We were in a health food store one day when the checker asked us whether we wanted to contribute to the tsunami relief fund. Since we always sit down and plan our tithing at the beginning of the year, we politely declined. Our checker became distinctly less friendly after that, no doubt thinking us cold-hearted and selfish.
We were tempted to explain our system of tithing to her, but refrained as there were a lot of other people in line behind us. We took our groceries and left her with her negative thoughts about us.
Not too long ago, we might have felt guilty enough to give in and contribute a few dollars. After all, what harm could a few less dollars do to our bank account, and it was all for a good cause, right? Wrong.
A while back we decided to track our expenses down to the penny, and we realized we were losing a fortune a few dollars at a time. A couple dollars for sodas here, a few dollars to a homeless person there. Our spending and giving was untracked and out of control.
To solve this problem, we wrote down everything we wanted to spend money on and agreed to practice discipline in sticking to that plan. The first thing we discovered was that having financial discipline meant having respect for ourselves. It meant that sometimes others would think badly of us, like the checker at the health food store.
Financial discipline also meant that we would have to immediately correct ourselves when we practiced old behaviors and spent money outside our budget. On a recent trip to Mexico, I allowed myself to get talked into spending a considerable amount of money on getting advanced certification for scuba. Even though I initially chose not to go for certification, I agreed primarily because I felt bad letting the instructor down.
It wasn’t until I thought about it that I realized my financial goals were more important than pleasing the scuba instructor. I genuinely liked the man and wanted him to do well financially, but I could not sabotage my own plans for his. I had to respect myself enough to tell him (after he had already made all the arrangements) that I could not go. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, yet I did it.
Accumulating wealth isn’t an easy road to follow. If it were, everyone would be wealthy. To be wealthy, you have to be willing to respect yourself and your goals enough to withstand other people’s displeasure with you. It gets as simple as that when you are clear about your financial goals. And when you make some of the hard decisions, you’ll feel so proud of yourself that you’ll realize it’s all worth it. Most of all, your bank balance will grow to reflect your growing respect for yourself. Enjoy the process!