No, I don't really know what “chutzpah” means. But it sounds like the way I feel when I make decisions, so I'm rolling with it.
In the few short years that I went from making minimum payments on my student loans, to where I find myself now (business owner, debt free, actually having a brokerage account, positive net worth, etc.), I've learned that one of the most important things about finding success with personal finance is making decisions. Tough decisions. You know, the kind that you usually put off because the outcome might make you uncomfortable.
I'm talking about choosing the easy way that will leave you square in the middle class, or choosing things that are scary, but could leapfrog you past everyone else around you.
Should I have less fun this month and make bigger student loan payments?
Should I leave my money in my savings account because it's safer?
Should I work for the man because I'm scared to not have a steady paycheck?*
Should I drive an old car and have people think I'm not successful?
I'm sure you noticed that I underlined the word “scared“. Being afraid is what holds people back from any kind of real financial success. As a society we are scared of being different. We are scared of what could happen if we didn't make our minimum payments or drive our new cars.
We are afraid to make real decisions.
Not only are we afraid to make tough decisions with our money, but we rarely make OUR OWN decisions with our money. Growing up in America generally means that you have been subjected to the brainwashing of advertising since you were a toddler. When you see your friends celebrating their new car purchase on Facebook, do you think they made that decision? I would argue that they let Ford make the decision for them.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with advertising. My site has a bunch of it…just roll your eyes around the screen and look. At the end of the day, companies have to pay the bills just like everyone else. The problem that most people in society face is that they don't know when to bite on advertising and when to ignore it.
Do you really think that new car is going to be good for your bank accounts? Is the minimum payment on whatever you bought with your credit card the best thing for you? Probably not. If you are miserable in your job and have marketable skills, should you waste time and stick around out of fear?
I'm challenging you to make tough decisions that make you scared and uncomfortable with your finances. Make bigger loan payments next month. Keep driving that crappy car. Start educating yourself about the investing world. If you want to start a business, take the leap.**
If you feel scared, good.
Embrace it. Do you think I wasn't scared when I threw all of my money at my student loans? I had a panic attack in the middle of the night after I quit my job. My voice was shaking when I asked my boss if I could come back to do seminars at the school I was leaving. I didn't feel comfortable moving all of my cash into a brokerage account. I had to take chances, because I knew I wouldn’t go anywhere but sideways if I didn’t.
A good friend told me this once: “Make the best decision you can with the information that you have at the time, and live or die by it.”
Live differently, your bank accounts will thank me later. – M$M
*Don't just go out and quit your job all nilly-willy. You have to plan for that kind of thing!
**Seriously, have a good plan first.
Picture from Flickr.com