Ruth talked last week about Fruclassity Commandment #1: Wake Up. Equally difficult and yet incredibly freeing is Fruclassity Commandment #2: Take Responsibility. My husband and I were masters for years at breaking the second commandment of Fruclassity. Our many financial woes were always somebody else’s/some circumstance’s fault. First, it was my layoff that caused them. Then it was that Rick didn’t make enough (in our eyes. If you make more than $15,000 a year you’re in the top 10% wealthiest in the world.) money. Then it was Rick’s job layoff. Or “this” circumstance. Or the next. Every time we were confronted with the sorry state of our finances we had a plethora of excuses ready to whip out as to why it wasn’t our fault, and how it wasn’t fair that we had less/made less than everyone else and were expected to live life differently.
But as we started to get sick and tired of being sick and tired, and started educating ourselves on the ways of proper money management, the excuses we used began to no longer hold water. I’d read statements like:
“We got out of $30,000 in debt on a $50,000 income.”
“We only made $40,000 a year, but we paid off our house early.”
“We lost our one income due to a job layoff but since we’d chosen to live without debt and build an emergency fund the layoff didn’t affect us.”
“We chose to live in a smaller house and not waste money so that we could be debt free and retire early.”
Everywhere I looked, people were explaining how “choices” made the difference between struggling financially and flourishing financially. And we started to realize that if we truly wanted a secure financial life, that we’d only get there by first taking responsibility for past mistakes.
No, the layoffs weren’t our fault, but if we’d managed money well from the beginning, we’d have had a healthy savings account and the layoffs wouldn’t have hurt us. We could’ve lived off of unemployment and savings.
No, we didn’t make a ton of money by American standards, but others were living on less and building wealth by cutting out unnecessary expenses. If they could do it, we could too. No more excuses.
Fruclassity Commandment #2: Take responsibility for your personal finances. Acknowledge the influences outside of your control that are impacting your money, but don’t focus on these things. Direct your focus upon the areas where you DO have power to improve your situation. Take ownership of the mistakes you’ve made and the bad patterns of financial behavior that you’ve adopted. It can be tough to be honest with yourself, but your honesty is what will allow you to change your situation.
The more we studied and learned about how successful people at all income levels were succeeding financially, the more we realized that the ONLY way we would truly achieve the financial life we wanted to have would be to first wake up to our situation, and to second, take responsibility for our situation.
Those weeks and months following our decision to wake up to the debt mess we were in and to take responsibility for the decisions that created that debt mess, were some tough months. Every day we had to face the mess we’d created and combat the guilt, the shame and the frustration with ourselves as we worked our plan to get out of debt.
Eventually, though, we forgave ourselves and chose to keep moving forward with our plan to become debt free. We aren’t there yet, but like Ruth and her hubby, we’re in control and we’ve made progress. We’re seeing the fruits of our commitment to take responsibility for our debt and to change our situation. And with each month that we stick to the plan, the weight of our debt gets lighter and the stress level is reduced.
Like the quote in the image above says, responsibility is the thing people dread most of all. I think it’s because responsibility forces us to take an honest look at the man or woman in the mirror, and if we do that, we might not like what we see. That’s tough stuff. But the good news is that once we take responsibility for the decisions made by the person in the mirror, we can make the choice to change into the person we really want to be. And that, my friend, is an awesome thing.
Have you taken responsibility for your finances yet? What have been some of the obstacles you’ve had to deal with as you face the man or woman in the mirror?