Are You Acting in Your Own Best Interests?

9683205509_f23e35ca06_zAs you consider your 2015 goals, this is the question I want you to ask yourself.  Are the decisions you make on a daily basis decisions that are in your own best interest?  For instance, blowing your year-end bonus on shiny stuff might sound fun at the get-go, but it is really the best thing for you?  Will you regret that shiny purchase later if you are unexpectedly laid off from your job or if you find yourself neck-deep in debt for some reason?

Many times, when we make these impulsive, “I deserve” decisions, we do it without considering our best interests.  We intend to reward ourselves with that dinner out, that new sweater, gadget or whatever, but in reality, we are chipping away at the security of our future.  Every dime you spend on an impulse purchase that doesn’t benefit you for more than 5 minutes is a dime that you take away from the things you truly want in life, such as financial security or debt freedom.

Yep, that new car feels good now, but how will it feel in 6 months when the payments start to suffocate your budget?  Or stress out your marriage?

I often hear people say “My debt isn’t my fault.  I’ve not splurged or bought myself big shiny things.”  However, they have piddled away nickels and dimes at warp speed for many, many years.  The $10, $20, $100 or $200 “it’s only” dollars that you justify spending on whatever you think you need this week adds up to big, big bucks.  I encourage you to look back at your tax returns for the last 5, 10 or 20 years.  Look at your income for each of those years.  Can you recall where any of that money went?  Most people can’t.

I say this not to condemn, my friends, but out of a heart that longs for a better life for those struggling with money.  We struggled with money for 17 years of our marriage.  We’re still struggling with money, because we are living on a super tight budget as we work our way out of mounds of debt – debt that occurred because we didn’t live frugally or fiscally responsible from the start of our marriage.  If we had, we’d be debt free and wealthy right now.  But instead, we piddled away lots and lots of nickels and dimes, all the while convincing ourselves that we were being responsible with our money.

But the difference is that now there is light at the end of the tunnel.  We have a plan, and the plan is working.  I want you to have a plan and work that plan so that you can end the days, weeks, months, years and decades of money (or the lack of it) having a stranglehold on your relationships and on your life.  I want you to have to not worry about money anymore.  I want those little emergencies such as car repairs or house repairs to be “no big deal” to you because you’ve got no debt and a plush savings account, because the peace that financial stability brings is amazing.  I can feel it now, even though we’ve got a long way to go to reach our own debt freedom day.

Haven’t you spent long enough being a slave to lenders, my friends, and being a slave to your job?  You deserve so much more.  You deserve Financial Peace . So my challenge to you today is to make 2015 the year in which you make every decision a decision that is in your own best interest.  That you do what’s best for yourself, not from an “instant gratification” perspective, but from a big picture perspective.  Try it, and see just how good it feels.

53 comments

  1. I’m really thinking even longer and harder about purchases these days. Will that “thing” bring added value to my life? If so, that purchase might make the cut, but I do think I’ve been that nickel and dime girl. It all adds up, but I used to spend it so mindlessly. Every time I make a mindless purchase, I rob myself of a safe, secure, and stress free future.

    • Laurie says:

      We are on the same track, Tonya. The time has come to get serious about what we spend and what we put to better use instead. Glad you’re on the road with us. 🙂

  2. I’m in! I’ve been trying to understand some of the things I’ve been reading about in these PF blogs. The veil is lifting and it’s getting easier and easier. I used to think I didn’t belong in this community. Now I see that it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be. Love your post, Laurie. It spoke to me. 🙂

  3. The nickel and dimes get you every time. A lunch here, a new shirt there, fundraisers everywhere! The possibilities to spend those dimes are endless. We try to be Scroogeish in areas that don’t mean a lot to us and let it go when it’s meaningful;0)

  4. Love your post and totally agree with your principles, Laurie! Thanks for encouraging all of us. Perhaps the hardest part (but a necessary first step) is to distinguish what we THINK is “best for me” and what is REALLY best for me in the big picture, like you mentioned. We are pretty good at fooling ourselves!

    • Laurie says:

      LOVE the way you said that, Deb, and it’s so true!! We think we are treating ourselves with these “little things” but those little things are robbing us of a secure future. Time to stop being deceived about that!

  5. Amy says:

    Great points, Laurie! I definitely fall into that camp of having debt not because of large purchases, but because of the smaller, seemingly harmless ones, that added up over time. I think the “is this in my best interest” question is exactly the one to keep asking ourselves.

    • Laurie says:

      We’re in the same boat, Amy, and it was because the purchases weren’t big that we spent so many years in denial, saying our debt “wasn’t our fault”. There is SO much freedom now that we’ve accepted responsibility and are making different choices. Yay!!!

  6. Love this, Laurie! I see this a lot. People don’t realize all those little seemingly inconsequential purchases can add to big number when you don’t pay attention. While certainly emergencies can start the debt snowball, often times it just plain mindless spending and not always on big, shiny things either, as you point out. We definitely live in a world where can almost instantly gratify any want, so we need to be doubly mindful of how we spend our money and not get caught in the “I deserve this” mindset. I always tell my clients when they catch themselves falling into that mindset, to remind themselves what they deserve is financial freedom. I’m so proud of how far you and Rick have come, Laurie. I know this hasn’t been an easy journey but you truly are doing great.

    • Laurie says:

      Thank you so much, Shannon. Yeah, it’s been tough – really tough – but SO worth it. I love what you said about “what they really deserve is financial freedom.” That is such a better gift than those little nickel and dime things, and even better than the big and shiny things. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly, Fig!!! It’s a true deception. We think “Oh, I deserve this wonderful __________”. But as Shannon said, what we truly deserve is financial freedom.

  7. Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income says:

    Thanks for the inclusion in the article. I totally agree. One of my goals is to just keep steady going on old goals. It’s hard to be consistent over so many years. At some point I get worried that I will say, “I’ve done it for a long time, I’m going to buy this now” and then everything I’ve worked for and sacrificed is gone. One of my employees this morning was complaining about the gas mileage on his new car since he’s only getting 15-16 mpg now. Reality sure sucks sometimes compared to the excitement of the moment.

    • Laurie says:

      “Reality sure sucks sometimes compared to the excitement of the moment.” Ain’t it the truth??? I remember back in 2000, we bought a shiny new minivan. Loved that car, but the $450 payments really began to weigh on us, you know? How much more would we have enjoyed that vehicle had we saved up and paid in cash?

  8. I think it’s important to have a dual approach to improving finances. I’m a big advocate of making more money and increasing income, but that doesn’t always align with people’s time and priorities. I think you have been a GREAT advocate for living within your means and making small adjustments in spending that have big impacts long-term.

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly, DC!!! You can make all of the money in the world, but as we see often with celebrities and lotto winners, those millions can disappear just as quickly without those spending priorities.

  9. My debt was because of my “I deserve” attitude the minute I took care of that and stop being slave to my job peace arrived. I think twice when I have to spend money. I think twice of all the struggles I went through. Is not just about money but about viewing and changing the way you live. Great post, my friend.

  10. Liz says:

    I can’t wait to kiss my lenders good bye. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll hopefully have our student loans paid off in exactly a year (or maybe 14 months). Tracking our progress and debt payoff goal keeps us motivated to stick to the plan. Definitely helps keep us focused and not tempted to spend our bonuses and extra income.

  11. Lori says:

    Excellent article. We too have been there… buried so deep in debt it scared us. At the time we didn’t have the maturity to see it was a place we had put ourselves through our ‘must-have’ purchases and college debts. I am thrilled we made our way out!

    • Laurie says:

      Lori, SO happy for you guys that you made your way to debt freedom!!!! Deacon over at Well Kept Wallet loves to share debt freedom stories on his site, so if you ever want to share yours, let me know, as I’m the VA for his site. Again, huge congrats to you for making your way to debt freedom!

  12. Kathy says:

    I detected a couple of Dave Ramsey phrases in your post, Lauri, so I’ll add my favorite. Live like no one else today so tomorrow you can LIVE like no one else. That’s what hubby and I are doing now. We’ve lived in the past like no one else by sacrificing vacations, fancy furniture, expensive entertainment etc. so today we are LIVING like no one else. Retired early, debt free and planning for a new custom home to be built next year….for cash! It can be done but the priorities have to be in place. Merry Christmas and a very blessed new year to you.

    • Laurie says:

      Kathy, that is SO awesome. I think of that quote every single time we make a sacrifice. I know our kids will be happier with financially secure parents than they ever would with loads of “stuff” in their rooms. That’s what keeps us going: knowing that if we keep on this track, that soon enough we’ll be living like no one else. Thank you, so much, for being such a great mentor to me and countless others as you post comments on this site and on John’s site. 🙂

  13. Wonderful post Laurie. Glad you guys are following a plan and see light at the end of the tunnel. I also want a better life for those struggling with debt…especially my co-workers who are also my friends. He said to me recently that it was just impossible to get ahead with the debt they were struggling with. It’s sad to see such a defeatist attitude. I never like seeing someone just give up like that. Of course he also mentioned upgrading his tablet, gaming system and other things so…he doesn’t have the proper plan in place and will continue to toil in debt.

    • Laurie says:

      Thank you so much, Andrew. Yes, it is heartbreaking watching loved ones struggle with debt when you know there is a way out for them. The sacrificing of “stuff” is so very much worth the end reward.

  14. As you know, I can totally relate to this Laurie. For years, I made purchases that I thought were in my best interest, but the only people they benefited were the owners of the stores where I spent money. The last few years we have adjusted our focus and now I know what it truly means to act in not only my best interest, but the best interest of my son who is learning about responsible money habits along with us.

    • Laurie says:

      Love that, Shannon!!! It’s so often our children that help us to make wise spending decisions now, not only b/c we want to do what’s best for them, but b/c they call us out on the carpet when they don’t understand a spending decision. Love that!! 🙂

  15. Kassandra says:

    I practice conscious spending and it has been so beneficial beyond saving money. I want a lot less and already have my needs covered so I feel like I have made huge progress from the days of being a shopaholic. Enduring the sacrifices and struggles to pay off a mound of debt really taught me to appreciate the money I do earn and respect the energy/effort that it takes to make it in the first place.

    Here’s to an amazing 2015 for us all Laurie. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Well said, Kassandra!! And same here. We have a whole new perspective on money now. It’s no longer simply a tool to satisfy those cravings to spend – instead, it’s a tool that, when used wisely, can do so much more, not just for us, but for those that we give to as well.

  16. Kim says:

    I never thought we splurged on anything super fancy, but we still ended up in huge debt because we certainly were not looking out for our long term interests. I think I almost err on the opposite side now and it’s hard to really buy anything spur of the moment.

  17. Myles Money says:

    Isn’t it amazing how lots of tiny “insignificant” purchases can build up and lay waste to your finances? Particularly when it’s just bits of things here and there, you really don’t think twice, but whether you buy one big item or a hundred smaller ones, the money’s still been spent.

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly, Myles!!! It’s amazing how quickly the purchases add up, and yet so easy to convince yourself that you’re “not spending much”.

  18. Next year, I promise that I will have more control over my life, money, and happiness. And, I will start with written smart goals so that I can visualize it and see what is still missing for me to have greater year. So excited about it. Happy Holidays!

  19. Chela says:

    Great post. The struggle is real sometimes, but keeping the bigger picture in mind, and knowing I’m doing it not only for myself but for my family, too, keeps me motivated. Thanks for this.

  20. Alexis says:

    This was a great post to read, as I can relate to it as well. I just like to remind myself that indeed most things revolve around money, but I make sure to remember that the things in life that make me happy aren’t money related.

  21. Pingback: Friday Faves: Happy New Year | Blonde & Balanced

Comments are closed.