This is a guest post by Stacie Mahoe of Crazy Mom Life.com.
“The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.” – Ellen Glasgow
Just the other year I got a kick in the pants and realized I was acting like a 4-year-old.
My husband and I earn more than the national average household income and yet we still felt broke, lived paycheck to paycheck, and had no idea where all our money was going.
We were stuck in a financial rut with our wheels spinning but getting nowhere.
It was stressful. The money we made only provided temporary fun and happiness.
Overall it was draining and major source of stress in life because we didn’t have control over it.
Seeing how much we made the during previous year at tax time was actually kind of depressing because each year we’d wonder, “Where did it all go?
What do we even have to show for it? Why do we still feel like there’s never enough?”
I didn’t really know the answers then, but I sure know them now. We made stupid decisions. We were disorganized, self-indulgent, and acting like 4-year-olds instead of like full-grown adults.
Neither one of us had ever been very spoiled growing up. So when we got to a point in life where we had disposable income, we had no clue what to do with it so things got a little out of hand.
Okay maybe a lot out of hand.
We did foolish things. We bought almost whatever we wanted. We never even thought to formulate some sort of plan for the money we made. We never really needed one before.
Paychecks came in and we just sort of flew by the seat of our pants.
I mean, we had a general idea of how much we needed to pay bills, keep the lights and water on, and pay our mortgage, but other than that we just spent it when we wanted, however we wanted without ever really thinking it through.
Sometimes we didn’t even bother making sure we actually had the money to spend because we knew more would be in the bank next pay-day.
Then there were those ever-so-handy credit cards that served as our slush fund when necessary. Just until the next check came in, or so we told ourselves.
Like I said…Stupid. Disorganized. Childish.
We got caught up in instant gratification mentality and all the justifications for spending “adults” use:
I’m all grown up now, I can do whatever I want.
I work hard for my money so I deserve to get what I want when I want.
Buy now, pay later everyone’s doing it and we will have more money later (we get paid every other week after all) so we’ll just figure it out then.
Stupid. Disorganized. Childish.
This way of thinking got us into a ridiculous money jams more than once and despite our better than average income we felt more stressed about money as a 6-figure household than newly married 19-year-olds surviving off just one $10/hour income.
Something was wrong and it had nothing to do with the money, but everything to do with us.
Our attitude, our mentality, our choices, our immaturity, all the money problems we faced were our fault. Everything choice we made since the age of 19 helped land us right smack in the middle of the mess we found ourselves in during our mid-30’s.
We weren’t facing anything as dire as bankruptcy, but we were, for the first time, in a year we’d make more than any of the previous 15 years, behind on bills.
Yes that’s bills with an “s.” It wasn’t just one bill. It wasn’t just sometimes. It was multiple bills every month. Our money was all spent before it came in and then some.
We were so disorganized and overly indulgent that, even though we had enough coming in to cover bills, the money got spent elsewhere.
Then when the bills came, there wasn’t enough left. Overdraft fees every single pay period ate up $100’s of dollars each month.
This wasn’t working. Something had to change.
It was time to grow up. It was time to start saying, “No” to foolish, self-indulgent choices.
It was time to stop acting like a spoiled 4-year-old in a toy store demanding to have anything and everything right now and start living with self-control and discipline!
It was time to stop thinking past right now and start planning for, and taking steps toward, the future.
If you’re stuck in a rut, chances are you’re just like a 4-year-old sitting in a frustrating situation and crying about it, but not doing anything to change it.
If you’re not happy with where you are, you need to face the fact that YOU must do something to change it. YOU need to make different decisions so you get different results.
It was time accept that every choice you make TODAY affects your options, circumstances, and lifestyle in the future.
The same is true for other areas of life too.
Take health for example.
As fun as it may be stuff your face with all the fabulously delicious junk food readily available on a daily basis while sitting on the couch for hours watching TV, it’s simply not a good choice long-term.
How many decades do you think you can fill your body with junk and not affect vital functions within?
Each day you choose foods to eat, how much physical activity you get, and how much rest you give your body, you affect your health in the years to come.
Sometimes you have to say “No” to the selfish 4-year-old inside and give up some instant gratification now so you still have choices available later.
Yes that might mean having a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar. That might mean watching less TV and doing something to get your heart pumping.
Being reckless, overly indulgent, and undisciplined with your health now almost guarantees choices will be made for you in the future.
If you want more control and more options with what you’ll be able to eat and do in the future, you much control what you eat and do now. I know it’s a pain now, but it will help you avoid bigger pain later.
When it comes to small pain now or big pain later, the choice sounds pretty obvious. Adults choose small pain now, but 4-year-old’s don’t look that far into the future.
All they see is pain now or no pain now.
So they choose no pain now not realizing what that choice means later. Don’t be the 4-year-old.
What about you? Is there an area of life you need to stop acting like a 4-year-old in? Is there an area you need to grow up in?
Acting like an adult means figuring out what it is you want down the road, making choices, and sometimes sacrifices, now so you reap rewards later and accomplish the bigger goals you have your eyes set on.
Being a 4-year-old may be more fun now, but it’s a recipe for disaster and almost guarantees you’ll be in that same rut forever.
Start looking at the bigger picture and take the long-term into consideration when making choices today.
This alone will help you make better decisions for a happier, healthier, less stressful, more successful life outside the rut.
Guest post by Stacie Mahoe of CrazyMomLife.com where this mom of 6, going on 7, kids provides no nonsense tips and empowering ideas for busy moms.