How do you feel when you think about your personal economic situation?  Peaceful? Stressed? Overwhelmed? Getting ahead? Falling behind? Trapped? Desperate? Wishing you had a rich Uncle to bail you out, or that you held a winning lottery ticket?

What starts the money mess in the first place? Let’s go back to the beginning when we start our independent financial life. For most people it’s after high school. Unless your parents paid for your college, paid for your car, and gave you a nice chunk of change to put down on your first home, chances are good you took on debt starting out. Most people take out loans to pay for college and buy their first car. Then they start using credit cards to bridge the gap between what they earn and what they want.  Once they have a student loan, a car loan, and credit card debt, they decide to buy a house. Because for some reason people get the idea they must have a house even if they can’t really afford it.  At this point, unless you have a budget and a plan keeping you on track, you are considered to be living a typical life. A typical life for many people is using all of their income to service their loans and credit cards, and to cover necessities such as food, utilities, and clothing. On top of it all there are always evolving wants such as the newest electronic gadget, more expensive name brand clothing, a newer car, taking vacations, new beauty treatments like Botox, going out to dinner, and so on and so on.  Maybe they’ll put a little into savings and a little into a 401k plan. The result is that they put themselves into financial circumstances with little to no margin and no way to fund emergencies. Wanting so many things combined with the lack of wisdom and discipline to say no, is the root of most people’s financial troubles.

Afford is a relative term. I know there are a lot of people whose definition of being able to afford something means they are able to make the minimum monthly payment. This is the kind of thinking that will keep you in a financial trap. Keep it real simple. If you can’t pay cash for something; you can’t afford it.

“Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts. If you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.”  – Proverbs 22:26-27

Have you heard some of these money lies?

  • I’ll always have a car payment (so keep leasing and buying new cars every few years because leasing is cheaper than buying. Besides I deserve a new car to project a successful image, and it is safer than a used car).
  • Until I make six figures or more I will not be able to pay off my debts and live comfortably (so I may as well keep spending like I am now until I get paid more – it’s all about earning more).
  • I’ll get a pay raise and a bonus every year (so spend as though more pay is a sure thing).
  • I’ll always have a job and income (because I have a college degree or pedigree and therefore will always be more marketable than most other people).

If you are in a debt nightmare, I suggest you explore Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University program or read his book The Total Money Makeover. It provides simple detailed steps you can start taking today to change your life forever. While attending one of Dave’s Total Money Makeover seminars along with 11,000 other people, it became very clear to me how many folks are hurting financially and are taking action to recover, get healthy, and get ahead. This was just one seminar of many he has presented across the country. It’s no wonder he calls it the great recovery. I embrace the philosophy which Dave lives and teaches – live like no one else now, so you can live like no one else later.

When you are starting out earnestly to become debt free and regain your financial stability with your Vision Plan, it may seem like you’ll never get there for one reason or another. Don’t give up, you will get there! Something powerful happens once you make the commitment to pay off all debts.  It’s like “the force is with you”. Things begin falling in place and money somehow finds its way to you. I experienced it and thousands of others have too.  It works the same when you decide to make a commitment in any area of your life.

“The line between failure and success is so fine that we… are often on the line and do not know it.  How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success.” – Elbert Hubbard

You can read more in my book, YOUR ULTIMATE LIFE VISION, a Handbook for Life, available on Amazon.com.