Priorities. We all have them whether we want to admit it or not. Sometimes our priorities are more than admirable and other times there are reasons we don’t want to admit that something is a priority for us. We regularly have to make choices and those choices usually follow a pattern – our priorities.
I’ll admit that I really don’t like driving around town. Road trips I usually really enjoy, but if it is around town I probably have somewhere else to be and other things I could be doing and the other drivers are just holding me up. Argh! And with all of that comes my penchant for going a little over the speed limit. Yes, I’ll admit it – I speed. Not usually more than 5 miles per hour over the limit, but none-the-less over the posted speed limit.
You are probably chuckling at this moment about my guilt over such a minor infraction. Have you driven in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area lately? EVERYONE speeds. And by speed, I mean at least 10 over the limit. My measly 5 mph liberty really isn’t that much…. is it? Regardless of how much, I am over the posted limit and therefore am breaking the law. By rights, I have put my schedule as a priority over following the law. If you have spent any time studying ethics and the law, you know that they are almost always established to protect the safety and well-being of the public. Now, you all know what we think about the criminals out there. So how many of you are fellow speed limit criminals like me?
Priorities. We all have them whether we want to admit it or not. Rather than ignoring them and placing the blame on someone else, I would encourage you to evaluate your actions, your choices, and your priorities. Think critically and honestly about it. It’s OK, I’m not going to show up on your doorstep and evaluate your priorities with the Priorities Police standing behind me. Just be honest with yourself. This will help you identify why you do what you do and how you got where you are. And that, my friends, is potentially the beginning of a whole new reality for you.
What are your financial priorities? Do you want to save up for a down payment on a car or home? How about pay off your student loan or credit card debt? At what age would you like to retire? These are the priorities that we are usually willing to own and even proclaim.
And then life happens. You know, you have one of those days where you get in your car after work and realize there is nothing made for supper. You all need to eat but you don’t really have the time or energy to make something for the family. “Eh, let’s just go out and grab something.” We have all been there.
So there is a $40-$50 bill. Only once week and that still adds up to $200 per month. Personally, that is more than my monthly car payment. Remember earlier when I talked about critically and honestly evaluating what you do and why you do it? One could easily discern that avoiding a little effort in the kitchen (not preparing supper) is a bigger priority for you than paying down your school loan debt or saving towards a new home.
BUT WAIT!!! Before you totally tune me out, I understand that life happens. Yes, my family has debt. Yes, my family has things we need to save up for. And yes, my family does still occasionally go out to eat. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have anything enjoyable or spontaneous in life. I am, however, encouraging you to take just a moment of thought before those impulsive expenditures to consider them in the context of your bigger financial picture – in the context of your other priorities.
There will be times you decide to continue on with your activity. There will also be times when you change your mind about that seemingly insignificant little purchase. But, as I have talked about in other blog posts, all of those insignificant little purchases can quickly add up to a very significant amount of money.
Are you using your money the way you really want to? Is spending your money really helping you move forward in the big picture of life? Will you ever get where you want to be by moving the direction you currently are? I truly hope so.
Priorities. We all have them whether we want to admit it or not. It is entirely possible to adjust your priorities. More importantly, it is entirely possible to adjust your behaviors to meet those priorities. It just takes some intention and attention. Spend some time thinking critically and honestly about what you are doing. Why are you really doing those things?
If you would like some help working through your financial priorities, the LSS – Center for Financial Resources counselors would be more than happy to listen, suggest options, and perhaps even provide just that little bit of accountability you may need to achieve your dreams. One thing they will not do – call the Priority Police on you. We don’t have them on speed dial or even have their number written down anywhere. Regardless of which of our 7 locations you visit, the Priorities Police have never set foot in our doors.
written by Breck Miller
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net