I had to pay a speeding ticket today. A very expensive speeding ticket. And it got me thinking about money.
Okay...so maybe I was already thinking about money. I was thinking about how debt is the other enemy of originality. And not just debt--sometimes spending in general can be the antagonist.
What I mean is that the most common obstacle standing in the way of living differently is money. How many of us would make different choices with our time if money were no object? Probably about 99% of us.
Money, of course, is an object. A very important one. And we can't just ignore it. But there are two errors in judgment I often see people make when it comes to their money--errors that prevent them from even having the option of making original choices.
The first error is an obvious one: outspending your income. Otherwise known as debt. Debt is not just terrible because it costs you A Lot of extra money over time via high interest rates. And causes stress. And damages relationships.
Debt is also terrible because it places harsh limits on your choices. Like forcing you to work in a job you hate--or for more hours than you'd like--because you need the income to pay bills.
Debt is bad. You get it, I know.
The other error is sneakier. Because it is not about overspending your income, which is fairly easy to diagnose. It is about overspending your goals. Maybe you have plenty of cash to pay your bills from month to month, which is good. But you are also spending a lot of money on things you don't necessarily need. This isn't bad per se, except when that money could open up doors instead.
What I mean is that if you have the goal of staying home someday with your kids--your kids who aren't even born yet because you're twenty three and just out of college--and you are spending your money today with no mind to that goal, you're overspending. It seems harsh to say, but it's true. If a goal is really important to you, but you don't factor it into your spending and saving plan NOW...chances are good that when the time comes to achieve that goal, you won't have the cash.
The bottom line is that living originally usually means making unconventional choices. And those choices often require financial strategy and planning. Because if you don't plan to be unique, your budget will make the decision for you--and it will almost always choose the status quo.
And finally, if you don't pay attention to street signs and happen to get snagged by the police while driving your bright yellow car at twice the speed limit...well then you've also made an error in financial judgment.
A big one.