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How Big Is Your “WHY!”?

Over the years of coaching people I’ve seen my share of individuals/families that succeeded and won with money, but I’ve also seen the people that failed in their quest and fell back into the old habits that led them to massive piles of debt and financial ruin.

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Even when I started budgeting (some 6 years ago) in hopes of turning around my financial situation, I distinctly remember not being very serious about it. I felt ridiculous telling myself that I was going to limit my spending by not eating out as much and eliminating cable television. I felt even sillier when I tried to take creative steps to make an extra dollar by getting the best online checking account possible and maximizing my flexperks visa card.

After a few long weeks of being the butt of all my friends’ jokes, I’d had enough. Why would anybody in the world sacrifice for the fun of it?

Who truly wants to bring their lunch every day for years on end while their co-workers are enjoying the likes of Noodles & Co. or Chipotle?

Who wants to clip coupons, pinch pennies, make disciplined decisions, and be a responsible adult?

…not many people that I know. Even if you’re like I was: sure, you may sacrifice for a short period of time, but it’s highly difficult to change your lifestyle for the long-haul (which is what’s necessary to accomplish most LARGE financial goals).

What’s Your “WHY!”?

As common sense would suggest, falling back into my old, undisciplined spending patterns and poor financial habits led to the financial roller coaster that was my life: months of getting ahead and then months of serious over-spending, going into debt, late payments, and overdrafts.

While I didn’t realize it at the time – and didn’t have the epiphany until I started coaching families – the people that win with finances and the people that don’t have one very large difference: a big, hairy, “WHY!”!

Those that win have a burning desire to succeed for one reason or another. For some it may be the want to retire early or to provide the best life possible for their family. For others it may be as simple as they want to build a large emergency fund so they don’t have to panic every time something goes wrong.

After years of struggling with money, my undeniable “WHY!” was really simple: I didn’t want the fear involved with living paycheck-to-paycheck any longer. The uncertainty of what would happen if I lost a job; the struggle that it was to make ends-meet if an “emergency” (i.e. car repair) happened; the collection calls that were bound to come and the uncertainty of what retirement would look like.

I was done with it. Once I established my big, hairy “WHY!”, everything changed. I made the sacrifices (willingly) that needed to be made. I cut cable; I packed my lunch every day for 3 years straight; I didn’t eat dinner out for 1.5 years (literally); I worked 7 days/week for 50 weeks straight.

While it’s been years since I was that intense with my “WHY!”, I can say that it paid off. These days, I’m much more apt to relax a little while enjoying the fruits of our labor.

Readers: have you clearly defined your “WHY!”? Are you trying to get rich for the sake of being a millionaire, or is there a true purpose to what you’re trying to accomplish?

Jason is a financial advisor and Dave Ramsey-trained counselor that founded WorkSaveLive.com. He aims to educate his readers on a variety of financial topics while sharing his family’s journey out of $110,000 worth of debt.

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One thought on “How Big Is Your “WHY!”?”

  1. Wow. You hit on what seems to be the big determining factor between hitting one’s goals and not. Establishing the “Why” behind doing something is huge. My wife and I had $52,000 in debt and it was overwhelming. We made it a goal to pay off that debt in 18 months and we DID! Why? Because the “why” of not wanting to be overwhelmed living paycheck to paycheck was so strong and motivating that it overpowered our complacency. Great post!

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