'll have that sucker paid off in no time and I'll be payment free.
And when I need something new....I will pay cash. Because when you have no payments, suddenly you're able to put CASH away.....amazing.
You don't HAVE to be "normal".....you don't HAVE to have a beautiful new car....or all the new, expensive items a credit card can afford you (that you can't really afford). It's all fakery. It really is. At the end of the day, it means very little.
4. The Economy is Bad and I Can't Get Ahead
This is a popular one. Blame the economy. Blame Obama. Blame El Nino. Blame whatever you can for whatever reason it is that you can't find a good paying job that will allow you to "get ahead" (whatever that means).
Here's the thing: you are NOT a tree. I've said this before. You are not rooted where you stand. Your circumstances may have been set out before you by someone else (typically your parents help pave the way a bit).....but you have free will.
We live in a country that a lot of people like to dump on. Let's face it. And man if we don't have some problems, that's for sure. There's violence, there's inequality out there, there's a reality TV show personality that is currently a front-runner for the White House. It can look SCARY if you think about it.
HOWEVER, that being said, there is opportunity out there. You HAVE to chase it down, but it is THERE.
The government is not going to save you. They can barely stop from embarrassing themselves on a regular basis, and you think a government program is going to save you? Our country is TRILLIONS in debt. Don't be like them.
The LOTTERY is not going to save you, so knock it off. Scratch off tickets are not your "ticket" to wealth and stability. It's a distraction. So are alcohol, cigarettes, gambling.......knock it off. LOOK At where you have rooted yourself....is it a recipe for success?
But you can't afford college? Ok then.....but do you have any marketable skills? I started my business in 2008 with no money, no experience, and....let's face it...no freaking CLUE what I was doing. I had never ran a business before....but you know what's free? Information. It's FREE. Libraries are FULL of it. Fill your mind with information and you can be unstoppable.
Books make incredible weapons to combat poverty.
Really, all it takes is a little self-motivation. Don't blame outside forces for your inability to WIN. It's easier to win when you finally realize that you are the only one standing in your way.
If your job is a fry cook....be the most AMAZING fry cook on the planet. Work the system....be an incredible employee....and doors will open.
If you job is not allowing you to make ends meet....work a 2nd. Start a side business. Develop a skill that is applicable in the marketplace and leverage that. YOU HAVE OPTIONS.
Go out there and do it.
Here's the thing....people don't like to hear this stuff. I know sometimes I don't. Sometimes I just want that part of my brain that says "this is all up to you" to shut the hell up so I can just BLAME someone....or invoke some excuse as to why budgeting and debt free living doesn't apply to my "special snowflake" circumstances.
But it's all bull, really. I know it can be done, because I've SEEN it.....we've DONE it. I know a person can pay off a ridiculous amount of debt by carefully budgeting. I know I can say "NO". I know I can start a business from scratch and make it work.
And if I can....other people can....because I'm not some exception to the rule, here. I'm just someone that said "I'm sick of this crap" and decided to get mad enough to make major changes.
And that's where it needs to get to. You need to be so sick of it that NOT changing is not an option.
So, go take a long look in the mirror and YOU decide how tired you are of not having control of your money....and how done you are with every excuse.
That's when the change will begin.