You’re the hero in your life story, and I’m the hero in mine.
But as in all great stories — we’re not alone. Evil enemies lurk in our lives, fighting to prevent us from our dreams. They want to rob our money, ruin our careers, and destroy our relationships.
Hopefully we get to work together — because our enemies are strong. And sometimes we’re weak. Sometimes we need help.
Here are five of my greatest enemies to wealth. When I lose to them, they have no mercy — they take away all my money. Have you fought them before too?
Last week, I walked into a store and ended up spending almost 50% more than my planned budget.
Why? Because I was too proud to tell the smooth-talking attendant I was on a limited budget. I don’t know who I was trying to impress — she wasn’t even my type of hot — but I couldn’t get past my ego. I couldn’t bring myself to say “This is all I can afford — do you have something cheaper?”
Maybe I was trying to impress myself.
Every time that happens — I become a little poorer. Ego clouds my judgement and I make stupid decisions.
Pride comes before a fall.
While ego is a personal battle, jealousy takes things one step further. Now instead of just being proud, I’m proud, comparing myself to other people — and wanting to be greater than them.
And it makes me do all sorts of crazy things. For example, buying a luxury condo to “win” my friends — even though I actually can’t afford the loan payments and the maintenance fees.
The worst thing is jealousy is never satisfied. Think you’ll make him shut up once your house is bigger than your friends? Wait till you meet someone with an even bigger house…
Some might say that jealousy isn’t all bad — that it can actually encourage you to make more money and become more successful.
Sorry, but I’m not buying that. I’ve never seen anything good come from jealousy.
If someone wants to improve themselves, get promoted, and make more money — that’s great. But the motivation shouldn’t be from comparing themselves to other people, and lusting after what they have.
That only ever leads to heartbreak.
3. Peer Pressure
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
– Jim Rohn –
If all your close friends love luxury cars — you’re more likely to think that BMWs are value for money. If all your girlfriends are in credit card debt, you’re more likely to think it’s normal to pay interest every month — as long as you have that latest handbag!
Likewise, if your inner circle is full of negative people who bitch about how “life is unfair” and “it’s XXX’s fault that I’m poor” — it’ll be hard for you to take responsibility over your own life and finances.
I can’t tell you who you should spend time with. But if you think about it properly, you can tell which people in your life are good and bad for you. And your money.
It might be painful, but is it time to remove bad influences from your life?
Sometimes, it’s not that we don’t know what to do. It’s that we’re too weak to do it.
I use the term “weak” loosely here. It could mean a combination of laziness, lack of motivation, and procrastination.
Like how I’m supposed to pay my credit card bills on time, but I delay it because I’m busy having drinks with my friends. Or when I’m supposed to be reading about LLP taxation, but end up streaming Selena Gomez’s latest videos.
The only way I know to build discipline is this: Acknowledge the pain; feel it; then do the right thing anyway. Take the first small step and follow through. And understand it takes time.
I was once a broke fresh graduate, feeling that I didn’t have enough money. It took me six long years of doing the boring, painful, right things (e.g. working hard, budgeting, saving>10% of salary) before I finally started feeling comfortable financially.
And sometimes I still feel like I don’t have enough money…
The most dangerous enemy of all is ignorance. And its ugly cousin — apathy.
“I don’t know and I don’t care.”
Because you can’t improve your situation if you don’t have the knowledge. Even worse, if you’re really clueless — you might not even know if you’re in deep shit.
I was once shamelessly ignorant too: When I first started working in 2007, I felt that everything was great. I had a job in a big company; and I had money to blow every month. Yay! I was so good at blowing money that I didn’t have any savings.
Until I stumbled upon the concept of net worth while reading online. So I did the calculation: total assets minus total liabilities. And that’s when I realized it — I was broke as hell.
The scary thing was that nobody had asked me to learn about this finance stuff. Not my parents, not my bosses, and not my friends. I just did it out of personal interest. Maybe if I hadn’t stumbled upon that article, I’d still be broke today.
(Thank you Investopedia.)
But once I was aware of my situation — I could start doing things to improve.
Which makes me wonder. For something so important, why isn’t personal finance taught in schools?
– – –
Some days I think that I’m strong — and then someone walks past with a shiny Rolex on his wrist. I can’t help looking, and jealousy is back.
Some days I think that I’m smart — and then I read a proper financial newspaper and realize I don’t understand 50% of what they’re saying.
Then I remember — these enemies never fully go away. The war never ends.
Every day we fight again. For our wealth and freedom. The more you win, the easier it gets. It’s momentum — like a champion sprinter leaving the pack behind.
I want us to win; so let’s keep doing the difficult things. Let’s keep learning and training; winning the small battles. Then someday, our enemies won’t be able to beat us anymore.
Someday, we’ll be Usain Bolt. Leaving the pack behind; smiling at the cameras.
– – –
Originally published at mr-stingy’s column on iMoney.
Pic from Unsplash.