I absolutely love this time of year. The anticipation of Advent, the joy of sharing Christmas morning with my own little family, and a chance for all of us to breathe a little easier and take stock of our year. It's been a big one in the Collins household and I hope that you've had a fun year as well.
Many of my posts this month have us looking towards 2015 and considering how we can do it even better in the New Year. Certainly I want us both to move beyond flippant resolutions and instead implement long-term strategic goals. More importantly, I want us to meet back up here on the blog next December and celebrate the fruits of the work that we've done this month.
I want to focus today on something that's very near and dear to my heart, and that's also something that I haven't been the best at this year. Finances make our world move, that's something that none of us would dispute. While money shouldn't be our god, it is the means to provide food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and comfort to both us and our family. We're all money managers and, as such, we have the duty to do it well.
Unlike other types of goals, we all have financial related goals, whether we acknowledge them or not. We want to go on vacation, buy a new computer, get our kids that outdoor swing set or get out of debt. For Alison and I, our #1 goal right now is getting out of debt.
Like other goals, we wisely recognize that we can't do it alone. We knew that we needed to get some outside counsel to help us figure out the best way to reach this goal. We've got a big hole, and an ever growing shovel, but we know that if we aren't good money managers, that money will disappear and not help us pay down debt. We turned to Dave Ramsey who has an extensive line-up of products, classes, and services to help us.
One of Dave's teaching tools is what he calls "Gazelle Intensity." The gazelle is the prey of the fastest animal on land, the cheetah. Yet, despite their frequent interactions, the gazelle escapes the majority of the time. It does so by outmaneuvering the cheetah. In the illustration, it's reveled that if we want to get out of debt, we need to be the gazelle. The cheetah represents many different enemies of financial stability: immaturity, credit marketing, impatience, reckless spending, and whatever that "next big thing" is. If we want to be successful, we have to outmaneuver those wants and focus on the goal.
I don't know what your financial goal is, but I do know that if you want to reach it, you'll need to be disciplined and it will take time. Why not make next year the Year of the Gazelle?
What if, for just 1 year, you poured all of your focus into reaching your financial goal? You'd have to eat at home more, spend less, and maybe even postpone that vacation. It would be hard, that's for sure. You'd not only face the battle of wants, you'd face the battle of attrition. January would be easy, but by September, you'd be fatigued.
Right there, in that scenario, is the secret to success. Yes, in the short term, it would be hard to save money to buy a new TV as opposed to putting it on your credit card. But, if you save your money and pay cash, it will only take you 12 months. If you put it on your credit card, you could be paying for it for 3 years!
The secret is realizing that, while more painful on the front end, you'll spend less time overall dealing with the goal. If Alison and I pay off her student loans in 5 years, that will save us 15 years of paying on them on the back end!
It takes maturity, it takes discipline, and more than anything, it takes wisdom. It takes the wisdom to understand that the pain will be less if you just rip the bandaid off instead of a slow pull.
That's my challenge to you for today. You know what financial goal you want to hit, so sit down, talk to your wife, and decide to make 2015 the Year of the Gazelle.