As I’ve documented extensively during The Miracle Challenge, I’m working now on taking control of my financial life. Since I was a child, I always felt like money controlled me rather than the other way around. Now I’m ready to change that dynamic.
Over the past couple of weeks, MBE and I have talked a lot about my financial picture and how I can structure my life so that I’m paying off debt and, at the same time, not feeling deprived. What I know about myself is this: when I set up a financial program for myself that is too stringent and allows me no wiggle room, I will stay absolutely committed for a few weeks or months and then I’ll feel so constrained that I’ll blow all the progress I’ve made in totally unnecessary spending.
MBE is really good with financial spreadsheets and he’s blessedly helping me make progress toward a plan I can live with. At some point in this process, a powerful mantra popped into my mind that I can use whenever I’m tempted to spend on some bright shiny object outside my budget:
“Is it more important to me to have this bright shiny thing, or is it more important to be debt free?”
That mantra could potentially become the most important tool I’ve got in making financial progress because it reminds me that I ALWAYS have a choice and I’m not at the mercy of my own dysfunctional whims.
It’s already helped in one powerful situation.
Eight months ago my cell phone contract ended. I’ve remained in an out-of-contract state for that whole time because I couldn’t figure out what I’d rather do: get a smart phone (another bright new shiny toy) or cut my bill in half and get a less sophisticated phone and plan. It has been such a significant dilemma that I kept myself in a state of complete inertia. FOR EIGHT MONTHS.
The other night I asked myself – would I rather have a smart phone, or would I rather be out of debt?
Put in those terms, it took me all of 3 seconds to make a decision. I’d rather be out of debt. Period.
So I’ve got a tool and I’m close to having a program. I’m in a lot better shape than I was a month ago when I started the Challenge!!