Change is hard. Changing our habits is even harder. Change takes effort, energy (both mental and physical) and often requires a lot of courage. I believe that making financial changes may be some of the hardest changes to make (similar to changing our eating or exercise habits!)
Henry Cloud said “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.” I repeat this quote to myself daily, sometimes several times a day as I remember why I am making the changes. In my previous post I talked about pain – enduring small pain now to avoid greater pain in the future. This often involves change.
Things needed to change
My change happened when the pain of staying the same was much more than the pain of changing. We were in over our heads. We had credit card debt, student loan debt, car loan debt, a mortgage, and just couldn’t pay everyone what they demanded. Our grocery budget was tight, there was no money left to spare. I will always remember the day: I had just done a load of laundry and was hanging my bath towel back in the bathroom after being washed. I looked at the towel. It was once a white towel. Now it was off-colored and stained and the edges were worn. And I could not afford to go and buy myself a new towel! I had two little girls to feed and started to panic. I couldn’t even buy myself a new bath towel. We were one paycheck away from disaster if a lay off happened, or a disability, or even a repair as minor as a broken dishwasher or flat tire on the car. I vowed then and there to change! I wanted to be in a better situation for myself, but even more so, for my children.
This is when the pain of staying the same overwhelmed me and I longed for change. I don’t believe change will happen until we become “sick and tired of being sick and tired” (phrase borrowed from financial guru, Dave Ramsey). It has to be an intrinsic desire for change. No one can make us change. Not real, lasting, life-altering change. This has to come from the inside, from a purpose and a reason and a drive to make the change(s). We’ve all heard the quote “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” (attributed to a few different people).
I knew that if we kept doing what we were doing, we weren’t going to get where we wanted to be. That was the day I decided to change.
After feeling the strong desire to change, how do we do it? Jacob Lund Fisker, in his book ‘Early Retirement Extreme’ says it most perfectly: “Dissatisfaction may be high and the vision of an alternative may be high as well, but without a plan, this can only lead to frustration. There must be a strategy or at least a plan, and it must be practical. To get things done, it’s much better to have a plan than to have passion, at least insofar as you act on it.”
He tells us that those wanting to change have four variables to consider:
- Dissatisfaction with your present situation.
- Strengthen your vision of your future situation.
- Build a plan to get from the present to the future.
- Lower the perceived cost of the plan.
In the next few posts we will talk about number 1 – Dissatisfaction with your present situation. We will learn about the time value of money, compound interest, what your debt is really costing you, as well as what the cost of delaying savings is.
Think about your financial situation. Are you happy with where you are? Do you have a plan to improve your situation? Do you know what your situation is? (if not, read my post about calculating your net worth first). How would you like your financial situation to be? What do you want to change? What are your beliefs about your ability to change?
Read Sister Wendy Watson Nelson’s Devotional address about change, which goes far beyond finances: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/wendy-l-watson_change-always-possibility/