Personal finances are a touchy subject. Everyone makes different amounts, everyone has different needs, and everyone has different goals. With this in mind, there are two absolute certainties regarding personal finances: 1. Debt has consequences, and 2. Saving has benefits.
The Consequence of Debt…
Lives have been born into debt and many lives constantly die in debt. People use debt to visit fancy places, eat at nice restaurants, buy nice cars, and “keep up with the Joneses.” That may create a fantastic Instagram-filtered life, but debt has consequences. The most obviously consequence is that you have to pay back more than you borrowed. If you put a $50 steak on your credit card, you end up paying $65 for it with interest.
The larger (and usually more dangerous) consequence is the wedge that debt drives between a family. When half of the marriage is constantly worried about making credit card, auto loan or student loan payments, they are not focused on the needs and desires of the other half of the marriage. Longer work days turn into shorter nights with loved ones. Eventually they become so consumed with debt that they end up not living at all.
Now, tell me which path you would rather take?
- An extremely fun life for a few years. You have it all, and it’s a blast. However, later you have to work longer hours, spend less time with your family, miss the opportunity to play with your new toys, and are constantly stressed out about how to make ends meet.
- No new toys, no exciting vacations, and nothing to write home about. However, you spend the majority of your day with the people you love, you spend the majority of your life doing what you want to do, you don’t have a worry in the world when it comes to your finances, and you can give to any charity you would like to give to.
The Benefit of Saving…
If you’ve made it this far, then you’ve probably decided it’s time to get rid of your debt. Now what? Save. Saving for tomorrow is, simply put, deferring gratification. This is the largest sign of maturity, and in my eyes: good guy swag.
Saving sucks though. No one likes it. It’s like working out. The first time you did it, you probably hated it and were not that good at it. The 1000th time you did it, you probably loved it and were much, much better than initially. The way you started working out, slowly with low amounts of weight, is the exact same way you start saving. By saving $50 a month to start out, you will end up forgetting you even received that $50 (aka you aren’t as sore as the day before). The next year it will be easy to say, “I can probably save $100 extra this year.” Eventually you look down and you are saving $1000 a month and have built up a fantastic net worth.
Why would you want to save? To prepare for the uncertain, to properly purchase those exciting vacations and fancy dinners, and to ultimately not rely upon a job for your income. Savings (and investing those savings) is the path to complete freedom to do what you want when you want with who you want.
Slavery or Freedom
The consequence of debt is the constant anxiety of being forced to work in order to keep your life. This is called slavery.
The benefit of saving is the ability to do whatever you want and not relying upon external forces. This is called freedom.
As men, we are asked to provide for our family. The only way we can truly accomplish this is by ensuring we are free. If you are currently living above your means, please understand you are not doing your wife, your future children, or yourself any favors by having nice things. Working towards financial freedom is what a leader of a family would do, and as gentlemen, it is the only way to handle money.