The New York Times has a painfully insightful piece about hundreds of thousands of people who have gotten into debt beyond their means. Spurred on in part by lenders telling them to “Live richly” and to “tap into the money” for the last ten years, people are now in over their heads, losing their homes and stressed beyond their capacity.
Who’s to blame?
Yes, we can blame the borrowers. They probably shouldn’t have done it. They sign and commit to monthly payments that last for 20+ years – much longer than it takes to spend that extra $25,000 you got out of your house. And like most humans, we are optimists. We assume property values will only go up, and we make no contingency plans for a failed marriage, a layoff, a health setback or a decline in our property value.
And of course lenders, also humans, play to our basic wish to have more and do more, like, well, those other people on TV or the woman who lives on the other side of town.
What is the urge to have more, be more and do more – and faster – costing us?
Borrowers lose their money, their homes and their happiness, but so do the lenders. U.S. Unveils Takeover of Two Mortgage Giants. (PDF here)
Are we all just grasping too much with the hope that ‘everything will work out’?
Should we slow down, commit to fewer things, and focus on the one or two things that really matter the most to us? So we get some enjoyment (and appreciation of ourselves) from those while we’re still above ground?
What would you really throw yourself into? What would you suddenly do much less of? What would you stop spending money on?
What would you really throw yourself into?
Spending time with my family and friends! It’s already my favorite thing to do.
What would you suddenly do much less of?
I’m not sure.
Probably spending money on clothes or re-decorating my home.
I agree, Kim, that comparing yourself to the neighbors or the people you see on TV is a big trap. When I’m centered, I know that feeling better about how I look or what my house looks like is an inside job.
Kim, thank you for your insightful and compassionate post.
Almost 10 years ago I read a book called Your Money or Your Life that motivated me to see the consumption in my life through a new lens. The book positively influenced my savings (and buying) habits ever since and I’m convinced that it made a real difference in my wealth — in both money and happiness. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Excellent post, Kim. Too many of us are committing to more things than we can possibly commit to, then wondering why we are burnt out – physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.
What would I really throw myself into? Spending more time with my friends and family, and making sure I see the people who are dear to my heart, and yet far away, more often than I do now.
What would I suddenly do much less of? The things that overstress me and keep me up late at night – the commitments that are too many to reasonably (and sanely) handle, and trying to maintain friendships with people who pull me down instead of inspiring and lifting me up.
What would I stop spending money on? Things I know I won’t use – either in the present or the future – the books, CDs and other “training programs” that could make me money if I used them, but will instead sit on the bookshelf because they don’t fit with what I really want to be doing, like writing children’s books.
The problem is not that people get into debt starting their business it is that they give up when they hit a low point. They get to a point that they don’t believe that they can persist. That is when it is most necessary.
The amount of stress causes by instant gratification is just not worth the little moments of pleasure.
Rather delay what you want now and enjoy it when you really can afford it.
Keep On Keeping On!
Drikus Botha – Personal Development For Smart Network Marketers
“When I feel centered” you write. What activities are you doing when you feel most centered?
Mike – you write “The problem is not that people get into debt starting their business it is that they give up when they hit a low point.”
True, but not always. One also needs to know when to quit, or when to change direction. Think?
You write “Rather delay what you want now and enjoy it when you really can afford it.”
A very different attitude than what the advertisers want you to do, huh? Spend spend spend. “Because you’re worth it” they say. That has to be one of the most effective and manipulative lines in the advertising world. It has nothing to do with your worth. But setting priorities, like you seem to be saying.