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Put More Water in the Soup

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Many years ago, I went into (high-interest) debt to help a friend keep her home. She was battling a Worker’s Compensation insurance company for the settlement to which she was clearly entitled, and they were jerking her around, making her sue them in court every time they owed her something. Anyway, it was my first taste of living with massive debt.

When they finally paid her what they owed her, she paid me back. Instead of blowing that big check, I paid off my massive debt.

It felt so amazingly good to be free of it that I haven’t had any long-term debt since. (Long-term debt is a contract for more than a year. I bought a new vehicle in 2002 and financed it for twelve months.) And I’ve been saving a large portion of my paycheck for years, too.

So the $4-a-gallon gasoline didn’t bother me. The current “credit crunch” can’t really touch me. I didn’t buy a poorly-built, overpriced McMansion with a subprime mortgage, either.

All around me, though, are people who make two to five times my annual salary and who don’t have a pot in which to urinate. And people who are absolutely flat broke who trade their food stamps for snacks and sodas and spend their government stipend on expensive skin care products and cell phone contracts.

The only thing I can think of that separates me from them is that I’ve been where they are, I’ve been where they aren’t, and I know which one works better. They’ve just been where they are.

In times like these, get-rich-quick schemes really do well… for the grifters who purvey them, that is. And I’ve been active in online NLP forums for ages, so I’ve seen hundreds of “How can I use NLP to get rich?” messages. I just recently responded to one about that so-called “Law of Attraction” nonsense, and since I didn’t get a response I’m guessing I wrote something the poster didn’t want to read. I wish they’d include a disclaimer that said “Only reinforce my delusions, please. No reality checks welcome.”

The funny thing is, even if it all worked, even if all this “huge income with little effort” stuff actually paid off, it wouldn’t help. If you make a million dollars a year and you spend a million dollars and fifty cents, you’re still broke. No matter how big your bucket or how cool and sweet the water with which you fill it, if there are big holes in it you’re going to be thirsty all the time.

So for a little while, let’s put aside our money-making strategies and work on some money-keeping strategies.

There’s a blog called No Credit Needed and I encourage you to read it all. The author started from debt-plus-no-savings and worked his way to financial stability, and he chronicled his journey. Excellent stuff. First-class exemplar of the skill. In a post today, he offers up the10 basic steps he followed to escape the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

There are good books, too, like The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. (FYI: those are links.)

Shop around at local or regional banks, too, for your banking services. They’re less likely to have been caught with their scruples down and are doing a bit better right now.

If we’re going to fix this economy, we have to do it the way we do everything else: go first.

Oh, by the way: stay safe at work. Being screwed by Worker’s Comp is no way to live!

Written by Michael DeBusk

December 4th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

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