I’ve mentioned many times how my first child was a revelation to me when it comes to money issues.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know that I should be spending less money, I just never had the internal motivation to make good financial choices. When I realized what I had to gain from turning my decisions around – and what I had to lose by not turning the decisions around – it really lit a fire under me.
Recently, I received a comment from a reader named Aya:
its hard for a twenty-something like me, and probably others, to wrap my head around how exactly to budget and save for the future. The simple fact of the matter is that I don’t have a family to support or a house I’d like to buy, and not having been hit hard with that kind of reality prevents me from saving. The author writes, “the day I realized…,” and I wonder how that revelation comes about – if only it came sooner for many people.
When I read that statement, I see myself several years ago. I might know how to spend well, but it’s not an imperative. I don’t see any good reason to do it – and the day-to-day fun desires are much stronger.
In short, Aya hasn’t had that money revelation yet, and she doesn’t know where it might come from since she doesn’t yet have a family to inspire her (as I had).
How can a person find that revelation without a family? Here are some suggestions for finding your own revelation.
Look at your real numbers. Keep track of your spending for a month or two, then compare that to what you actually earn. The difference between the two is how much you’re actually earning (or losing). Now, run that out in advance for a few years and think about where that puts you. Will you be able to afford anything? Will you be bankrupt? If you’re spending more than you earn, you are quite simply heading into oblivion. Many people, though, haven’t been “slapped in the face” with the real numbers.
Look at your dreams. Where do you want to be in five years? In ten years? Take that dream and flesh it out in as much detail as you can. What would you really like to be doing? Now, every day, ask yourself what you’re doing to move yourself in that direction. You’ll often find that keeping your eye on the ball helps keep you from getting distracted by unnecessary spending.
Look at your feelings. If you’re asking serious questions about your money, that means that some element of your conscience is hinting to you that you need to make a change. Listen to that whisper. Focus in on where it’s coming from. Are you feeling guilt? Why do you feel guilt? Your conscience is telling you that there are some big negatives to the spending choices you’re making – defining those negatives and making them clear can be a true revelation.
Look at your causes. I can name at least three people very close to me who have committed their lives (at least at the moment) to social causes. In each case, their decision to commit themselves to something they truly care about was an epiphany in every aspect of their life. One of them works at a very personally challenging social work job and yet has still managed to almost fully fund her Roth IRA this year. Why? Funding that Roth IRA and learning how to live cheap makes it possible for her to continue to devote herself to that cause she deeply cares about.
What do these options have in common? They’re all about soul-searching.
Whenever you spend genuine, serious time figuring out what is truly important to you, what you really want to do in the future, and what your true situation currently is, you start to see which choices are good ones for you and which ones are bad ones – and that is the seed of any true revelation.