“If only I made more money.” “Life would be so much easier if there was just more in my paycheck.” “I would love to have enough to not have to worry about money.” Let’s be honest. We’ve all made these comments before. Just like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”. He sang “If I were a rich man, Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.” It all sounds great. Unfortunately, every last one of them is a lie!
The mantra that I tend to repeat over and over in my classes is that “It is NOT about how much you make so much as how you take care of it.”
I know, those are nice words and all. But really? This is real life. It’s just not like that. Right?
I spoke with a lender here in town within the last year. They had just had a client come in who could not qualify for a refinance of their mortgage. If only they made a little more money, right? But their income was about $75,000 PER MONTH. That’s right, I meant to put that many zeros in there. Turns out their credit card debt was so incredibly high that they just couldn’t make the numbers work for the refinance or their budget.
We had a client come in with a monthly income of about $10,000. They were behind on their mortgage, credit cards, medical bills, and payday loans. And I can assure you that their mortgage was NOT a major portion of their debt.
I was talking with an insurance rep who shared a story about a family who couldn’t afford any life insurance on themselves to protect the family (with multiple children) should one of them pass. They just had too many other payments with the mortgage, the car loans, the loan for the sport court in the back yard, the loan for the really nice camera lens so they could take photos of their kids playing their sports….. Apparently they had other debt as well, but I kind of got hung up at that point.
Now I’m a hobby photographer and I totally get the value of a really nice lens or three. But taking a loan to get one? Especially when it’s not business related? Really?
This is when we come back to “It’s not about how much you make so much as how you take care of it”.
I’m going to keep this one really short today and just let those few doses of reality sink in on you…. along with this one.
Friends of mine who have given me permission to share their story live as such:
They are both retired, although he works a little part-time for something to do and for some extra pocket money. They are completely debt free, have a new Corvette in the garage, give more than 10% of their income away to offerings and donations, and are DEBT FREE.
It must be a great retirement plan, right? He retired from the Air Force with an ANNUAL retirement income of $20,000. They each worked a part-time job after that, although she is now retired from that too. They are happy and DEBT FREE.
How? Instead of a big house with a mortgage, they bought a trailer. It’s a double-wide, and a nice one, but it certainly cost less. If they want to spend on something extra, they save up and pay cash so that they pay no extra to a lender in interest. They made some intentional choices and also realize there is a lot more than just ‘stuff’ that makes them happy.
In short, own your situation. Be intentional about the financial choices you make. Realize that spending in one place is probably going to mean you say ‘no’ to something else. Is that worth it according to your priorities?
If you aren’t comfortable with the road you’ve traveled financially, there’s no time like RIGHT NOW to make a turn. It may take time to get to your destination, but you’ll never get there if you don’t start heading in the right direction.
If you aren’t sure about getting there yourself, or aren’t even sure which route to take, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can help. Out clients have made some great journeys and it has been our pleasure to travel that with them. If you would like some help, you can either schedule an appointment online or call us at 605-330-2700.
written by Breck Miller
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net