We live in a society where instant gratification almost seems a prerequisite to what we eat, wear, do or buy. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?
I was helping a friend sort her storage closets today and it became crystal clear to me – again – that sometimes, instant gratification can lead to a lot of heartache.
This is the 3rd time, since I’ve known her, that she’s undertaken the task of sorting her belongings, to make her living space livable. The other 2 times, she paid someone else to do it for her, so she didn’t have to deal with it. Both times, the mess came right back.
This time, those closest to her managed to convince her that if this was going to be a permanent change, she needed to have a big hand in doing it herself. Taking the easy way out obviously wasn’t working! We were all there to lend a helping hand, but she had to stay in the moment and take control.
I see the same thing happen a lot with money, and it breaks my heart. People get so far into debt because instant gratification feels great…in the moment! It becomes such a normal, accepted part of life that, before we know it, we’re in way over our heads. It feels insurmountable – like an entire home filled with stuff, piled so high you can no longer see the countertops; spread so far you can no longer see the carpet.
You want out from under the weight so badly, you’re desperate – ready to take any help that comes your way! Bankruptcy invites a welcome new beginning! The debt management programs you see on TV seem like a godsend! If you’re really lucky, your long lost uncle leaves you an inheritance large enough to wipe away all your debt!
Now what? “I’ll never do that again!” Famous last words…until something comes along that’s just out of your reach and all you have to do is pull out that piece of plastic. It’s ok, you’ll only do it this once – and since you have no other debt, it’s not a problem!
Now the floodgates open and debt returns with a vengeance – faster and heavier than ever before! How did this happen again? The slate was wiped clean – a fresh start! But now, you’re right back where you were before. Except this time, you don’t have an inheritance to bail you out. And you can’t help but think about all the other ways you could have used that money – if only it hadn’t been for the debt!
Sometimes, you have to do the work in order to reap the true reward. There’s a difference between help and a bailout. If you need help figuring out how to pay off debt and budget your money, seek it out! But if you’re looking for a bailout, think twice! That kind of “help” can backfire, the same as someone who uses surgery to lose weight but doesn’t change their eating habits.
Make sure you’re getting help to help yourself. A bailout feels good in the moment, but it can be a gateway to more distress. If you’re hurting financially and wishing for a miracle, stop daydreaming and be the miracle! We all have what it takes to better our financial lives – regardless of our income or current situation.
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