There’s a bumper sticker that reads, “I’m starving on the salary I once dreamed of”.
Funny how that can happen – I see it all the time. People yearning for more, eventually earning more, and then being no better off than they were before financially, because they continue to spend every penny. In fact, their stress only grows, because now they have more stuff to worry about and maintain.
The stuff we buy will always eventually wear-off, or wear-out, and we are stuck with the payments and maintenance to fund those things we once dreamed of acquiring.
Clearly, there are those with so much money they can pay others to take care of their stuff for them, but even they find money doesn’t buy lasting fulfillment.
For others, they make good incomes, but they stretch it so far that their possessions eventually possess them, rather than the other way around.
As one pastor said, “when our yearnings exceed our earnings, we will always be broke”.
Thankfully, there is hope and rescue from this tail spin behavior, but unfortunately it’s rarely popular, adopted, or appreciated because it requires self discipline and restraint.
Book after book, and seminar after seminar have repeated a simple truth – in order to achieve financial freedom for most people, the first step is learning to live beneath our means.
This is not popular because we like immediate, rather than delayed gratification. We want it now for “tomorrow we die,” as the saying goes. The problem is when we can’t pay for tomorrow because of what we spent today.
Tomorrow will come and we don’t know what it will bring. Therefore, we must learn balance in our financial behavior. I always recommend for people who genuinely want to know, and are willing to work hard to get their finances in order the habit of 10 percent. This is a behavior I work hard to instill in my kids as well, and I see how hard it is for them to actually do, much less adults; but the 10 percent habit is simply beginning to save at least 10 percent of what we make, giving 10 percent away to charity, and living on the rest within a budget.
Why do this? Giving helps keep us from a hoarding mentality, and generosity has been proven to help reduce stress and elevate our levels of joy.
We need savings because we never know when those rainy days and emergencies will come – but they do will come. So, a savings plan is wise.
Then, living on the rest within a sound budget is restorative. This means if we don’t have the money to take that third vacation, buy that new boat, car, and/or second home – then don’t. It keeps us from exceeding our earnings.
This is where others might be thinking, I wish I could afford just one vacation! This is also where our principal comes full circle. For those who begin to make the money they once dreamed never learn these simple money disciplines, they soon discover they are still broke.
So, it’s valuable to begin learning and practicing these principals now – and the power of good financial stewardship can begin contributing to a healthy and less stress fueled life.
A person can make a million dollars and spend every penny – leaving them stretched financially and stressed emotionally – for income doesn’t make a person rich. Another can make a modest income, save, budget, and live within their means and achieve a level of wealth the person making a million never could. This is because they learned to control their money, rather than having their money control them.