Financially, I’m coasting. I’m comfortable. And I know it’s dangerous.
I once knew what it felt like to survive on $1,000 a month. I’m making five times that now. Financially, my life is a cake walk. Technically, I can afford almost anything I want.
I don’t hesitate to pick up a three-dollar cup of coffee in the morning. I can afford it.
I don’t stop myself from impulsively buying the dress I saw in the window at Banana Republic. I can afford it.
I don’t scrutinize everything that goes into my shopping cart at the grocery store. I can afford it.
When I was living on $1,000 a month, each dollar I spent mattered. Each decision I made about where to and where not to spend my money, hurt like hell.
But with that oppressive $1,000-a-month ceiling removed, I’ve gotten lazy. I’m less aware, less in-tune with my money. My financial choices don’t hurt as much, so I ignore the little leaks in my spending. I can afford it.
That needs to stop.
Masochistic as it sounds, I want to remember that pain – that financial constraint, that twinge of regret because I had to make a difficult choice with my money.
Most importantly, I want to remember the pain so that I have the motivation to never go back to hit my financial rock bottom again. Ever.
I remember life right after college… the trips to the grocery store, the decisions to fore-go fresh produce to save a few bucks. I remember the moments of hesitation in the pharmacy line, asking myself a question that no one should have to ask themselves: “Can I really afford my medication right now?”
I think about these moments, and I get uncomfortable. And it helps me shake off my complacency.
I remember what it feels like to have money limit the way I want to live my life.
It reminds me that I will do everything in my power to never relive that again.
These memories are enough to keep me going, to stock away enough money for those “just in case moments,” to negotiate my ass off when it comes to my salary and to squeeze value out of every last dollar that comes my way.
It also reminds me that I can overcome anything with my money. Through hard work, sweat and lots of tears, and despite my excuses and the circumstances stacked against me, I’ve managed to shape my own financial future. I have the luxury of feeling complacent.
These memories remind me that I can manifest my own financial destiny. Economy be damned.
Harness that feeling and light a fire.
If you’ve ever experienced that kind of financial pain or you find yourself in that place right now, harness that feeling. Recognize it. Embrace it. Then use it.
Use the financial friction and tension in your life as fuel to light a fire. Take that pain and use it to make a big, bold change in your life.
Most importantly, share your story – tell others about the pain you’ve gone through and spread that fire, that motivation to everyone else. Above all else, help save others from going through what you have.
Pain subsides with time. It’s easy to forget those financially painful moments from the past and it’s easy to become complacent now.
So if you need it, give yourself a figurative slap-in-the-face, just as a reminder that you’re in control of your future and every single dollar that comes your way.
Use them wisely and don’t get too comfortable.
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