Getting out of debt gets old. Believe me, I know.
Even though we’ve had our finances under control for a few years now, the sting of not being able to pay all the bills is still fresh in my mind and my heart. I never, ever want to be there again so I remain a careful manager of the money God has entrusted to us. Plus, as a financial stewardship pastor, it’s important to me that I practice what I preach and that I’m coming up with new tools and resources to help the families in my care get out of debt, build their savings and maintain their marriages in the process.
I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help make the process easier for my coaching clients, but I’m going to give you my favorite right now: I call it Hangin’ with Uncle Benjamin.
It works like this: Go to the bank and withdraw $100, and ask the teller for the newest, crispest, nicest $100 bill she’s got in her drawer. Put it in your wallet where it’s visible every time you go to pay for something.
When we’re fighting an impulse to buy something, most of the time those little impulses cost less than $100. Saying no to a new pair of shoes, fancy coffee maker, cool jeans (on sale!) or whatever else catches your eye can feel a little sad when you’ve been on a budget for what feels like a million billion years. Say no over and over again and you can easily develop a poverty mentality, which simply means you start to feel irrationally poor even as your finances are getting healthier.
But having Uncle Benjamin in your wallet turns that whole “saying no” experience on it’s head. You’re not saying no because you don’t have the money or because you’re on a budget, you’re saying no because you like hanging with Uncle Benjamin.
Uncle Benjamin is awesome. He’s smiling. He’s always happy to see you and he always makes you smile a little back when you see him. It’s going to take something radically amazing to get you to part with Uncle Benjamin. You’ll find yourself saying no to the little impulses with much less heaviness on your heart because you’ve simply made a choice, rather than deprived yourself of something.
If you’re new at this budgeting/getting out of debt thing, it may be hard to come up with an Uncle Benjamin, but sell stuff on Craigslist, have a garage sale, work extra hours, whatever it takes to connect with your new friend.
After all, getting out of debt isn’t easy and it takes an emotional toll. And a $100 investment in your mental health is much cheaper than therapy.