For many it is a struggle to look at their budget or net worth, especially when they are in the red (deficit). They find any reason not to look at the numbers from “I am too busy” to “What is the use because no one will be me a decent wage”. Thus, they keep the struggle going by avoiding their financial situation.
A big step forward to financial prosperity is to accept the situation for what it is. This means no blaming, no waiting to the situation out there to improve and no pushing it off to someone else to fix. As President Truman once said “The Buck Stops Here”. For many, this can be intimidating because it means that they are responsible for what is going on in their lives. We as a society tend to try to attach blame to a distressing situation. Thus, we try to find an escape goat so that the blame does not fall on us. The word “accept” is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary to endure without protest or reaction. Accepting a situation for what is doesn’t include blame, anger or upset.
Accepting what is can be very freeing because by protesting and blaming others we are just reliving the situation over and over again instead of fixing it. As I write this line, a light bulb came one because when you accept something as is, there is nothing that needs to be fixed. Am I saying that if you are in debt that you shouldn’t fix it? No, yet sometimes the struggle starts when we feel that a goal (such as debt reduction) is a burden that is weighing on our shoulders that needs attention. Thus, it seems harder to get to where you want to go, creating a struggle. I have been thinking about how people say that finance is a struggle especially when it is said to those who are trying to get motivated to tackle their debt. There is a part of me that feels that people need to get off their duff and take charge of their financial lives (in other words need to work at it or struggle if needed). There is another part of me that when I hear that something as a struggle, I want to say why bother. Why would someone struggling in debt want to struggle trying to get out of debt. Sounds like damn if you do and damn if you don’t situation.
This is where acceptance is important. Instead of trying to blame others and by doing so making the situation look hopeless (such as “How can I overcome overwhelming odds like living on minimum wage?”), it is removing all blame, anger and upset. Why be angry at living on minimum wage? It is what it is. Now, you can choose one of several options to have things be different in the future (e.g., decrease spending, get a second job, work overtime, go back to school, train for a new position via the internet, etc.). For me, it seems easier to accept the situation and pick one of the options than to create a situation where it is a struggle to get out of (such as thinking “businesses just want to use and abuse their workers via paying minimum wage”).
It is easier said than done, I know. I never lived on minimum wage after college, thus I will probably lose a lot of credibility in what I am trying to say because I can not walk in others shoes. I have had my set of situations that I lived through. I worked 60-70 hour weeks during summer vacation to pay most of my own way through college. I doubled up on some classes my last year in college, so I could graduate in 3 years to avoid going into debt (plus I couldn’t justify paying the tuition for the professors I had). I am blind in one eye. I know that when I dwelled on a situation and thinking how bad things were, I created a downward spiral for myself. It got hard to get the work done that was in front of me. When I accepted the situation for what it is (e.g., being blind in one eye) and practice forgiveness, the anger, upset and blame went away allowing me extra energy to pursue opportunities that opened up.
Acceptance is not the same as giving in (e.g., taking a position at a company that wants to treat its workers unfairly). Giving in is relinquishing our power to change a situation. Acceptance is say this is what is and what can I do differently now. For example, I recently had a property tax dispute. Because I recently bought my house, my tax value was about 33% to 40% higher than comparable houses around me (where the owner lived in their homes for 10+ years) but only a little bit higher than other homes that had recently sold. I sent in a letter of protest that did not elicit any response. Because my thoughts went back to the situation, it was hard for me to get work done at times. Once I accepted the situation for what it is (new home owners have a higher tax value than others), I wrote another letter about how I just wanted someone to justify my value to me and then I let the situation go. A few days latter, I got a call which they gave me an explanation and offered to reduce my value by 8%. I chose not to pursue it more because I was not going to change the whole valuation method used. By accepting the situation, I had a calm discussion with the gentleman who called me back and he worked with me instead of just trying to hang up on the 10th upset tax payer that called him that day. And, I was able to continue to do my work because thoughts about being cheated did not continuously come up to distract me from my tasks.
The key is to approach your finances without the anger, blame and upset by knowing that you can handle any situation that comes your way which includes paying more taxes than your neighbor if you recently bought a home. Saying that it is unfair, after filling the appropriate complaints, is only distracting you from pursuing other opportunities in front of you.
For the next step, see How to Accept Your Financial Situation