An emergency can trigger unusual spending. If you have no emergency fund, you will have to borrow money to solve the problem. If the debt is large it will take years of catch-up to pay it off. How would you adjust lifestyle to pay off both the debt and the accumulating burden of interest costs?
Sometimes the problem is not created in an instant, but rather over time, caused by unrealistic expectations- of your spouse, children, family and neighbourhood. It just creeps up, always manageable, until suddenly it is not.
Sometimes the problem is created by our attitude of entitlement, this destructive expectation of accumulation without striving or effort. Our next generation, our children, inherit our attitude of entitlement, and perhaps we inherited it ourselves.
The odd reality is that all of these conditions can apply to any of us, regardless of income. Because the problem is universal, an increase in income does not change the pattern. Financial stress is neither caused by nor alleviated by changes in level of income. It is a function of who we are, and our culture.
The rhythm of our culture beats around us and we move with the flow. To make changes that are internalized and lasting you have to step away from the beat.
If you have large debt you must stop spending. Not so easy. Budgets do not work for most of us. I think that budgets work for people who are comfortable with fairly rigid structure. For the rest of us, we have to seek an alternative.
A Three Month Experiment
Step One: This is a three month program that reduces most of your discretionary spending. Learning to say “no” is so difficult because our national prosperity is dependent on achieving ever higher levels of production and consumption. We are bombarded with incentives, planned obsolescence, and changing trends. So, simply list all of your discretionary items, prioritize them, and we will go through it all in the next Blog.