Has this ever happened to you?
You just finished paying off a nice chunk of debt and find your pockets are a little fuller than they have been in a while. It feels nice to suddenly find yourself able to easily afford a night out or some new clothes you don’t necessarily need.
You feel strong and empowered when you have a little extra cash and no one is calling to collect it from you anymore. But you have to be careful because this is the bait that leads to one of the sneakiest traps. I call it the sneakiest because it is actually a trap that we set for ourselves to get caught in.
It is nobody else’s fault but our own.
I’ve seen some of the most serious debt fighters fall into this trap.
After you have spent some time paying down your debt you will begin to notice something.
The pressure of debt begins to ease and you start feeling successful. And rightfully so, especially if you’ve been working hard for any length of time to get rid of that debt. You have a little more cash flow coming in to work with.
It is a lot like losing weight.
Once you’ve lost the 5 or 10 pounds you worked hard to get rid of, you might start to think you got this. You have gained control over your weight and can handle that extra piece of cake after dinner.
The same thing happens to many who have fought hard to get out of debt.
As soon as you start feeling like you have control over your finances, you risk making the same mistakes once again that got you there in the first place. A little extra spending (or cake) here and there is not going to hurt you necessarily.
And you could do this for quite some time before it finally catches back up with you, which only reinforces the idea that you are able to control things.
But the point of getting rid of your debt is not simply to keep the bill collectors from bothering you during dinner. The ultimate point is to get freedom from money all together!
And yet it is so easy to find yourself being under its control once again and not even realizing where you are headed.
It’s just a new car or a little loan to cover house repairs. I can afford to go out to eat several times a week. We need a family vacation. After all, I deserve it since I worked so hard to earn that money. Besides, it’s extra money, so I can spend it.
And a little here and there won’t seem to bad, but eventually, it all adds up and once again you find yourself in the same place you started in.
It’s so easy to fall into this trap and I see it happen so many times, usually to the same people over and over again.
The thing is, you are using up all your resources all over again.
Unless you have found a way to add to your income, you still only have a set amount of finances to work with each month. It’s so dangerous to spread them so thin that there is nothing left for savings or emergencies.
Because the emergencies will come. It is just a matter of when and how, and if you are in a position to deal with them because you have prepared yourself or if this will become a financial crisis that sends you straight for the trap.
Being financially tapped out is a feeling that will leave you in a constant state of stress. If you are not prepared, one major crisis situation will bankrupt you.
Why do the same people find themselves in this cycle over and over again?
I believe that the answer is in learning to Change Your Financial Perspective.
I encourage you to take some time today to look at how you have been handling your finances.
This is one of the main reasons why I share what I have been through here at Saving Dollars and Sense. I know I have a long way to go, but if you are like me and have made it out of the pit and down any length of the road to financial freedom, even if it is only a couple steps, then I feel it is our responsibility to light the way for those still stuck in the bottom of the pit who can’t even see there is a way out.
When I moved out with my husband I took with me many of the poor spending habits my mom had shown me, as well as picked up a few new ones involving credit cards. Unfortunately, my husband had a very similar upbringing and had learned just about as much about being financially responsible as I did.
All we knew was when you had money you spent it all, and when you didn’t you were broke.
There was never an in-between. And we lived broke a lot of the time.
It took almost losing everything before my husband and I opened our eyes enough to see that we did not have to accept the legacy of debt or poverty that our parents had handed us. In fact, we had the power to change our perspective and give our own children a whole new legacy!
We made some huge sacrifices to save our home and get out of debt.
You can read more about that here.
Today, it is not so much about how little we can spend, although we do try to live simply. But instead, it is about using the money God has given you in a responsible way so that you do indeed have more than enough to live and give to others.
I remind myself that it is worth driving an older car, skipping vacations or having a closet full of the best clothes to one day be able to live in a way that money cannot control us any longer.
This is an ongoing learning process for us. We are tempted daily to live beyond our means. But I know in the end it will be worth it to have financial freedom!