I have always considered myself to be a positive person. I always look at the bright side of things. I pride myself in being courageous (except around certain critters) and vigilante. I always take a challenge head on.
As a result, very rarely in my life have I used the phrase "I had to…" except when it came to money.
Super Powers GONE!
I cannot count the number of times I have used the phrase "I had to" when it came to money. It was as if I lost my super powers when money was the topic.
I felt vulnerable and unsure. I wanted to be confident and powerful (and often pretended to be), but the reality was that I was shaking in my boots when it came time to make big money decisions.
So when Keith and I started coaching others on how to manage their finances, I could smell "I had to" before it was even uttered.
I knew the shifty eye movement that would come with the words, as well as the slight discomfort I saw in the person's body language. They would utter the words "I had to" to justify something...
- "I had to use a credit card to purchase advertising for my business because my commission check was lower than I expected it to be."
- "I had to take out a student loan because it was the only way I could go to college."
- "I had to buy a new car with a loan because I couldn't find a used one that held it's value well."
- "I had to take money out of my retirement account because our house needed repairs."
- “I had to use a credit card for the family vacation because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
- “I had to get a 30 year mortgage with no money down because my rent was too high.”
I recognized their "I had to" moments because they used to be my "I had to" moments.
And I would venture a guess that most of us have had at least one "I had to" money moment that we're not proud of.
The truth about "I had to..."
But here are some truths about the phrase "I had to..."
The TRUTH is that using the phrase "I had to" sets us up to be a victim. And that is the last thing God wants for us...in our lives...and in our money. ("Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Romans 8:37)
- The TRUTH is that using the phrase "I had to" causes us to operate from a position of weakness, and not from a position of strength. He doesn't want that either. ("He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." Isaiah 40:29)
- The TRUTH is that using the phrase "I had to" means we're listening to lies being whispered by the enemy of our soul...and the enemy of our money. ("For there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44).
The TRUTH is that using the phase "I had to" will make us broke.
- "I had to" causes you to spend money you don't have.
- "I had to" takes away your bargaining power.
- "I had to" steals your future by causing you to spend money prematurely...without a well thought out plan.
I hear what you're saying..."Lisa, you're overreacting."
Maybe...but what if I'm not?
- What if you drew a line in the sand and refused to incur any more debt? What would that do for your self-control?
- What if you cut your budget for a season in order to get out of debt? What would that do for your future? Your family?
- What if you said "no" to your child's latest request for a new this or that when you know you can't afford it? What would your child learn about priorities and living within their means?
- What if you drove an older model car that you purchased with available cash instead of taking on a car payment? What would that do for your resolve? Your debt snowball? Your bank account?
When we make the decision to not use defeatist language like "I had to," we come up with Plan B.
And Plan C.
We think through our scenarios more completely and find alternatives which are just as good (if not better) than Plan A.
Plan B for us included limited spending for Christmas and birthdays to only $500 for the year. That meant lots of homemade gifts.
Plan B for us included packing a cooler for our frequent trips to St. Louis to pick up our kids. That meant no eating out on the road. It's been a significant savings over the years and increased the power of our debt snowball.
Plan B for us included day trips with the kids instead of vacations. We all have fond memories of our time together and "remember that time when..." is a statement we all use often.
So, make yourself a promise. NO MORE "I HAD TO" MOMENTS!
Stop. Draw a line in the sand. Vow to add no new debt. And get your life back!
Victory is yours when you choose not to live by "I had to."
Curious to hear your thoughts on this one.
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Until next week...be well...be encouraged.