Hey there- I have a tiny little rant.
I guess I'm tired of people blame shifting and finger pointing at other people for the financial situation they are in.
Today US citizens are struggling more, financially, then they have in a few decades- but I have yet to hear one person, one individual (let alone a larger group) fess up to poor personal spending. Yes, how our government chooses to spend taxes plays a large part. Yes, they should be wiser at how they spend our money. On the other hand, we live in a capitalist country- where practically anyone can sell anything and most of us (compared to many other countries) actually have a choice where most of our money goes.
So, let’s be real. Much of the US financial situation has to do with how individual citizens choose to spend their money. Let’s see...choose to pay a little extra on your mortgage, or buy the huge $2000 television on credit? (“I’ll pay it back- I promise!”)
You might say, “Well, Jessica, a lot of people are cutting back their spending right now.” That’s true; however I want to know if this is a real life change or is it simply because more people are finding employment harder to come by and thus have smaller incomes. Are we finally realizing that credit isn’t a good idea, or are we only babying our budget until we feel financially secure (“feel” being the key word here)?
Perhaps having a financial scare is exactly what we all need. Perhaps this will change our materialistic-got-to-have-it-now mentality to better planning, wiser financial choices, and stronger personal responsibility.
So…what’s my story…?
Biggest Financial Regret: Not paying my student loan off the second I finished working in Alaska and not taking the first job offered to me, but waiting for the perfect one to come along. I made excuses- “I’m applying to at least three jobs a day, they just don’t want me!” (See what happened? I was blaming someone else for my situation). The reality: I knew even then that I could have gotten a job at a bakery ½ mile from my home- I was just too prideful to take the plunge from University graduate to baker and/or cashier. Four years later- I really wish I would have. The better choice would have been to take a part-time job to pay bills while looking for the “perfect” job. I would have avoided sinking into a couple thousand in credit card debt and making no headway on my student loan.
Best Financial Choice: Taking a 13 week course from Financial Peace University at a friend’s house, with my husband. This class was not only practical, but easy to understand without making me feel like a child. The course has paved the way for knocking out our credit card debt and now tackling the big student loan. I admit, Matt and I have not been the peak of perfection since we took the course, however, it change our perspective. We looked in the mirror and said- oh, that’s right; I’m the one who got me in this mess, now I’d better get myself out.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Oh, good for you Jessica, you’re now a certified goodie-two-shoes!” If that is how you see me, well- fine with me, however you might be missing the point. Some of my hard knocks could actually help you.
Realize that life is bigger than you (the car you drive, the TV you own, and the house you wish you had) but also that your daily choices have an impact on your life and those around you. Admit, if you are in a situation like I was, you are not being responsible with your money. If you don’t know how to be responsible with it, figure it out. Take a class, check out www.daveramsey.com or learn from people who have spent a life time practicing wise financial responsibility. Allow for some failure. Most people don’t learn how to walk the first time they take a step, it takes time and the benefits are long range. Make a plan and try your hardest to stick with it, but if you lose control for a day or a week or a month, slap yourself on the hand and move forward once again. Don’t sit around having a pity-party. Finally, remember that your money (at least in my perspective) and your life is a gift- so live it with gratitude by practicing good stewardship.
I think that’s it for now.