This post is part of the one day blog event “The Spectrum of Personal Finance.” In this event, comic book nerd Brian of My Next Buck, will discuss 8 different emotions (taken from the Green Lantern comic series) and relate them to personal finance. Here at Debt Free Adventure we will be looking at Willpower. To view the rest of the event look at the bottom of the page to see the other blogs hosting articles.
14 months ago I was a clueless 24 year-old. I was $10,000 in credit card debt struggling to remember to pay the bills, struggling to remember to pay my student loans, all while living with a gambling addiction. While in the midst of all this, it was my older brother who turned me on to the personal finance blogosphere. He had taken a small interest in getting his finances in order and thought it was high time I do the same. And he was right. Since that time what has ensued has been an adventure of epic proportions – an adventure that has taken me through the gamut of emotional highs and lows. It is part of that journey that I wish to share with you here today.
As mentioned above… today on Debt Free Adventure I will focus on the aspect of willpower – specifically how increased discipline matched with increased automation have helped fuel my financial rebirth.
During those dark days referenced above, the hardest thing for me was not to break my addiction to gambling. More accurately, for me the toughest part was getting out of bed every morning to go to work, knowing I had just blown an entire paycheck in one blackjack hand at an online casino!
The Ignorant, Unemployed, and Lucky (That would be me)
When I began reading the Personal Finance sites, I wasn’t in a position to hear the things being preached. I didn’t care about my finances. I knew that as soon as I got “that next job” that would pay me what I thought I was worth I would be able to get my finances in order.
Then it happened. I got laid off.
Luckily I was able to find another job pretty quickly. I had a month until my start date and decided if I was ever to quit gambling… now was the time. But, who wants to quit cold turkey? So I placed one final bet on a football game. If I won I would cut my debt almost in half, if I lost, I’d have finished paying off my debt in September instead of February. I was stupid… and lucky.
Willing Myself to Change
Here I am today, 14 months later, writing for you as a changed man. I didn’t think I had the strength to cease my ways of hyper consumption… nor to kick my gambling habit. Well friends, I was able to do just that! Very similar to Matt, I have taken my energy and focus, and have shifted it toward my financial life. I realize now that I was a pawn to my addictions. Have I truly kicked those bad habits for good? I’m not sure. All I know is, each day I wake up and will myself not to be the old Brian. And I can honestly say that I much prefer being the new Brian!
The new Brian that:
- Chooses to Automate his finances rather than ignore his finances
- Addresses his bad habits and attempts to change them rather than continuing therein
- Educates himself on personal finance matters rather than choosing not to care
- Prepares for the future by saving for retirement rather than squandering earnings at the blackjack tables
- Prepares for a rainy day by building an emergency fund rather than ignoring future security
While long-term personal finance success requires ever increasing levels of self-discipline… getting started takes willpower!
Making a Change
It took me looking at myself in the mirror and getting mad enough to reenact Howard Beale by shouting:
I’m mad as heck and I’m not going to take it anymore!
I firmly believe that each person has enough willpower inside of them to overcome every challenging situation they face. With regards to finances, I assure you, expending some of your willpower and energy to improve your financial life one day at a time is worth it. Every sacrifice you make seems smaller and smaller as you continue along the path to reaching your goals. While the sacrifices seem to shrink the goals seem to grow – in both importance and scale.
Specifically regarding addictions… they are not easy to kick, especially if you are trying to curb those habits alone. Sometimes, having the willpower to ask others for help can be the action that is needed to get you started down the right path.
*Matt’s note: The bible holds untold wisdom for those struggling with addiction, as well as for those looking to achieve great things. Do not forget to consult this invaluable resource!
Reflecting on Progress
For those who have willed themselves to a position of better standing (having a plan to get out of debt, curb spending, and start or increase saving) take this time to reflect upon where you were then compared to where you are today… and be proud of yourself! Just think… in two days you’ll be able to transfer that pride to thankfulness as you celebrate thanksgiving!
For those thinking of making a change or perhaps just started down the financial well-being, I suggest you buckle in and prepare yourself for an awesome journey. While it will not be easy… it will be an adventure! Remember – your desire to become debt free combined with your willpower to execute a plan of action will help propel you to reach your goals.
For further reading of Brian’s Spectrum of Personal Finance Event, please see:
- Fear at Bargaineering
- Hope at Budgets are Sexy
- Avarice at Consumerism Commentary
- Willpower at Debt Free Adventure
- Death at Free Money Finance
- Compassion at Get Rich Slowly
- Love at Mrs. Micah
- Rage at Poorer Than You
To view a recap of the event, check out the Spectrum Roundup at My Next Buck
Very well put Brian. With out the willpower to change, change will never happen. I like how you use to have “the next job” frame of mind and have changed it. The next job and the higher pay just increase the amount of debt and elevates one’s lifestyle. Without the willpower to change your habits, you would probably just be in more debt.
Great Job, on to the next post…
Lydia aka Ms. MoneyChat says
awesome post. i couldn’t agree more with this line, “I firmly believe that each person has enough willpower inside of them to overcome every challenging situation they face.” ditto!
Inspiring story Brian! One of the advantages of weblogs like DFA is that they provide a forum–a support group if you will–for people struggling with different issues.
In the “real world” we all put on our happy faces, ask “how are you?” to people we meet–never truly caring or daring to listen to hear a serious answer–and put forth a demeanor that says “everythings just great in my life”. All of this is reinforced by so many others around us doing the same thing.
But here in the blogging world, we can come and read stories about real life struggles. Not only do these stories help us find tactics for our own struggles, but perhaps just as important, they let us know we aren’t alone with our own issues.
It takes courage and a desire to help others to write a post like this, but it’s so uplifting for so many.
Having the willpower within is key to help motivate you. On wahtever aspect of life, you need that internal drive to push you to success.
@Jeff – glad you are digging the series, and happy to see you hopping from site to site
@Lydia – its amazing what us humans are capable of isn’t it?
@Kevin – i couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the compliments, and i hope it is uplifting for others.
Mrs. Money says
Go, go, go! Keep up the good work! I think your attitude is amazing!
Financial Samurai says
Brian – Really good of you to kick that gambling habit. I know how hard that can be, as I have some of my own obsessive habits myself i.e. my site!
You’re dominating PF land today, great job!
Hats off to you for listening to your brother and choosing a different path for your life. I have family members who have and still struggle with addictions and it is no easy task. Keep your time spent on the right things and you’ll continue to succeed. My family member once told me that you don’t have to change must to overcome addiction, just “everything” Have a great Thanksgiving.
Jose Paclibare | Christian business says
What an inspiring story Brian! Thanks too Matt for your note: “The bible holds untold wisdom for those struggling with addiction, as well as for those looking to achieve great things. Do not forget to consult this invaluable resource!”
As a Christian, I recognize that the so-called “willpower” may not be enough for me. But I firmly stand on God’s truth that “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives me strength”.
God bless you Brian and Matt.
Jose O. Paclibare
I stumbled onto your blog while visiting a gambling info site, of all things. I really appreciate the things you wrote about in dealing with addiction, and I do believe in the Bible.
Long story-short, I feel like I have no excuse. I’ve been to GA meetings, have talked with people who are reformed gamblers, have tried to replace the thrill of a possible win with other, more meaningful things, and have prayed desperately for a way to stop the cycle. Just when I think that I have the addiction under control, I cave-in and buy a winning scratch off and it all starts up again!
I went from being a big winner at a casino years ago, to buying scratch offs now in hopes of making ends meet with winners. I am now unemployed, alone, broke and too numb or embarrassed to say anything to anyone. I hadn’t realized how I’ve slipped back into the rut until I read your post.
Thank you, Brian.
Matt Jabs says
GA will probably help, but be sure you read the bible daily. Your addiction will never go away so renewing your commitment daily is the key. Godspeed and God bless.