Wow..it is just too tempting for most of us to live beyond our means. Credit cards, payment plans, the lure of the bigger flat screen TV!!! Working hard to pay our bills soon becomes the daily mantra and a country song in the making. We live a little nicer lifestyle than we can afford but we deserve it right?
The sad reality is that when we go down this path we often end up becoming an indentured servant living our lives to one day escape the relentless grip of debt. I love the quote by J. Reuben Clark Jr. made in 1938:
“Interest [on debt] never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours. … Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.”
I am familiar with debt, having used it to acquire real estate, businesses, homes, vehicles and other things that I thought were important. I have provided a nice living for my family. It has seemed to work for me as long as time was not an issue. However, as I grow older I begin to see that time may be an issue. I see the great task before me before I die is to focus my efforts on getting out of debt. This is easier said than done.
A recently married couple sought counsel on where they should invest their money. My counsel to them was to save their cash and protect it. Do not lend it. Do not make a bad investment decision with the thought that there is more cash where that came from. I simply tell them that most of the world is working to get back where they are right now…no debt with cash in the bank…I know I am.
Do you need that purchase you are getting ready to make? Can you get by without it? Can you stop using that credit card or at least keep the balance to zero each month. It is hard for most families to keep a budget but it can be done. A very wealthy friend, after he lost all of it, told me how humbling and hard it had been to go through this experience. He then told me how liberated he and his wife had become to live on hardly anything each month. He was excited about how they could manage with one car and how he worked to reduce their home electric bill. They got rid of their credit cards. They just stopped spending money and it was liberating for them. There was a part of me that wanted to join them as he told me about this experience.
You have the freedom to choose to live beyond your means but it soon means you’re beyond living in freedom and your choices become limited.
The HighFive Your Life principle is to live within your means and protect your cash. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have all the time in the world to lose it and get it back. Protect it. Be careful with it. Try to avoid debt if possible. Be wise. Be steady. Live with less. Keep your freedom.