The Beginning of the End: The Financial Facade
Until last year, I have never had more than $1000 in my bank account and I have virtually been living paycheck to paycheck for over 12 years of my life! Boy, I don’t know what to call that, but it goes something like this; BROKE, UNCERTAIN, STUPID, one crisis away from becoming financially destitute.
I am not really sure if I was living any kind of Australian or American dream, but I sure know it felt more like an American nightmare and this nightmare was now called MY LIFE. Goodness, what a horrible life it was! I didn’t feel confident at all about my finances, they were a hot mess, and my confidence sure had waned.
I am not sure how it all got to this point of crisis but I knew I had to put a stop to the siphoning of my bank account. It was like I had a 12-year leakage and it wasn’t stopping unless I put a stop to it. I was in need of a RADICAL change in my financial life. If I was going to achieve radical results, I was going to have to make some serious behavioral modifications. And I needed a radical transformation or I was going to live out my lives like a pauper. I don’t know about you, but that is NOT my idea of an AWESOME life!
I could no longer continue the financial façade because I was literally living one paycheck short of a financial crisis! When I met my husband in April 2014 and we had been spending money like it was on the brink of extinction! But when I had this INSANE epitome to take a Financial Class, I thought I was going MAD! Ha! Not only was I a Finance major, I have an MBA too! And you know what? No MBA and no university degree is going to save you from your financial hell if you don’t stop overspending and living beyond your means, believe me, I know that path intimately well and maybe you do too. I just lived through my own personal financial inferno to tell the tale. I thought to myself, “budgeting was not for us, that was for broke people who couldn’t manage their finances! Boy, I was in for a long 9 weeks!”
What the Hell is a Budget Anyways?
“Your finances are 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge.” Dave Ramsey. I had always known that. So philosophically, I knew it, the problem was, I had NEVER applied it. We KNOW what we need to do but we DON’T do it. Ridiculous I know. We would rather have new and shiny things, take lavish vacations and have NO money in our bank accounts and be broke all the time. Are we insane or what?
Dave Ramsey has helped millions of people get out of debt and become financially free. I think this guy knows what he’s talking about. I should probably listen this time because obviously I wasn’t doing that very well either… I was FINALLY ready to tune in.
When I was introduced to this foreign thing called a budget, I wasn’t excited at all, to say the least, envelopes, budgeting, saving; this was not appealing at all! My beliefs could only perceive a budget as ‘boring’ and ‘restrictive’. Until I saw the light….I had to make a total 180-degree shift in thinking, my poor habits had gotten me so far and I had gotten myself into financial ruins too many times NOT to listen this time.
But alas, a few weeks later after some serious side-talks with myself, my husband and I had completed our first budget. Yep! “If you don’t tell your money where to go, you will always wonder where it went,” that is one of Dave Ramsey’s mottos and it has become of one my favorites. And since I had been living a broke and insolvent life, for most of my life, I was always wondering where it had all disappeared? Poof, it was gone like magic, ALL of the time!
It was the tale of the elusive dollar. Well, the credit card companies had most of it, and the finance company owned my car, no wonder their buildings are far bigger and far more opulent than my house because they keep taking all of my money and I hadn’t been accounting for ANY of it. I was in debt up to my eyeballs and this wasn’t the first time, this was how I lived my whole existence, this was ALL I knew. What I knew now is that my husband and I had better take control of our finances and so we got to work…
Self-awareness is the key to change and ultimately personal transformation. I realized my OLD patterns of thinking are what got me here in the first place and I wasn’t aware enough or intentional enough about what I wanted to achieve financially.
It has been found that a critical component of success in the lives of the highly productive and in high achievers is that they have a high level of self-awareness or EQ. Prior to this, it was believed that one of the only paths to success was having a high IQ. Experts in this field of study now propose that emotional intelligence may be more important than IQ alone and that this path will dominate the future.
So What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of your capacity to control and express your emotions. It is the unique ability to handle your emotions maturely and with prudent judgment. Handling your finances requires you to become emotionally aware and to become conscious of your unconscious behaviors so that you can change them. If you have done nothing but spend your money for your whole life, you are going to have to observe, reflect and do some inquiry and make the necessary adjustments to get back on a different trajectory.
Your ability to adjust that habit and improve your decision-making process requires a heightened level of awareness and mental astuteness. Change can be extremely difficult and when you become aware of it, you may decide that it just too hard and not change at all. That’s not the goal here. The goal is to observe the behavior, change it and make sure it’s not a temporary ‘fix’ but a long term solution. Your ability to manage internal state and your mindset is the difference between financial success and financial ruin.
The Dreaded Attack on Debt.
In class our facilitator Chris Peach of Money Peach http://www.moneypeach.comsaid, the first step was to save $1000. What? $1000? I barely knew how much money that was considering I had never had it all at once in one spot, I only knew I had to pay back $1000 and more to my credit cards. So, my husband and I started the financial journey. He had been a good saver, so he had the $1000 already. Yippeeee! Step one accomplished without much resistance, not yet anyways!
I suffered from some credit card withdrawals, I could barely let go of my rewards credit cards without a bit of a fuss. I had all of the popular ones, gas, mileage, frequent flyers, cash back, you name it, I had it and between the two of us, we had 5 open credit cards! I don’t know about you, but it was time to have a plastic ectomy! We grabbed some scissors with the rest of our classmates and we consciously chose to cut them ALL up. I could finally start to taste financial freedom instead of debt enslavement.
I shed a tear or two, it was hard, we had 13 years together and now I had to let them go? My subconscious did not like this radical change, it felt unfamiliar and unsafe. But despite the resistance, I pressed on. And alas, we survived it and now we haven’t had a credit card for almost a year and it feels AMAZING and very rewarding indeed.
Goodbye, Broke and Enslaved Life, and Hello Having Money Again!
That new future looked far more appealing than my old tragic way of thinking and living. I had always BELIEVED that credit cards were for EMERGENCIES, and then it turns out that I kept living my life like it WAS an emergency and I had racked up my credit cards over and over and over again, no wonder my credit score was awesome because I was excellent at paying back debt. I was in the high 700’s. Almost too good actually, it sickened me….. If I was so good at paying back debt, deep down inside, I knew I could be good at saving too! I just had to CHANGE my mind and shift my perception.
We attacked our debt from smallest to largest to gain momentum and we were so excited and surprised at how quickly we were able to do it, especially when you work together and face your challenges. My husband and I made a good team and as you gain momentum, you gain some short-term wins and this is really a great confidence builder as well. It started to become a game. How quickly we could pay off ALL of our debt. This game was fun and the banks were no longer winning against us because we started to WIN.
You have to Want it.
My husband and I WANTED to get out of debt so badly, that to the exclusion of everything else, we stopped going out to eat, stopped buying new clothes and luxury items and stopped going out to social events. Our desire to be debt-free far outweighed our desire to go out. Was it hard, YES! Did it suck from time to time, YES. But in the end, I wouldn’t change it for a thing! No more Lululemon, no more fancy salon visits, no more manicures and pedicures, NO, NO, NO. Sorry, you have to sacrifice a little to gain a lot sometimes, but that is just part of life and we all have to accept that at some point.
But you know what you are really saying when you say NO to all of these things? You are actually saying YES to a new life and getting closer to your new financially sound life. No longer would we be enslaved to the lender or to anyone else for that matter. Now that is saying YES! YES to a new life of abundance and YES to a new life of FREEDOM. It turns out I was addicted to saying YES to literally everything experience and every opportunity that came my way. I think I was suffering from a little “fear of missing out.”
Your friends may think you are crazy, your family might think you have gone insane, but guess what, we didn’t care! We were on a mission and we were not going to stop until all our self-inflicted debt that we had racked up was decimated.
We were motivated and it felt beyond amazing. The fruits of our labor started to emerge in results. We had started to gain such momentum we kept that intensity going for long periods of time and we could see the finish line getting closer and closer. Every dollar NOT spent on anything we didn’t need is a dollar closer to your financial freedom.
My husband worked plenty of extra overtime, I cut many corners and slashed my spending, as I am the spendy one in the relationship. I literally sold everything I could get my hands on eBay and offer up and made a quick $2000 to throw at our debt. Some of the things I sold were shoes, clothes (new and used), old phones, bikes, unused makeup, facial creams, mp3 players, snowboarding gear, a road bike, we were very serious about tackling our debt issue, no excuses! We were on fire now. I don’t believe you have to have a huge income to do this, you just have to have a will, a burning desire and make sacrifices. Anything worth doing is usually tough and takes a level of tenacity and mental fortitude. We started to exercise that mental muscle and used the word NO. We were taking our power back…. finally.
Next, we paid off both of our cars, yep, my car was last and in a few months of some serious intentional debt paying off strategy, both of our titles came in the mail!! BOOM, done and done!
No more credit cards, no more rewards points, and no more DEBT! We CHOSE this lifestyle and this way of life, it wasn’t always easy to say NO to everyone because we chose this type of lifestyle but it was worth every second because we actually OWN everything and make NO payments to anybody!
Being debt free was such an elusive idea for me, I didn’t think that it was even in the realm of possibility for us.
From January 2015 until July 2015, we paid off $39,000 in consumer debt. We paid off 2 cars and 5 credit cards. Phew! It was hard, it took a lot of discipline and a lot of mental fortitude but it is oh so worth it in the end and it feels AH-MAZING. And guess what, NOW, WE ARE DEBT FREE!
Finding Confidence Again.
“Spiritual maturity is the ability to delay pleasure” Dave Ramsey. I had nothing to show for my financial existence but a whole pile of debt and a whole pile of crap called ‘stuff.’ It is amazing with a little moxie and a little mental grit what you are capable of if you just take a leap into the unknown and just get down and dirty and do it.
We now live our lives from a completely different mindset. A confident, organized and prepared mindset. A mindset equipped for financial freedom and success and it feels better than amazing! There is no better feeling now is there? Knowing you can sustain a financial emergency, knowing that your car cannot be repossessed by the bank and knowing that you can WIN with money and manage it responsibly.
Being broke is a mindset, being lazy is a mindset, being motivated is a mindset and having financial freedom is a mindset. I had lived my whole life in the broke mindset and I refuse to go back. No rewards points, cash back or marketing gimmick or manipulation is going to seduce us into ever having credit again. We only pay cash and only buy what we can afford. What a concept, buying what you can afford!
Telling your money where to go and having confidence in your economic life is liberating and I look forward to accomplishing so much more instead of being afraid of what is going to happen next, it takes a level of intention to do so as well. If you aren’t intentional about your decisions in life, you will keep having a mediocre life, yuck, who wants that when it only takes a few steps and some significant changes to have an extraordinary life. Your financially free life is only a few conscious decisions away. When are you going to choose it?
Make Your Money Work For You
You see, tracking exactly how much you get paid and how much you spend is absolutely imperative if you are going to WIN with money. When we started telling our money exactly where to go, after paying off all our debt, we actually had money, can you believe it? I was no longer feeling the brunt of living paycheck to paycheck and we actually owned our cars and we stopped giving the credit card companies our hard-earned money.
When other people made fun of us and asked us why we wanted to climb that mountain? And why would you take that silly class and risk not having instant gratification? And why would you delay pleasure when you can have it all now? You NEED a credit score and you NEED a credit card, what about emergencies? We didn’t care what other people thought about us, we just wanted to change our life and didn’t take their opinions personally. This is our life and our choice. This is what WE wanted.
The debt was what got me and us into trouble in the first place. When you know exactly where your money is going you can adjust all of your obligations and see what it is you really NEED and if those expenses need to be obligations or if they are merely wants.
You increase your headspace so much, and it allows you to see more of what behaviors you need to modify and change in order to get to where you want to go. It is a fantastic feeling to be confident when it comes to money. It used to be that thing that eluded me and having stopped the siphon of broke is what propelled me into a future of financial confidence and liberation.
Do you really want to be part of the 70% of Americans that still live paycheck to paycheck? Does it feel good to be broke all of the time and live the façade that you need all of those things you can’t afford? I was so excited to say, that we no longer fell into that category. Average, what the heck is average anyways? Average is boring, it sucks and it isn’t good enough. If the average is normal, then I want to be abnormal and weird. People can make fun of me and my envelopes stuffed with cash but who cares? I don’t take what they do or say personally and just move on.
I don’t know about you, but who wants to live a BROKE and destitute life? It utterly sucks and it feels like purgatory, not some of the time but ALL of the time. You are nothing but a financial slave and you don’t even get to dictate any of your life’s decisions. One of the BEST things that my husband and I did was get out of debt and started paying with cash.
Fancy that, only buying what you can afford, what a concept. Get out your own way, who cares what other people will think because guess what, you have started to figure it out. You have found the golden ticket to becoming financially free and debt free.
Winning with Money.
If we can do it, anyone can do it! It is as simple as taking the first step in your journey to a place where you may have never gone. Trust that you CAN do it and know that you are meant to live a life of abundance and freedom! The only thing we have left to pay is our family home and we are working on paying that off in 10 years, not 30, yes, 10 years or less.
There is nothing better than to live a liberating monetary life. Knowing that you can accomplish anything, knowing that you can get through any emergency without the usual stress is amazing and I wouldn’t change using my envelopes and budget for anything. “When the nobility of your goal is BIG enough, you will overcome the pain associated with not giving into instant gratification.” Dave Ramsey
Be Free and WIN with money. This is not a sprint to the end, this thing called “money” journey is just the beginning.
When are you going to start your journey to financial freedom?