By Guy Hatcher
As a young man, my first real job was throwing a paper route in a small Texas town. Every day except Sunday, I would roll 110 papers and pedal off in the distance to deliver the news to waiting neighbors.
My reward was $60 a month. I utilized it to purchase my clothing and any entertainment I might possibly desire. I remember, as I got older, how I desired to have more money as my expenditures outpaced my income. A conversation I had with my mother on one particular day all those years ago instilled a financial principle I still cherish today. She simply told me, “Guy, you either have to make more money or spend less!” Some people would paraphrase this and say “You must live within your means.”
Let me ask you this question, if it can be a challenge to make more why is it so difficult to spend less? In answer to this question: there are three reasons as to why I believe people struggle to achieve “more”:
- Many people are controlled by emotions – The first step in learning how to spend less is to become aware of your actions and disciplined in establishing boundaries so your emotions no longer drive your purchasing decisions. The truth is we have all experienced emotions of sadness and disappointment, yet as desperately as we may try to forget these feelings doing so often proves difficult. Too often we instantly look externally for ways to soothe our emotional pain rather than focusing internally and addressing the real problem at hand. One way some may deal with these emotions is to spend frivolously on clothes, unique experiences, vehicles, or even expensive play toys. The justification becomes, “we deserve it.” While the purchase may initially help to soothe our pain for a it is quickly followed by a sickening feeling called buyer’s remorse. The best option is to set spending boundaries and recognize impulse buying will not fix emotional pain.
- Marketing motivates us to purchase – Companies spend millions of dollars on product branding and messaging with their goal being to communicate directly to our purchasing desires and “assumed” needs. Their hope is to convince you by buying their products your physical appearance will improve, social class will be raised, and you will ultimately achieve a higher level of success. As you become a better manager of your finances by setting responsible spending boundaries you will begin to measure each purchase you make against the boundaries you have set in place. You will discover quickly the days of making spontaneous purchases are long gone. As you develop healthier spending habits you will no longer be influenced to make quick purchases by savvy marketers who prey on spenders who exhibit unhealthy buying habits. You now control your financial destiny rather than leaving it in the hands of the marketing piranhas.
- Define goals and stick to a budget- Studies have shown people who identify their goals more successfully achieve them. The individuals with whom I work have achieved financial stability by first determining their budget by recording and evaluating their monthly expenditures. The success secret to any financial plan or budget is found in the measurement of goals. Once each goal is obtained establish a responsible reward system for having reached it. The reward could simply be a special date night or a cookie baking party for the family. It need not be expensive or extravagant as that defeats the overall goal of achieving financial freedom through establishing strong financial boundaries.
The secret to this financial principle is implementing discipline into your financial life. The writer of Hebrews gives us great insight into what exactly results from a life lived with discipline.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)
It takes discipline to become aware of your emotions, not be swayed by the savvy marketers who prey on impulse buyers, and to set goals while living within a budget. When I was young, the pain seemed unbearable as satisfying my “wants” was always greater than just meeting my “needs.” With a few gray hairs and wisdom, I am beginning to understand in every area of my life including my finances discipline is my friend. It is through discipline, blessing, a harvest of righteousness and peace are ultimately found.
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” Jim Rohn.
Guy Hatcher – known as The Legacy Guy – has spent his lifetime helping families plan their legacy. His new book, Your Future Reflection: How to Leave a Legacy Beyond Money, is now available at amazon.com. Follow him on twitter @guyhatcher or contact him at www.guyhatcher.com.