Get back up like Rocky Balboa.
Toddlers fall a lot.
Research tells us two-year-olds fall 38 times a day.
When these children fall down, they get back up. They learn to walk.
Most of us are toddlers when it comes to money. We are learning as we go and are bound to fall.
We rack up debt in the form of student loans and credit cards, limiting our ability to save and invest in our future. Emergencies can be devastating, especially when 56% of Americans can’t cover a $1,000 bill with their savings.
You can overcome money mistakes and learn to walk with your finances.
The deeper the hole you find yourself in, the more work it will take to stand up, but there are many examples of people who have overcome.
You only lose if you don’t get back up.
Early in my adult life, I didn’t understand money at all. I bought a car, and it was a total money pit. My local bank was happy to give me a credit card, though, and I used that card to fix my car.
The car continued to try to die, and I kept dumping money onto my credit card to keep it alive. Soon, my balance was sitting at the limit. So I got another card.
Rinse and repeat.
It didn’t take long to dig a pretty big hole. My military salary was small, and my newfound credit card debt was enormous. I’d fallen into this hole, and the bottom was getting deeper.
I was on track to becoming a lifelong financial disaster.
I still didn’t know diddly about personal finance, but I knew debt hurt — a lot.
Leaving the military was my first act of getting up.
That move led to a job with substantially more income. I also acknowledged how crappy I felt living under that mountain of debt.
I got back up — made sacrifices, like eating ramen, living without air conditioning in Florida, and skipping nights out with friends. My focus was like a laser on that debt.
Some days I would make progress. Others weren’t so nice. A sucker punch would sneak through from time to time: more car troubles or a pet medical bill.
These days sucked.
Sometimes I felt like not getting back up, giving in to a life with debt.
Progress was slow.
Years passed, and I kept working on that debt — a setback, some progress.
Then one day, I sent my final credit card payment. My balance was zero!
Rocky Balboa took a lot of hits and fell many times, but he always got back up. I’m not Rocky, but it felt pretty damn good to beat that debt.
One victory doesn’t make you a financial pro.
You might have created a positive net worth; if you have, congratulations. That’s a huge accomplishment.
One of the best ways to build wealth is to spend less than you make and save the rest. Sometimes this comes easy. But life happens, and we get sucked in.
Perhaps you need to get that new electric vehicle. I mean, the cost of fuel these days is out of control. Why not drop $60K on a new car.
Hey, I’ve been there. Sometimes material possessions are calling our name. My weakness has always been cars. I suppose it has something to do with my first experience with a used car.
I’ve owned more than my fair share of cars. If you listen to advice from the financial independence community, cars are a terrible way to spend your money. Spending like this will knock you down and off your path to financial independence.
I thought I was smart. I hired a financial planner and paid myself first. Then I bought cars with the rest. My financial planner had no problem with my car habit. She only seemed to care that I invested with her first.
Paying myself first was a huge win. My stumbles with cars did hurt my financial progress, but the foundational savings habit was in place.
The impacts of my spending decisions weren’t as easy to recognize as my original debt struggles. My net worth was increasing. I was making progress towards my goals.
Yet, spending money on possessions like cars was like running with a parachute attached to my back.
It took many years and many cars for me to wake up and realize this behavior slowed me down. I thought of this spending as a reward for my hard work.
Ultimately, I realized I wouldn’t need to work so hard if I quit spending on such things.
If your goal is to reach financial independence as fast as possible, falls created by spending on material possessions like cars can derail you.
Ultimately, this fall cost me time in a stressful job.
You have to decide what is most important. Deprivation to reach your goal is harsh. Too much indulgence will delay your goal date at a minimum.
Get up, don’t give up.
Financial journeys are not easy.
The easiest path is to give up and just live with debt. Forgo the future of your dreams and become an average person.
You may not have the means to become financially independent, save a million bucks, and retire early. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be financially successful.
The smarter you are with your money, the better off you will be in the long run. It’s critical to get back up when you fall.
Seek employment that will increase your ability to pay off your debt and build wealth. You have to drive this.
No one is going to give this to you.
Learning to walk wasn’t easy. You fell a lot.
You got up, and you learned to walk.
You can become a financial success. You can defeat debt and create positive net worth.
There will be stumbles and falls. It will hurt.
You will even fall after you think you know a thing or two.
But if you get up, you won’t lose.
The Journey to Financial Independence Creates Freedom
Join to get the FI for Freedom newsletter. We'll share content that will help you discover Freedom before you hit your FI Number.