It is quite natural for human beings to avoid discomfort. Our brains are wired that way. Without thinking about it, we’ll rush in from the cold. Of course! Without really thinking about it, we’ll steer clear of somebody we don’t particularly like. Of course! Without thinking about it, we’ll bypass the ________ section of the buffet table. Of course! It’s the SPINACH section!
And without really thinking much about it, we’ll often avoid entire aspects of our financial lives. Over the years I have met many people who clearly want financial freedom but, at the same time, don’t want anything to do with money! And so it becomes important for them to see how it was they have been avoiding money in their lives. At least it becomes important if they really want ‘financial freedom’.
Do you avoid thinking or dealing with any of the following things related to money? (If you stop reading this article now, that might be a clue!)
your financial situation generally (where you’re at.)
your cash flow (month to month money management)
your estate planning (insurance situation)
your tax situation
your financial situation as it pertains to your spouse
If you’re avoiding any of these areas, it’s probably because the thought of them makes you uncomfortable in some way. Unfortunately, avoidance doesn’t make it ‘go away’. In fact, avoidance often makes things much worse, so all you’re doing is placing a larger burden on ‘your future self’.
Scientists, somewhere, ought to be working on a way to place future burdens on ‘some other person’ rather than our future selves. (No word on that yet, unfortunately). What we avoid today still tends to pop up later in life. If we aren’t paying attention to our finances, it will show in the future. If we’re racking up debt today, it will come home to roost in the future. If we’re not doing proper estate planning, somebody is going to get it in the nose in the future. These things don’t go away because we’re pre-occupied with our shoe laces.
But what a difference a little attention makes! To be on the other side of the avoided issue, knowing it has been taken care of. Knowing we’re now steadily increasing our net worth instead of going in the hole. Knowing our family is taken care of if we die. Knowing we’ll open a gift of savings in the future, not a gift of debt. Knowing it REALLY wasn’t all that scary once we turned our attention to it and dealt with it face on.
The first step to managing the financial issues we’re avoiding, though, is to know what it is we’re avoiding. The ‘why’ doesn’t matter that much. It’s because it is uncomfortable. Well, so what! That discomfort will be temporary, and on the other side of it is a REAL comfort zone. The REAL comfort zone of knowing things have been dealt with, rather than the FANTASY comfort zone constructed by avoidance and denial.