Fact: I washed a piece of tin foil this weekend. Then I re-used it.

Is that crazy?  Maybe.  A couple of years ago, if you had told me that you had washed tin foil and re-used it, I would have judged you, hard. Real hard. And I probably would have gone out and bought you a box of foil as a sympathy gift.

But, people change sometimes. I know that’s true because it happened to me.  About a decade ago, I began to realize that our retirement was our responsibility. Frankly, it felt like someone was dragging me over to a cliff, and then shoving me over the edge. Like those terrible falling dreams, you know the ones that cause you to jerk awake, heart racing? Yea, that was the feeling. No pension, no major inheritance, no money tree growing in the back yard.

A Scary Wake Up Call

It was a sudden realization that decades were zipping past us, and we were moving in financial slow motion.  It was up to us to decide what type of retirement and lifestyle we were going to enjoy in our later years.  Frankly, I found that reality seriously scary. Like most Americans, we were living beyond our income, ignoring the long term consequences of our choices.

This past weekend I read an article titled “73% of Americans have financial regrets- don’t be one of them” in the personal finance section of USA Today online. Like many PF articles, the number one concern of Americans is regretting not saving enough for retirement. In addition to the alarming lack of retirement savings, the article cited a Federal Reserve report that half of Americans couldn’t handle a $400 emergency expense without borrowing the money or selling something to pay for it.

Wow. That statistic requires a moment of silence.

I remember when we didn’t have $400.00 for an emergency. It sucked. But, the reality of our situation was if we were willing to control our spending, we would have been able to save money for an emergency fund.  Somehow it just didn’t seem as important as spending on the fun stuff, eating out when I felt tired, or shopping for relaxation.  Lets’ be honest, preparing for the future isn’t super fun. Or exciting. In fact, choosing to be self controlled is just plain exhausting at times.

The Day Things Started To Change

I remember years ago, when I was at a Christian bookstore, and I saw a book on the shelf by Dave Ramsey. “Financial Peace” was the title. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered hearing good things about this author.  And, who wouldn’t want financial peace? So, I bought the book. With my credit card. (Dave would not be excited about that transaction!) I read it thru in two days, and then handed it over to Mr. Money Tree. He read it as well, and right then, we decided to change our family tree. We followed Mr. Ramsey’s steps, and in two years we paid off over $60,000.00 in credit card and auto debt.  Was it hard! You betcha! Did it feel like forever? Absolutely.

The book that helped us get started on our money education.

 

Benefits Of Pursuing An Education In Money

Truth be told, nothing has spurred more character growth in me than learning how to handle money with wisdom. As my understanding of money management grew, so did my mindset about self image and appearances. I began to believe that learning self control and practicing discipline was way more important than having stuff.  Trust me, that mindset took years to develop, I didn’t just read the book and become a brilliant money manager. Practice, persistence, and pursuing new habits took time, but ultimately, self discipline paid off.

I like myself better now that I have developed more money muscle.  Seriously, I have more respect for myself than before.  Things that seemed ridiculous years ago are now every day for our lifestyle.  I no longer judge other peoples decisions to reduce, reuse or recycle in their households. In fact, I am always looking for new ideas to stretch and save our dollars even further. Like I mentioned here, money is like a game to me, a fun challenge to see how far I can stretch each dollar.

So, what about you? Are you willing to get educated on money and how to use it? There are many types of money advisers out in the financial world, find one that is willing to teach you the rules on how to win. Or maybe the best place to start is reading a book, learning the first steps about understanding the power of your income.  However you choose to begin, just commit to starting. It will be hard, trust me. But as your money knowledge grows, it will get easier to make the best financial choices.

 Don’t look back, look toward your future, and make a decision to be healthy with money.

 

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