Have you ever paid any attention to the amount of traffic lights that are on your route to the office? I actually documented them today during one of my regular routes. Want to guess how many there were? 38! There were also 4 railroad tracks, and 2 stop signs. Out of the 38 traffic lights, I was held up at 18 red lights. There was one particular street that was really backed up (school) which slowed me down.
Why is this data pertinent? Well, to start, I don’t want to be late to any meetings held at the office. If I know how many red lights I will consistently run into on my commute, I can anticipate the length of time it will take me. I also want to avoid any trains (especially cargo / freight trains with extremely long carriages). My goal is to get from A to B (home to office) in the shortest amount of time possible. I like being efficient, and I do not like traffic.
What would your life look like if you had this much attention to detail regarding your finances? Would you understand what your money is telling you every month, every week, and/or every day? When you pay attention to things that hold value, you begin to look at things in a different perspective. I did not count the number of cars that sped up through the intersection when a light turned yellow, but I am sure you see that occur consistently almost every single day. I shake my head when a yellow light approaches and a car still hasn’t even slowed down, so they bust through the red. The little voice in my head says, “somebody did not plan ahead and see the light changed.” I also offer up a little prayer that no accidents happen.
When you plan your route for your drive, you are setting yourself up for an optimal outcome just like when you make a plan with your money. When you start saving towards a beginner emergency fund, you are telling yourself that you are no longer going to borrow money. Once you complete that beginner emergency fund, you start working the debt snowball because you want the debt gone. Then you transition to fully funding the emergency fund because if “life happens,” you want a safety net, so the fall doesn’t hurt as badly.
Scanning ahead at the patterns / behaviors of cars gives you peace of mind; you can anticipate or expect what is happening on the road. When you look ahead to what you want your financial future to look like, you create a roadmap that you can follow. Sometimes the light will stay green and you can put it in cruise control – i.e. you are heading for the next goal because you already reached the first destination. Maybe the light will turn red, and you have to wait until it turns green again. Perhaps you were paying off debt and your refrigerator stopped working. That would make you stop paying off debt so you can buy a fridge that works so you can eat! Sometimes the light will turn yellow and for the most part, you will need to slow down. Maybe you needed to take a reduction in pay due to stress load. It’s okay to slow down to eventually speed up.
The point of the story is for you to be mindful of your surroundings. Pay attention to what is happening around you. Do not coast through life on autopilot. Get engaged, get involved, and make some moves. Your positive financial future cannot wait any longer. It is up to you whether you want to be stuck behind a train, or if you want to get in gear with a proven plan that will help you succeed.
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