Sunday, November 2, 2008

Common Problems Part 3: Lack of Self-Discipline

I've been here too. In fact, this is where most problems begin. This is when you have no control over how you spend where you spend or how you spend it. A lack of self-discipline usually spills over into other areas of your life, and is debilitating to gaining ground in most endeavors. The Army fixed this problem for me, but I'm sure there are easier solutions than enlisting. Most of us don't even realize we lack self-discipline until it stares us right in face after some major life altering event. Either way, yoiu need to get this in check before proceeding.

Common Problems Part 2: Keeping up with the Joneses

Boy does this one get a lot of us! It's also called maintaining the social norm. It's based on the false pretense that the things you have are a measure of your success. Who is more successful in your mind? The family who has two cars, an expensive home, a boat and any number of other toys; but secretly would lose it all if they missed one paycheck? Or the family in a modest home, one practical vehicle, no toys, however this family has no debt, and could weather all but the worst of financial storms with the money they have saved.

I know, I bet that first family has a lot of fun. But can you imagine the stress they feel every time there's rumor of layoffs at their jobs. Or when they look at the amount of debt they owe, and how long it would take to pay it off? Maybe this is you, Overwhelmed with the mess you found yourself in, and despaired because you can't find your way out. There is Hope for everyone, but don't think it comes without cost. Everything has a cost. Pride will be swallowed, and I know it's not easy.

One thing to keep in mind, 99% of all those people who seem to have everything, and are wealthy and successful are living a lie. They are up to their nose in debt, and will likely die in debt, and will leave their debt to their children. That is of course, unless they make a drastic change in their lives.

Common Problems Part 1: Can't Say No

Here is a very tricky situation I found myself in when my wife and I first started managing our finances: My wife couldn't say no. You see when we first married we had made a decision for her to raise the children, and manage the household, while I went out and earned the money. She did a wonderful job at everything, except managing money. She could never tell me no even though she knew that the things I wanted we could not afford. The turning point was on my birthday one year. I had been needing a new radiator for my truck (I'm a car guy). I had found a very nice scratch and dent model at a local radiator shop for far less than one could be had anywhere else. She knew we didn't have the money, but let me buy it anyway. The next week I found out that that purchase had overdrawn our account, and that we were in the negative a little over 200 bucks. At the time that kind of money was hard to come by. I was furious! We had a huge fight, and I took away her responsibility over the finances. She thought the gift would make me happy, but instead it hurt our relationship. It was a turning point, but that radiator will not be forgotten.

The point is say No! However you must, you have to choose your families financial well-being over the whims and wants of those you love. Think of it this way, is giving in to your loved ones every request at the expense of their financial security really loving them? The answer is no, it is not. So don't fall for this trap.

If you find that you are unable to say no, please relinquish your responsibility to someone who can. You will be much better off in the future.


Investigation described simply, is drawing conclusions from observation. You should now have some observations made by looking at your monthly cash flow sheet from earlier. Did you spend Waaaay too much on dining out? or did movie rentals eat a lot of your money. Video Games for the Kids? Perhaps you have noticed some trends, does your husband always get what he wants? or do you just put it on the credit card because it seems more convenient?

Pay attention to how you spend money everyday. The situations, and what motivates the purchase. The more you observe, the better conclusions you will make. What are you triggers? When the kids whine and cry in the grocery store, do give them what they want just to placate them? Does your Husband make online purchases and forget to tell you? Observe everything.

What's Your Problem?

So after finding out where your money goes, did you think about why it's going where it goes? I had a big problem with my finances, I had no idea what I was doing with my money. So I spent it on things I thought I wanted, and racked up debt, and did what it seemed everyone else was doing, and never had a second thought of where my money went. Of course, we all now we see that this was not a sustainable plan for the all too uncertain future. My problem was ignorance. Some people can't can't say no to their Spouse or Children. Others simply haven't developed the self-discipline to manage finances successfully. I had all of these problems too, but my ignorance was a far bigger problem. That's because it muddies the water, and you can't truly see what problems lie underneath. Dissolve the ignorance first, and the other problems will become much clearer.