There’s more to Life than just Surviving!
While visiting a friend at their business a customer who is a used car business owner/salesman came in and I asked him how business was. His reply was that he was seeing sales, but he was also a bit down-hearted because he had seen a lot of people already who were coming in to buy a car with their income tax money even before they had received it. As we talked a little bit further he revealed that he was sad about it because of the state of survival that most people are in.
A State of Survival
Living life in a state of survival is all too common for us. I used to live that way and it wasn’t fun, but it was normal. I didn’t even think that there was a better way for the most part, I just believed that was the way my life was and I hoped that one day it would be different when I made more money. The problem was that even when I made more money things never changed, at least not the way that I had hoped. The only thing that really changed was that I was able to do more and spend more. I still lived paycheck to paycheck and in a state of survival.
My focus was on doing what I thought was right and also on making sure that I had what I wanted at that time. Somewhere inside of me I thought that I could be happy if I only had this thing or that, but I never really realized that even though I had these things that I was never any happier, except for maybe a short period, and there was always something else that was a want that grabbed my attention. My reality revolved around my dream getting bigger and me spending more the more money that I made and I was just surviving without ever getting ahead.
More than Survival
My life changed from survival to more than survival when I was introduced to a different way in thinking than what is experienced in most of America today. I was now newly married and my church was hosting a Financial Peace University class by this Dave Ramsey guy that we signed up for. While we were in the class we learned about budgeting, building up an emergency fund, getting out of debt, saving money, and more. We learned that if we ever wanted to change our life and move from a state of survival to living life in financial freedom that we had to not only change our thinking, but our behavior.
It is embarrassing to say, but when we sat down and did our budget for the first time we found out that we were literally blowing about $1000 a month. We did not have an income problem, we had a spending problem. Slowly we honed in on our budget and were able to start paying down more and more of our debt, but it wasn’t an easy change, even with the extra money that we did have coming in. We were used to spending money and it was hard to control ourselves, but eventually our budget was more accurate and it became less cumbersome for us to stick to.
Thriving while Saving and Giving
We have now been debt free for three years and our lives are drastically different from when we started on this journey toward financial freedom. No longer are we living life in survival mode, no longer are we living life just surviving, we are living life, saving for our future, and we are able to give to help others. I wish I could report that living life on a budget was exhilarating, but for us it is not, for some though it might be. Living life on a budget is worth it though.
By handling our money with intentionality and forethought we are able to do the things that we desire while being able to keep saving for our future and giving generously. Since starting our budget we have been able to realign our thinking and our spending in a way in which we feel as though we are truly being stewards with our money and that we are honoring God. We have experienced much more fulfillment than what we ever did when we were spending all of our money every month and buying things that we wanted in the moment. We are content in the moment while being able to dream about the future and save for the future.
Contentment in our situation has allowed us to slow down and enjoy life. We have learned to enjoy the small things in life and to take advantage of doing things together as a family that do not involve spending money like getting out into nature to see the richness of God in his creation. We have learned to trust God for the things that we desire in our future so that we can be generous presently with both our regular giving and as God leads us to in our irregular giving.
Our outlook on life has changed as well as our spending habits. We could have more stuff, we could have nicer stuff, but we could also have debt. We have chosen to wait for God’s blessing in our life and in doing so we have seen Him bless us abundantly and we have learned to be grateful for what He has blessed us with. We have not achieved everything that we want to with our money, and we likely never will, but we look forward to a time in the future when we are able to give away the majority of our income, because our needs and dreams have been fully accomplished.
Part of being able to live a life with a future of extravagant generously means that we have had to place achievable and reasonable financial goals upon our lives. That does not mean that it’s not tempting to dream bigger, but our bigger dreams for spending or saving for ourselves are balanced out by our bigger dreams of being able to give and help others.
Living life in a state of survival is not very fun. While I acknowledge that Jesus said that we will always have the poor among us that does not mean that we have to live in a life of survival due to our own actions. Changing our financial future means that we have to change both our thoughts and our actions today. We need to be intentional with every dollar that we have and make a plan for it. Without a plan and intentionality we will never be able to change our survival mentality. There are plenty of people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars and even millions of dollars who are still living paycheck to paycheck because they have not learned to spend wisely and to live with contentment.
The ability to move out of living in a state of survival to living a life of thriving has much less to do with the amount of money that you make than it does with the way you handle your money and think about it. If we always spend our money and never live life with a budget we will always find ourselves just surviving.
If you are ready to change your thinking and to change your habits I want to congratulate you and encourage you in your endeavor. Please check out more of the articles within the site starting with How to Stop Living in a Financial Emergency and How do I get out of Debt. If you have questions along the way then please feel free to ask and if you would like help getting started or at any point along the way make sure that you contact me so that we can set up a one-on-one coaching session. It is not easy to change our thoughts and our actions. We needed help to see a change in ours so don’t be fooled into thinking that you don’t need help if you know that you do. If you can’t make it work, but really want it to then reach out, it is my honor to be able to help people start investing in their future.
Thank you for your time and have a wonderful day!