Jan 11, 2010

Saving Money - With Your "Who" or Your "Do"

Every year, my dad gives up smoking for Lent. On Easter, he starts smoking again. Those who have never smoked might not understand this. After all, 7+ weeks later, why didn't he just quit for good? Answer: because he didn't quit smoking. He just gave it up for Lent.

There's a difference.

You can change your behavior without changing who you are. It's difficult, but Dad proves every year that it can be done. At least for a while.

However, long-term change is only sustained by changing your "who," not your "do." If you use the 7+ weeks to engage in some reverse-brainwashing, with hourly affirmations of "I don't smoke," "I don't have to smoke," and "I love being free from the slavery of addiction," you might find that a few months down the road you really are a nonsmoker.

What has that to do with saving money? Besides the ridiculous cost of cigarettes, I mean?

People who are under financial pressure to trim the budget, whether Educational Administrators, business owners, or working homeowners, will do well to heed the same advice:

Change your "who," not just your "do."

You can trim expenses in the short term (let's lay off the cafeteria ladies, let's not go to the movies tonight), but until you start looking for ways to do things differently, the change is just a "do" until you get more money. You want to change your "who" into an efficient and prosperous manager of your money.

Start thinking like one. Long-term results require long-term thinking. In the long term, can we do with one fewer car? Can we sell our house and buy something smaller, which means lower taxes and lower insurance? Consider every household expenditure in your mind. What can you substitute for meals out? What can you substitute for travel and entertainment? What can you substitute for new clothes every season? Can an independent insurance agent find you a policy that costs less than your current one? Then, look at your piddling money. A Coke here, a latte there, and you've spent thousands of dollars by year's end.

Think like a saver and investor, not like a spender.

While you're looking for ways to do things differently, detach the ego from your purchases. You miss that little "high" you get when the barista knows your name? Lose the ego. Be content with knowing that your dog knows you, and coffee from home can be delicious, too. Don't just sit there and whine, "Everyone else gets to go out to lunch and I don't. Poor me." That's short sighted! Think long-term. As you eat your bologna sandwich in the break room, savor every bite. Give thanks for it. Focus on the goal: I enjoy being debt free.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Day by day, change not just your do, but your who. You'll get there little by little, if you just don't give up.

What "who" will you start becoming today?

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