Imagine that you’re playing football (the American version).
You’re on defense.
Every single play, your opponent runs the ball for 4 yards, which would earn a first down every third play.
By the way, the field is 1,000 miles long.
You’re not getting the ball back for a very long time if this keeps up.
I use this football analogy partly because I live in the Southeastern United States and that’s just something we do, and that I have been thinking about how it feels to be in debt vs how it feels after you’ve gotten out of debt and started investing.
Several years ago, I had a conversation with a friend at the gym. This friend had played football in college, and described to me how it was one thing when you were getting beat, but another thing altogether when you’re getting beat and the other guys are running on you.
The way he described it, my friend said that getting run on gets in your head after awhile. When your opposition continues to run successfully over and over (and over and over) again, it can get in your head until you lose concentration, do something outside of your game plan, and give up a big play.
That’s how pretty much how any kind of debt plays with your mind when it comes to personal finance.
You watch the interest charges pile up, slowly at first, month after month after month. After some time, you abandon whatever plan you may have, or maybe “life happens,” and you find yourself further and further from your goal.
I’ve written about the feelings of being in debt on the blog before. I know what it’s like to be in a lot of debt. I went through several rounds of losing discipline, abandoning my plan, and finding myself in an even worse position than I was before.
It wasn’t until I kept discipline and periodically improved my plan that I was able to make progress and eventually get my financial ball back.
Notice that I said “eventually.”
At first, you’ll go through the financial equivalent of trading possessions in football. Your level of debt won’t get any higher, but you won’t feel like you’re really building any wealth, either. The progress will be occurring under the surface. And, before long, you’ll be paying off debt and ready to take advantages of opportunities yourself.
It’s at this point that you’ve flipped completely from the scenario I started with in this post. When you started in this scenario, you were on your heels and debt was dictating what you could do with your life. Now, you’re running your finances with confidence and ready to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.
It’s really this stark change in your attitude that makes me so passionate about wanting to help people get their financial lives in order. I want everyone to have the level of confidence going through life that I’ve found since developing a financial plan and getting on the other side of being in debt, which is being able to save and invest.
If you don’t have a cash-flow management system in place to manage your money (often called a budget or spending plan), I encourage you to get started on one. If you have a plan in place, take some time to re-visit it and see if there are areas for improvement.
No plan will be perfect. But if you have a plan in place, you’ll be on your way to financial confidence and maybe even a little wealth building.
Thank you for visiting Finunciate. Come back soon.