I've been working on another post (on excuses) for several days now. There are so many of them, that it has been hard to capture it all in a post. Then this morning I woke up to a quote by Dave on Facebook that reminded me of an overwhelming theme to all the excuses...
"Not until the pain of the same is greater than the pain of change will you embrace change." - Dave Ramsey
People are so afraid of change. I see it all the time when I start talking to people about Financial Peace. Of the 101 excuses that people have, it all boils down to a fear of change. People get so comfortable in what they know (and what they have been told for years) that it creates a huge barrier to trying some thing new. It's partially fear, partially ignorance, partially stubbornness. It's hard to step out of your comfort zone.
Just like I was resistant to giving up my own personal bank account, there are many aspects of finances that people are hesitant to change. And Dave's Financial Peace University challenges all those norms. Give up your financial Independence? Stop saving? Stop investing? Stop caring about your credit score? Seriously? Is this guy NUTS? YES! Yes he is. And very proud of it. I can't remember the exact quote, but he says when people think you are crazy you must be doing some thing right. Because, lets be honest, the "norms" of our society haven't exactly been working for us. Have they? (Dave borrows that question from Phil often, "So. How is that working for you?) And, yet, the fear of change still prevents people from really working at obtaining Financial Peace.
Even people who buy in to Dave's program often put up road blocks that get in the way. There always seems to be at least one area of his formula that people don't agree with, and they either use this as an excuse not to get started or they just 'do their own thing' for that aspect as they try to do the rest. I've been known to tell people, "Oh. That's okay. You need to do what you are comfortable with. It's okay to modify the program." As I look back, though, I'm not sure I fully buy in to that statement. All that really is is fear. Fear that taking all your money (except $1000 from your savings will leave you in trouble if there is an emergency. Fear that if you give up so much, you won't stick to the program. Fear that if you cut up that last credit card, you might regret it later. Fear of change.
I can say this, because I've been there too. Even just recently I said to Tim, "I just don't see why we should invest 15% of our income. That seems like WAY too much." Tim said we could modify it. I'm sure he was just saying that because he figures any thing is better than nothing - that's why I tell people I talk to that it's okay to modify the program. But, then I came to my senses. Dave's formula has worked really well for us so far. Why change it now?
Some may say, "Yeah, but you and Tim modified the program." Actually, we didn't really modify it. It was hard for us to take every thing out of our savings except the $1000 we transferred to a money market account, but we did it. It was really hard for Tim to put his 401(k) on hold and stop investing, but we did it. It was hard for us to put off all the things we wanted (like new furniture, vacations, clothes, cars,etc), but we did. If it was some thing important enough to us, we saved and paid for it in cash. The only thing we didn't really do is live on rice and beans and throw EVERY penny at our debt. But, I think our record speaks for itself. We were still VERY aggressive with or debt. We still lived on one income. We still made hard choices - and faced difficult changes.
Even now, I'm not saying you should let small issues prevent you from at least starting the program. Doing some thing is better than doing nothing. What I am saying, though, is to ask yourself the hard questions, "Why don't you want to do that part of the program? Is it really just a fear of change? How is that working for you? Is it worth letting yourself get to the point of "pain" before you are willing to embrace that change?" And, if you do start the program and just modify one of the parts of the formula, be sure to go back and ask yourself these same questions periodically. As you get rolling and start seeing real program, maybe you will realize (as we have) that there is a reason this formula has worked for thousands of people. If it's not broken, why fix it?