Financial Freedom - Journey Begins
Old Habits Fight Back
It was still early days in my journey to financial freedom. I was learning new things. I was putting my house in order, budgeting, personal income statement, balance sheet, financial plan and the works. I was making long-term plans and projections.
My goal was to quit the rat race on or before my fortieth birthday. I had five years to do that. The feel good factor was very much at play. Without, my present reality remained unchanged, but within me, it was a brand new world. I learnt that if I maintained the change within, then the without will line up. It was a matter of time?
I thought that having made up my mind, the job was as good as done. I thought wrong. Old habits and emotions did not lie low for long. They fought back, hard. I found out that new habits do not grow overnight. Old habits became internalized over a long period of time. It could take as long to show it the door. The first theatre of war was in the expenses sector. The battlefield was budgeting. Not in the making of budgets, but keeping to it, after the house has passed it. It was a long drawn out guerrilla warfare with enemy snipers lurking in every shadow. I had thought that having come this far, starting to cross the bridge, it was a race to the finish line. Progress was painfully slow. Impulse, my biggest enemy was operating behind enemy lines. I had to fight it every inch of the way.
I had carried my wife on the journey with me; well at least I thought I did. My one year old was too young to know what the excitement was about. My wife loved the idea of financial freedom. Married to a husband who's job put him on the road most of the time, a husband who had to hurry down from another continent to be by her side at the labor ward, financial freedom meant seeing more of her husband and having more money to spend. She loved the idea. The snag was, she was not in love with the price tag it came with. She wanted it free. I cannot say I blame her. We all love freebies. Reducing waste in the family budget became an interesting proposition. It may be easier trying to cut US military spending under a Republican government, than show the door budget items that were nice but not necessary.
Then there was the issue of personal emotions. Impulse. Spending, I realized, is a deeply emotional issue. I spent based on emotions. Perceived needs. Time and again, I find myself at the wrong side of a store or catalogue, staring longingly at what I sure would love to have, but is not in the budget. The routine was simple. I "bookmark" the object of my desire (if the spare cash on me was not enough), I go home and make another budget to include it (never mind the deficit). Then I take some time to convince myself, and then my wife why it is a necessity, and not a luxury. When I am sufficiently self-convinced (self selling) and gotten my wife to agree then I declare a state of emergency. That gives me emergency powers to raid our reserve for deficit financing, and bingo! I am back in business. You guessed right, I am back at the shop in a jiffy, and Financial-freedom-moments later, yours truly is queuing at the checkout. When a state of normalcy has returned, I face the house. I parry away guilt by rehashing the benefits of the item, while trying to repair the financial damage done by the impulse purchase.
It could have been funny but for the fact that it happens over and over again. I knew before I started the journey that I needed to master my emotions. Indeed made a decision to master my emotions. I thought that the decision was enough bulwark to fortify me against the myriad temptations on the high street. Indeed!
The Beat Goes On
I have come to realize that taming one's emotions is not a battle but a war. You win some days, and some days, you lick your wounds in defeat and retreat, to fight another day. The more you win, the greater your chances of winning the war. And the more you lose, the greater your chances of winning the next skirmish, if you are serious about financial freedom. It sounds paradoxical. From my personal experience, any time I blow it, I feel very bad, and angry, so mad that I keep a lookout for similar booby traps. I try to make it up to myself, to 'win' back the money I lost. So head or tail, I win?ultimately
I have not won the war yet. I may never win, as my dream is to get to the place of more than enough; a place where my wants and needs are met. When I get there, I don't need to fight this war anymore. For sure I will still need the disciple gained in prosecuting this war?