The main reason I started our debt-free journey was out of fear. The fear of not having enough to make choices on my own terms or without the influence of money. That changed when I learned to reconnect with my why.
As you can imagine, fear is a terrible source of fuel but it can serve as a great firestarter. This fear evolved over time. Soon after, my why for wanting to master my personal finances was to feel the freedom of choice to take epic risks in life, live spontaneously, and never feel as if money influences who I am as a person or what I choose to do.
If you’ve always said you want to get better or make a positive change with your money, why haven’t you done it yet? Chances are you don’t have a strong enough why to spring you into action.
If this is the case, I hope the rest of this article helps you find that fire within. Because if your financial choices are not aligned with your values, no amount of money in the world will make you happy. The path usually starts with you getting out of your own way.
Change the invisible script that’s holding you back
When you think about money, what internal story plays in your head? These are what Ramit Sethi calls invisible scripts that wreak havoc on your progress.
While invisible scripts relate to more than just money, the invisible scripts focused around money are often associated with less than ideal financial outcomes, financial behaviors, and other aspects of financial health. Oftentimes, these are handed down from our family members and stem from childhood experiences that we carry with us.
Have you ever found yourself stating any of the following? Here’s just a few.
- I work hard, so I deserve this nice apartment!
- Everybody has debt so what’s the problem with putting everything on credit cards?
- I have a real job now so I’ve earned this new car!
- I’ll never be able to afford XYZ so what does it matter how I spend my money?
- That works for them but that will never work for me.
- It must be nice! They get all the breaks!
- I’m young and want to do all these things so I can put investing/saving off until later.
- Money is the root of all evil and having a lot of it is selfish.
- Wealthy people are greedy and corrupt. There is virtue in living with less.
If any of these scripts play in your head, it’s time to challenge them. You’ve grown as a person since you first heard these, haven’t you? Do you really believe these? When’s the last time you stopped to think about your own attitudes about money not what was handed down to you?
Becoming wealthy is a conscious choice that you must make. Stop complaining about not being able to do something when your actions don’t support what it is you want to do.
It takes small change
Choose to get 1% better each day or week, not unrealistically better in a short amount of time. Instead of overwhelming yourself with many tasks in the beginning, spread your lessons over the course of a week to give yourself space to think. It might not seem like much, but those 1% improvements start compounding on each other. Make them positive. Do the pre-work.
Try starting a money journal or an internet article bookmark folder related to money. Write down one thing that interests you about money, relevant or not to becoming debt-free. Save just one article a day to read each day of the week or bookmark a couple to read at a set time on a set day. Try batching about 30 minutes to an hour of time, to go over some of the stuff you’re trying to understand. Then on Sunday, reflect on what you took away from these and figure out how to work it into your financial strategy, whatever it is. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. These tiny actions over time will lead to a rich life.
I truly believe that the following things are really all you need for an epic financial life.
- Invest 10-15% of your income
- Spend less than you earn (i.e. budget)
- Avoid big debts over time
- Budget/save/spend for beautiful experiences vs. stuff
- Grow as a human to earn more and live simpler
If you are already committed to doing these things, it’s only a matter of time until you make progress. If you’re doing these things and not progressing, think back to your invisible scripts. Find ways to implement these things however it best fits you. Plain and simple.
Remember F-U Money
There is this concept of F-U money that I absolutely love and relates well with freedom of choice. To illustrate this principle in a fun way, I’d like to share an outstanding must-watch YouTube clip from JL Collins, financial expert and author of the Simple Path to Wealth (one of only two books I’d recommend relating to personal finance).
In the video, he replaces himself with John Goodman from the movie The Gambler and edits the script for the topic. It’s absolutely fantastic and hilarious.
It’s a no-bullshit way of telling you exactly what to do similar to what’s highlighted above.
Reconnect with your why
I’m slowly learning that solutions only start to present themselves when you take action towards what you want. Instead of being distracted by what you’re “supposed” to want, focus instead on implementing the steps that lead to the life you really want.
Freedom of choice is not about buying stuff. It’s about being able to make a decision not out of fear, but in a way that supports who you are. Don’t you want to be in the position of F-U? Try that as your why the next time you think about swiping your credit card for something you don’t really want.
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