May 29, 2008

“It’s My Life, I Can Do What I Want” – “I’m Crying” – Eric Burdon & The Animals

Posted in Finances, Inspiration tagged , at 11:05 pm by otherdeb

An online friend and I were discussing some upcoming changes in her life revolving around her church, and the conversation turned to how one acquires one’s beliefs. We both had experimented in the past, and finally returned to what we grew up with, and tossed around a few concepts, such as that when you have removed all the things you are not, what is left is what you are; and that unexamined belief is a scary thing.

Well, in further thinking about the second concept, it seems to me that a lot of us get into, and stay in, financial difficulties because of unexamined beliefs. Since the beliefs vary according to each person, I’m not going to go into them right now. I am, instead, going to concentrate on how we can make more conscious choices regarding our finances and futures.

It’s very easy (and very comfortable) to just keep on doing what we have always done. The problem with that is that, often, people do what they have always done and wonder why they get the same results they have always gotten. This was driven home to me the other day when a friend was writing out a check to renew a subscription to a magazine. Now, for most of us, this would not be a problem, but: 1) Her account was overdrawn and her paycheck had not dropped. 2) Even if #1 were not the case, she has no clue ever as to how much is in her account at any given time. 3) Further, she has no idea as to which creditors are going to take out how much from her account or when they will do it. I asked her why she was spending money she didn’t really have, and it brought her up short. She had not realized she was doing that. We ended up having a talk about decision-making, and how learning to stop and think and make choices, rather than running on automatic, might affect her finances.

My point is that wanting to get out of debt is useless without examining what you are doing that keeps you in debt. It’s not easy to do, and not pleasant, but it is the way to go. As with unexamined religious belief, it’s easy to just go on in the same manner you always have, but then your efforts are really empty. Even having a real desire to get free from debt is not enough to accomplish that goal. What will get you there are conscious choices.

Now, hopefully you want to know what I mean by that. I mean that getting out of debt is the result of a series of small choices, made at every step of the way. Those small choices eventually build into a major shift of your attitudes, and to more actions which further your goal.

It can be as small a decision as putting the money you might spend on a latte toward one of your bills instead, or paying off one small debt each paycheck. It can be looking to see why you make the decisions you do. It can be making a list of all the debts you owe – even the personal ones that your friends are willing to wait for years for you to get around to. Each small decision – each small, conscious choice – helps build a foundation from which to make the next one. And, each small victory is a step on the way to leading your life – not as an echo of someone else’s life – but the way you want to live it.

What are two small changes you can make in your life (or in your spending) that you think could have big effects further down the road?



  1. seerovum said,

    Sounds as if you are a fan. Are you?

  2. Ariel Cinii said,

    Getting out of debt is like steering an aircraft carrier; you have to apply gradual input and allow a long lead time before you can see anything substantial happen. Also realise that you can only do what you can do, no more. You still have to pay your current costs and live your life. Regardless, set aside a certain amount of your budget to do ONE thing you like between pay intervals; it’s like that ancient advisory about paying yourself first.

    From my Book of Sayings:
    *Chart the course of those (persons or actions) you dislike, and then choose another.

    *When faced with two unpleasant alternatives, choose a third that you’d like better.

    There, I’ve shot my mouth off; hope it helps.

  3. otherdeb said,

    @seerovum: Hi! I believe I’ve seen him guesting on someone’s finance show once, and I know I’ve heard him mentioned on a number of blogs, but I have not read his book yet, so while I can say that I enjoyed what I’ve heard and seen I can’t really call myself a fan of his at this point. Thanks for providing the URL, though. I will make sure to check it out!

    @Ariel Cinii: As always, you make good points. However, for me, right now, the thing I like best (other than writing, knitting, and making jewelry) is getting out of debt. And, as I noted this is a journey. And if you stick to your guns, you can make progress at a decent clip, no matter how small the changes you make are.

    What I’m really talking about here, though, is learning to not automatically do stuff just because it’s what you have *always* done.

    I had actually climbed out of debt twice before, but did not make any changes to my habits; therefore, I ended up back in a slightly deeper hole each time. This time, I have been learning to consciously make choices about not only whether or not to spend, but about what I want to spend for. And, because I am consciously choosing (at least most of the time — I am by no means perfect) to put aside some of the money I would otherwise spend (for example, using the library instead of buying books) I have been able to react to emergency situations a lot differently in the past. During this past year, I have had a hospital bill come up, and I have had to have my beloved cat put to sleep. In both cases, because I had been putting money aside each pay period (even though it’s not yet as much as I would like it to be), I did not have to run to friends to help me out. In fact, when I had to put Furball to sleep, the first question one friend asked was if I needed money to do so. I was very pleased that, for the first time in my life, I was able to tell him no, what I needed was not money, but comfort. Two very small, concious changes, but they have had major results, not only in my finances, but in beginning to change my relationships with people.

  4. Loan holder said,

    Very nice blog.Keep up with the good work.

  5. otherdeb said,

    @Loan holder: Thank you for your kinds words, and welcome to my little corner of the blogoverse!

  6. […] “It’s My Life, I Can Do What I Want” – “I’m Crying”… Each small decision – each small, conscious choice – helps build a foundation from which to make the next one. And, each small victory is a… […]

  7. thnidu said,

    […] “It’s My Life, I Can Do What I Want” – “I’m Crying”… Each small decision – each small, conscious choice – helps build a foundation from which to make the next one. And, each small victory is a… […]

    … is a VICTORY!

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