When it comes to finances, be accountable

When it comes to finances, be accountable

You probably lived under a rock if you didn’t hear at least one person say something along the lines of “thanks a lot 2020” when something bad happened last year.

I am sure I said it a couple of times, but it was meaningless to say something like that because the actual year 2020 had nothing to do with a flat tire on your car or you slipping and falling on ice. I know the year brought financial hardship for a lot of people across the nation, but there is a lot of times we like to blame our financial situation on outside forces, and when that happens, it looks like a bad situation never seems to be our fault.

We can blame our parents for not teaching us how to use money or blame our job for not giving us enough money, but it will come down to you as a person as the only one accountable for your financial situation. Proverbs 26:27 summarizes it best when it says, “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.” Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, like marriage. Both you and your spouse share the responsibility, but we aren’t talking about the exceptions in this article.

Michael Josephson famously said, “You are what you are today because of the choices you made yesterday, and the choices you make today will make you what you are tomorrow. Take control of your life. Choose wisely.” He was applying it to life in general, but it can be applied to finances as well.

Financial wellness is a day-after-day journey, and being defensive and thinking about the future in your present decisions is something most of us (including me) can work on. I’m not here to get on my soapbox to say the $4 you spend on that morning cup of coffee could be invested instead and make you millions over the course of a lifetime, but look at some of the negative spending habits in your life currently that are hurting your future self. Those “just this one time” purchases can add up over a year when they start becoming more and more regular.

Eating out is one of my weaknesses, especially with how accessible fast-food restaurants are, even in our little towns. There’s been an old joke that reminds that our parents always told us there was food at home when we asked for McDonald’s as children, but now that we’re adults, we must give ourselves the same speech. We have to tell ourselves and heighten the self-control, to say that the leftover chicken from last night will do us just as well, if not better, than a Big Mac and fries.

Then the excuses come: It’s been a long week/month/year. I deserve this. I work hard for my money; I can spend it how I want. And the ever-famous “it was on sale so I am actually saving money.” These excuses will never help your accountability to yourself because they remove you as the person at fault. They give blame to your situation, to the environment around you, but never to your decision-making. Once the credit card bill or the decreased bank account crosses your eyes, the excuses become regretful.

Once it is realized you are the one responsible for your financial well-being, it is freeing to know you are the cause and also can be the solution to the state you are in. Responsibility makes you accountable, knowing you put yourself in this position and knowing you can pull yourself out as well by self-discipline and wise decision-making.

Holmes County native BJ Yoder is an insurance agent by day and a finance enthusiast by night. This column is for informational purposes only. He can be emailed at benjamin.john.yoder@gmail.com.

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