Change is not always an easy thing to do. When it comes to changing financial habits, it may be one of the most difficult things to do. As a personal finance educator and coach, I know the many feelings associated with the decision to seek help with personal finances. Individuals and couples come to me in desperation, fear, and excitement. Sometimes they show up to the first appointment and then ghost me on subsequent appointments.
After a few of these experiences, I started to doubt myself. Did I say something offensive? Did I present the information correctly? Did they simply not like my approach? But then I figured it out. When faced with the reality of their situation and what it would take to fix it, many people simply are not willing to do the work. They expect me to offer a quick fix– an overnight solution. There is no quick fix for years of mismanaging money and making poor decisions. Because they do not want to do the work, they continue to struggle, stress out, and live in their consequence longer than necessary. Conversely, those that press through the discomfort of sacrifice and follow their financial wellness plan are successful and they move on to live their best life.
If you are burdened by what seems like insurmountable debt or other financial entanglements and are serious about getting your finances in order and securing a better financial future, you must be willing to do what it takes to get where you want to be.
In preparation for a coaching session, my pre-appointment packet includes a questionnaire that gives me a picture of an individual’s current financial status. It also requires them to identify their goals and dreams because these become their “why” in the process. The final question asks, “What level of sacrifice are you willing to make to resolve your financial problems?” The options for answering are 1) small sacrifices; 2) some sacrifices, but I still want to enjoy life, and 3) whatever it takes. Can you guess which option is chosen the most? Most respond that they want to do whatever it takes to get out of debt and reach their goals.
The truth is, when it becomes clear that they need to increase their income or decrease their expenses, suddenly all bets are off. Some cannot bring themselves to do the hard stuff. They would not think of downsizing their home or luxury vehicle. They would not dare think of giving up shopping, traveling, eating out, or getting a second job. You see, these things have become entitlements. In the meantime, they are over their heads in debt and have inadequate savings for emergencies or retirement. Many burdened with debt want me to sign off on them getting into more debt. I am not going to advise anyone to get more debt to pay off current debt if it is not in their favor—and most times it is not. I am not going to agree that buying a new home with a 30-year mortgage when you are approaching an underfunded retirement is a good idea. And I am certainly not going to tell you that tapping into your retirement savings to remodel your home is a good thing.
What I will do is help you come up with workable solutions to get you out of debt. I will help you redirect your money (budget) so that your financial choices line up with your goals. Your plan will require sacrifice over time. When you indicate that you will do whatever it takes to clean your stuff up, then that is exactly what you must do. It is called a sacrifice for a reason. Doing the work is not going to be comfortable. You must give up some things—temporarily.
Getting out of debt requires a change in lifestyle and a change in attitude. Do not fear change. Fear being in the same place next year as you are today. Do not worry about what other people will think when you begin to say no to some things. You must have the mindset that you are on a mission, and you will not be deterred, embarrassed, or ashamed. It is going to take time. Stop running from the effort. Do the work. I promise you that when you get to that good financial space, you will agree that the sacrifices you made were well worth it.
Proverbs 28:19: Those who work their land [sacrifice] will have abundant food [prosper]. Those who chase fantasies [fulfillment through debt] will have their full of poverty.