When you get a paper cut your immediate response (or at least mine) is to put your finger in your mouth. To instantly withdrawal and coddle the source of the pain. Paper cuts are life usually life threatening and while it is really painful at the time, it will eventually pass. This same analogy can be drawn to the personal finance paper cuts we find ourselves knee-jerkingly trying to nurture. When we talk personal finance I want you to spur that feeling as often as possible. Usually we fee financial pains and pressures for one of a few reasons :
- We fell off our plan’s course
- Something unexpected caught us off guard
- There was never a plan and we were forced to understand one of economics most principal concepts - we have miss allocated our scarce resources
So what do you do when you are having an off day (or pay period). Well much like proper first aid you have to take a step back and asses your situation. DO NOT just throw your hands up in frustration and give up. DO NOT blame some existential force for the state your in. INSTEAD use this newly acquired lens to focus on assessing your situation and finding the motivation to move past it.
- Why did you get here? What happened?
- Why do you feel the way you do?
- Are there any new variables that weren’t accounted for?
- How far from your plans (ideal and pragmatic) have you strayed?
Now take an assessment of your tools. What do you have control over? These are your actual resources like: time, skill sets, resume, future pay schedule, assets (that you might be willing or able to vendor), and current budget. After that it’s up to you to decide how you best want to put yourself back on track. I have some real personal experience with this that I want to share. Before I started Financially Digital I had left a consulting firm and relocated. I thought I had enough to bridge my finances before I landed a new gig somewhere (not knowing I would eventually start out on my own) but I was wrong. I had some repairs that I hadn’t budgeted for that needed to be done on my car 2006 VW GLI. So instead of throwing my hands up and giving up I dug my feet in and took stock. I ended up selling some stuff as well as adjusting my budget and of things sold were my set of golf clubs and golf gear. My irrationality was my biggest road block because I had to remind myself that I hadn’t golfed in years at that point and I probably wasn’t going to do it again for at least a few summers.
So take those feelings you have bubbling up and grab them by the reins. Use them as a catalyst to create change and get yourself back on track. Above all else though - don’t let yourself get caught throwing your own pitty party. Not only are you wasting time but the guest lists for those are usually pretty small and no one brings gifts.