The purpose of the “The 4 Horsemen of Personal Finance” series is to arm you with what I consider to be the keys to overcoming your financial fears.
To recap, they are:
1. Attitude is Everything
2. Debt Will Drown You
3. Budgets Are Your Friend
The fourth and final “Horseman” is the most important. Without it, the previous three don’t matter.
4. Have Faith
Good things take time. Once we make the conscious, committed decision to improve our lives by becoming more financially stable, we must not become easily frustrated and stray from the path. It will not happen overnight. For people like myself, remaining patient for the duration of my financial journey is something I struggle with every day regardless of what stage you are in on your financial journey. Again, we live in an age when everyone wants (and expects) instant gratification. Staying patient as you make a major life change is never easy. To borrow a line from Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own,” “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”
The true test becomes what we do with that frustration. Rather than becoming discouraged and falling off the wagon, we need to learn to harness our frustration by transforming it into action. For example, if you have $10,000 of credit card debt and only a $300 surplus each month after you pay all your bills, you are going to need almost a year and half to pay off your balance (assuming your spending stays the same).
Do this for several months, and I’m willing to bet you will quickly become discouraged at just how slowly your debt is shrinking. This is something that everyone deals with. The solution however is to get motivated to make it shrink faster. Reduce your cable package. Carpool to work several times a week. Bring your lunch to work. Cut out the trips to the mall. Stop wasting food. There are endless ways we can reduce our spending.
The big picture here is that if we start making conscious efforts to reduce our debt, cut our expenses, and to build wealth, with enough practice and repetition we will slowly begin to transform as people. Bad habits will eventually be replaced by good habits, but you have to stay committed and give it time. Ultimately, it comes down to faith. If you believe that the sacrifices you are making now will be rewarded with long-term peace and happiness later, you are on your way.