Tough Lessons About Discipline and Your Financial Plan
I know it’s painful, but we must deal with your fault in the matter of financial choice behavior. It could be said that you refuse to be consistent, mindful, and proactive. Consistent with budget. Mindful of triggers and binge behavior supports. Proactive to order your life for contentment rather than to seek contentment in the moment. But, that’s everyone. You are not unique in this. The challenge you bear additionally is that the ends aren’t meeting for you. That makes the choices more pronounced and the situation more dyer. The good news is that taking on the blame allows you to take responsibility for your choices. You can do something to change your outcomes over time. Now remains the challenge of discipline, consistency, and patience to put in that time.
You Don’t Have a Budget
Most people think they have a budget because they have an income and they know their expenses. They take the money that they have, and they look at what they owe. They minus the expenses from the income on a sheet of paper. They have some calculations in mind when doing this. They consider that a budget. For most people, paycheck to paycheck is a problem because the individual paychecks do not cover the bills that are due on that day. Many people spend more when they have it or incur more expenses than their monthly income so that they are always behind the paycheck they are receiving.
The first things that I say to people who are looking to get their financial life on track is, “Develop a tolerance for sacrifice.” Your available tolerance for sacrifice will be the difference between your current state and financial progress. Getting ahead of your bills, making ends meet, and building a financially-solvent lifestyle is a choice to endure at least one and up to 3 months of sacrifice. It is finding places within your budget to reduce for a period.
More people that you would guess have shot themselves in the foot. They don’t have anywhere in their budget where they will allow a reduction of expenses. I remember when it was simple to cut cable channels or eating out. These days, I encounter clients who are building strong narratives for the expenses they carry even though they admit to an inability to cover them.
I have several examples. One client refused to consider a reduction in her grooming regimen, which was an average of $120 per month, because she could not go without getting her hair done. Others would not reduce by taking their kids out of gymnastics, dance, or football for a season though it would create financial solvency in just 3 months that would last for years. I should note that I have also encountered clients that are resistant to the idea of fundraising the money they need even for extracurriculars and private school bills for their children. I heard one parent say, “My child should not have to suffer because I don’t have the money.” I have learned not to argue.
The Problem in a Spreadsheet
It boils down to whether you can make an informed choice in the context of your financial plan. My point is that the plan must be robust enough to demonstrate the benefit of any sacrifice. Most don’t have a budget plan that has enough specificity and range.
My recent training may help conceptualize a way forward: Budgeting: Levels of Financial Literacy