Well of course money is A problem and a huge one at that.
It’s just not THE only problem and there’s something bigger and deeper that I want you to look at.
What I mean more specifically is that debt is not the ROOT of the problem.
Rather, lack of money and debt are the most obvious symptoms of the problem.
So, what’s the REAL problem? Well, the real problem underlying the debt levels of most of our clients, students and subscribers ultimately centers around contentment.
So, as we dive into the concept, let's define some terms so we're all on the same page.
Here's Merriam-Webster's definition of contented and contentment:
: feeling or showing satisfaction with one's possessions, status, or situation
: the quality or state of being contented
Now, to be clear, there are plenty of other reasons that people go into debt (i.e. “keeping up with The Joneses”, not willing to be disciplined with money, feelings of hopelessness, addiction, etc.) so I’m not saying that contentment is the only one.
I’m just saying that it’s probably the biggest underlying cause of most people’s debt that I have seen as a coach.
Remember, 78% of workers in the US live paycheck to paycheck. That means almost 8 out of 10 people we run into every day are one paycheck away from a financial catastrophe.
Sheryl Crow famously wrote in her catchy little tune, 'Soak Up The Sun', “it’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”
I think that summarizes contentment pretty well, don’t you?
You have to take stock of what you already have and cultivate the experience of some level of satisfaction with it,
That way you can begin to curb this insatiable desire to go spend money you don’t have (i.e. credit and debt) on stuff you don’t really need (i.e. "junk" that you're probably going to have to liquidate in the future to try and pay down your debt).
Around here we focus A LOT on the strategies and tactics around getting you out of debt, and don’t get me wrong, that’s super important in a culture that, in my opinion, has been indoctrinated into utter financial illiteracy.
But the REAL problem that absolutely needs to be addressed is the problem of contentment, or lack thereof in most cases.
A while back I did a piece on the documentary (and book) The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Do Not Need.
I actually wrote an extensive post on How To Abandon "Upscaling" And Dump Your Debt.
The truth is that it’s hard to be content when you’re constantly surrounded by, and bombarded with messages from the marketing industrial complex as well as The Joneses (who have really become the (Bill) Gateses).
But you have to reframe your thinking in a way that inoculates you from even being tempted by this hyper-consumerism.
Getting completely free of debt is totally possible. I want to show you how.
Lack of contentment leads to all sorts of bad business: debt, stress, anxiety, depression, insolvency, divorce and most tragically, even suicide.
This is exactly what we want to avoid.
This is a HUGE part of the reason I became a financial coach myself.
I experienced the anxiety, depression and hopelessness that debt foisted on me.
I got out of it using the principles I now teach and I want to help you do the same.
It's not an easy process to engage in, but I can assure the results of being able to live a debt-free life are more amazing than words can describe (The Incomparable Feeling Of Being Completely Debt Free).
Let me lead you, coach you and show you how.
The easy answers:
That’s really it! BUT, it’s not easy. I know, I’ve plunged into the trap myself and had to wrangle my way out of it (check out $43k Paid Off!).
The first thing we have to address typically is debt.
Let’s talk about how we do that, shall we?
0. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)2. Starter Emergency Fund of $10003. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)4. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses5. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)6. College Funding (if applicable)7. Pay Off The Home Mortgage8. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!