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1. The "But I deserve it!" Mentality

This type of Mentality is exactly what leads many people down a destructive path towards debt and poor Money management. Typically, it starts when we are children. We have all been witness to that child at the store who is crying at the top of their lungs because they saw a toy they wanted and mommy said no. "But I want it mommy! Please!" they cry, flopped on the ground, with everyone in the store listening and making judgments about that poor mother. Little do we realize many of us have never outgrown this mentality, although our complaints may no longer include body flops and wailing aloud at Target. And as most of us know, new toys are only exciting for a short while because that same child will get tired of playing with it when they discover something bigger and better during the next trip to the store or the next play date with their neighbor. I say this not to point the finger at anyone because my husband and I have surely held this mentality as well.

For years, I believed I "deserved" new clothing items, expensive beauty products, manicures, dining out...and Starbucks. :) "I work hard," I told myself. Maybe your "I deserve it" items are different than mine. Maybe you think you "deserve" that fancy car, upgrades to your vehicle, an overpriced/oversized house, expensive furniture, pricey shoes, dining out, etc. You know what the hardest part to admit about this mentality is? You might be right! You may very well be incredibly deserving of the things you want...because you do work hard! For those of you who are hard workers, this may be a difficult mentality to overcome, however recognize that because you work so hard for your money, you deserve to keep it, save it, and NOT owe money to anyone. More than any material item you can find, you deserve financial PEACE and SECURITY.

Once I realized how much I was spending on beauty products such as Proactiv, designer label makeup, manicures, clothing, and unnecessary food items, my eyes were opened as to how I could put this money towards eliminating debt or saving. So I did some research and found a comparable drug store item for each of the pricey beauty products I was used to wearing. I now do my own nails with the exception of my once a year "splurge" prior to going on a vacation. For the first time in my life, I went out and bought a purse from...*drum roll please*...TJ Maxx! Now, the only time I have Starbucks is when I have a gift card. And I go shopping for clothing at most twice a year and spend a max total of $300 annually (and even that feels like a splurge to me now!). When I find myself feeling tempted to return to this mentality, I think back on the amount of debt we overcame and I look at our savings account with my eyes on the next goal--saving at LEAST a 20% down payment on a house. And suddenly, that $1 nail polish looks absolutely stunning. :)

I'm currently reading the book The Millionaire Next Door and from what I've read thus far, it is well known that successful people with great amounts of wealth AND savings do NOT have this "But I deserve it" mentality and live WELL below their means. And you would think if anyone deserves a fancy suit and luxury car, it would be people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffet. However, Warren Buffet still lives in the $31,500 house he bought in 1956. Mark Zuckerberg's car collection includes an Acura, Honda, and a Volkswagen. And Bill Gates wears a $10 wrist watch. And just like that, I am humbled and brought back down to #reality.

2. Extravagant Gifts

For my birthday this year, my husband offered to take me on a shopping trip and although it sounded tempting, I said, "Absolutely not--we need to save!" I am proud to say I spent a total of $10 on myself on my birthday. I took 2 days off from work, got a free lunch from Vert's Mediterranean through their app, and went shopping with years worth of Kohl's gift cards I'd "hoarded" since 2013...yes, 2013. And it was one of the best birthdays ever! You see, once you start budgeting and making progress towards your goals, you develop a different mentality towards what matters in life. Suddenly, the things of this world that are temporary and fleeting aren't quite as appealing.

Typically, before and after my birthday or Valentine's Day, people ask me what me and my husband's plans are and what he got me. This year, on Valentine's Day, we literally spent $3.60 at Chick Fil A on ice cream--something we wouldn't even typically do, however it was Valentine's Day so we HAD to go all out, right?! Wrong! My husband and I haven't gotten each other a gift for a holiday since the year we got married... 3 years ago. And we're still together and happily married even without Hallmark in our lives! :) Instead, we save our money and travel out of the country every year. For those of you who are friends with us on Facebook, you may have seen albums of us going to places like Italy, Greece, France, and Spain. Those trips were only possible because of sacrifice and the choices we made because traveling is what we value. Some of you may not value traveling, but you may value other forms of entertainment or splurging. And that's okay! It's YOUR money and therefore if you choose to spend more in a certain area than the next person because that's what you value, then so be it! :) However, we recommend you only do so when you are able to pay with cash--without accumulating debt. This is the freedom that comes when you are debt free. You can budget more in certain areas based on what you value and enjoy.

3. Not Making a Budget

Have you ever had a significant amount of money ($100, let's say) and suddenly like MAGIC, it disappears and you're left wondering, "Where did it all go? Who stole my money?! Someone must have overcharged me!" only to find out that you were your own enemy in this scenario... Orrrrr, was that just me? I could come up with every excuse in the book why it took me so long to realize that taking the time to make a budget was best for our family. Apparently, other people are in the same boat as only 32% of households have a budget according to statistics. When it came to budgeting for groceries, I used the excuse that I work full-time and don't want to spend additional time having to "meal plan," look for coupons, and actually take time to consider what I am purchasing. The grocery store is not a fun place sometimes. However, when you get to the cashier and see that you have spent significantly less than you previously did "pre-budget," it becomes well worth it. Yes, it does probably take less time and less effort to just pick something up to eat after a full day of working or taking care of the kids, but the money you save is well worth the time spent.

Once I saw where every dollar was going and just how much we were spending on groceries, eating out, and other random expenses, it was shocking to me and left me with many regrets. I even looked up the average amount spent on groceries for a family of two (our family's size, which includes me and husband) and realized we were spending as much as a family of four! If you know my husband's appetite, however, this may not be a huge shocker to you. :) It was then that I knew something had to change. Now, we update our budget monthly as each month involves different expenses (for example, birthday months and Christmas) and we ensure every dollar is accounted for. It's time-consuming, however you need to know where your money is going. Budgeting will cause you to come face to face with reality and sometimes, it can lead to difficult discussions, conflict, fear, and regret. Although you may be tempted to avoid it, I encourage you to tackle it head on as the long-term consequences of NOT doing so will be far worse than the present discomfort you face now. 

We'd love to hear about the lessons you all have learned along the way and changes that you have made, are making, or plan to make towards eliminating debt and managing your finances. Feel free to share your success stories with us! We're all in this together. :)

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. Proverbs 23:11

Whoever loves money never has enough;
Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless. 
Ecclesiastes 5:10

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. I John 2:16-17

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. I Timothy 6:6-10

This post first appeared on Words Of Wisdom, please read the originial post: here

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