Thursday, December 10, 2009

Putting It All Together – Part 7 Five Easy Steps to Financial Ruin, and Why We Took Them

I really don’t like this topic, so don’t expect too many entries on this one. It seems like all the conversations about it are a lament on how I just don’t have enough. Yep, you guessed it – money.

As I am sure most of you have figured out by now, money is a big deal. We have to have it if we are going to finance our dreams, visions, or survival, but the truth is we often make it a bigger deal than it has to be. Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe we need to be good stewards of our finances, but I don’t think that means we have to obsess over them. And if you figure out how to achieve that balance, let me know.

I think sometimes we put off our dreams until we can afford them, but dreams are like children. If you wait until you can afford them you will never have them. The people who have both are usually the ones who found themselves in the position of simply being told one day they had better gear up, adventure ahead. Now to paraphrase Louis L’Amour, adventure is the romantic name we give hardship when it happens to someone else.

And that what this is – hardship, tough times, big and scary moments, and the most fearsome beast you may ever face. But hey, no monsters, no monster slayers. Right?
Oh, I was talking about money.

I wish that I could tell you to command money to come to you through faith, that a certain prayer prayed three times a day, or even that a special internet offer would guarantee you financial success so that you can pursue your dream. I can tell you that if you will mail $2.50 to Emily Underwood-King, I will send you the instructions on how to get five fools to send you $2.50. Barring that I have no great get rich quick schemes, at least none that are legal.

I wish I could tell you that if you just follow your heart God will let a distant rich uncle who had fond memories of you as baby die off and leave his giant oil fortune to you, but if you are like me, all of your relatives are broke and probably don’t even like you that much.

So let me give it to you straight. If your dream is really that important to you, you will invest –everything. Your time, money, energy, blood, sweat, and tears all go into it. You begin saying no to that great pair of Italian heels- even if they are on sale, and know that that money represents one printing of fliers and posters or three days of Facebook ads. You do without the chocolates, even if they are just M&M’s because that is the cost of new ink pens.

There will be times when you take a leap, schedule something, commit to something, and then pray, “Dear God, how are we ever going to afford it?”, but you do it anyway because something in your gut tells you it is the right thing to do. You become creative, learning what sort of things you really do need, and things you just want. Believe it or not you can survive without cable, internet access in your home, and Starbucks. Ramen Noodles aren’t all that bad and Folgers can be an acquired taste.

You figure out how to pace yourself – translation, you only do things as you can afford it. We have all sorts of blow your mind ideas, but we are still waiting to make enough money to bring them to you. We have had to learn how to resist the urge to do everything at once, simply because the money is not there, and I don’t think it has been a bad thing.

Now don’t go and be stupid, because I know someone out there is trying to break this down into three easy steps. Let me save you some work.

1.Put everything you have into your dream.
2.Sacrifice all comforts in life.
3.Over commit yourself financially.
4.Pray God will show up.
5.Pace yourself.

There are five easy steps, and if you do them in this order, you are almost assured of filing bankruptcy in no time. Let me repeat, don’t do it this way! If you do then the list will ultimately look like this –

1.Delusions of grandeur
2.Martyr syndrome
3.Manic spending
4.Vain attempts to manipulate God.

So if this isn’t how to do it, why admit to this is how we did it? Because this is what we felt led to do. We spent a lot of time in prayer and preparation for this, and this time it worked. Maybe next time we will do something completely different. It is called walking in faith for a reason, there are no fool proof formulas. Formulas mean you control the outcome, but God isn’t in to that. In fact, He’s pretty big on being the one in charge of things, even the money.

And who knows, maybe next time, some forgotten rich uncle will leave me fortune. You never can predict what God will do.

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