How Skepticism Can Help You Conquer Your Debt
So, we had family game night a few weeks back. My oldest daughter loves family game night with our extended family, because our sarcastic and silly comments throughout the night keep everyone in giggles, and we always have a boatload of awesome food. What more do you need for happiness, right? 🙂
However, at the last family game night, I got a good lesson in why we need to be skeptical of what we’re told, weighing comments carefully before submitting to their message.
Trivial pursuit was the game. It pretty much always is. Unc and I are always a team, and Aunt Robie, Mom and Maddie form the other team. I always get paired up with Unc because I basically suck at Trivial Pursuit and he rocks at it. We’re a good balance, I like to say. 🙂
So, about halfway through the game, here is the question we got to read to the other team:
Why did Apollo 13 not land on the moon? It wasn’t our question, but I was SO excited!
Ooh, ooh!!! I know this one!!!!
Apollo 13 is a movie we have in our collection and watch at least once a year. It’s one of our favorites, and I’ve got the script pretty much memorized.
Damaged heat shield, damaged heat shield! I screamed inside.
Then I looked at the answer on the Trivial Pursuit card:
Apollo 13 didn’t land on the moon because there was no Apollo 13. NASA wouldn’t use it because they considered it an unlucky number.
Huh? I started to question my beliefs on the subject. Is the movie not really called Apollo 13? Is it not really based on a true story? Is the entire movie just a figment of my imagination? If I would’ve kept up on this path, I may have just convinced myself that the Trivial Pursuit card was correct and that I’d dreamt our many nights of watching the Tom Hanks movie as a family. Luckily, I got up, went to the movie cabinet, and found the movie, verifying that what I’d originally thought was indeed the truth.
Far too often in life, most people simply believe what they’re told. We believe what our parents, our teachers, our friends, or any other person who has some type of authority value in our lives tell us to be true. This can be a good thing. It can also be a bad thing, because as you probably already know, not everything we believe ends up to be true. Can you look back over your life and think of a belief you were convinced of at one time, that you now know holds no water? Likely my biggest lesson in this area is the lesson I learned, after we got ourselves into thousands of dollars of credit card debt, that stuff isn’t what makes us happy.
I used to envision The Good Life as one filled with fancy houses, nice cars and designer clothes. But when I got those things, I was (surprise!) still miserable. Eventually I learned that true happiness has absolutely nothing to do with material possessions. I find today, though, that there are still forces out there (uh-em, marketing and media, cough cough) working to get me to believe that I’ll be happy if I just have their jewelry/car/burger/beer/vacation/beauty product or whatever.
Unfortunately, these false beliefs can be a huge hindrance to a financial independence or debt payoff plan. How?
1. They might convince you to blow your budget. Just this once, right? Just this once, I’ll charge that gorgeous sweater or that video game, even though I know it’s not in the budget this month. Just this once, we’ll splurge on a few extra restaurant dinners. Just this once, we’ll………….
Just this once is a dangerous phrase which can easily cause great harm to your financial plan if you fall for the marketing ploys thrown to you hundreds of times a day. Be skeptical and don’t fall for it. Ask yourself “What do these people really want from me?” Their goal is not to bring you happiness, it’s to get your hard-earned cash.
2. They might convince you that your dream of debt freedom is unreachable. Great spirits often encounter violent opposition from mediocre minds. Albert Einstein.
If you are going to choose to get on a road to debt free or to financial independence, be prepared to encounter violent opposition from often well-meaning people who don’t want to be left in the dust when you live the life of your dreams. Yes, your dream of debt freedom might be difficult, but it is NOT unreachable. Not if you stay the course.
3. They might convince you that you don’t really want to be debt free. There are all sorts of forces out there working to convince people that they really would be much happier with loads of stuff than they would with financial independence. Don’t fall for it. As a family who is only just beginning on the road to debt free, I can assure you that the peace that comes with having a solid financial plan in place is far more gratifying than anything you could ever buy. When someone tries to convince you otherwise, be skeptical.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, when someone tells you something, it’s important not to take it as the truth until you’ve seen all sides of the story. Try it. You might be surprised at what you learn.