After what felt like an eternal circus of campaigning, and 6.9 BILLION dollars in election spending, the results are in (pending some close races). We have a new President preparing for a new administration. They’re prepping their game plan, but what about you? What does this election mean for you? What’s next?
Each election cycle I see the same infuriating poll conducted:
“Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?”
The reason this question makes me mad me is that it places the responsibility of our lives into the hands of someone else; those hands being one’s of politicians, of all people.
I have a deeply rooted belief in that we have full power to change our own lives. We do not live in a society where we’re born to take over the vocation of our parents. Like Baldwin and Hopkins, I believe, “What one man can do, another man can do.”
True or not, this value of mine is what I would call a “strategic blind spot”. If I dive deep into it, I’m sure I can find a hundred reasons not to believe it, but for now, I’ve decided to overlook those in favor of ignorant bliss.
As a corollary to this belief, I believe much of the trouble we face is self-imposed. We have a natural tendency to build mental quagmires and become prisoners of our thoughts.
Ben Franklin summed this up best when asked if the taxes were too high. He responded by confirming that the government does indeed tax us heavily, but that we are more heavily taxed by ourselves. “We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly.”
I don’t know how to make the next 4 years better, but I know how to make tomorrow better.
The US President Election is Over! Now, What’s Next?
The next step is exactly that. It is one small step we need to take to put ourselves forward. I know for us, that involves small 10 minute tasks that might save us a few bucks. It might mean a 10 minute phone call to see if we can remove a charge or it might mean spending an hour on Sunday switching our phone plans.
When all those small changes are added up, we see extraordinary results. In one year, we’ve doubled our savings rate from an already high ~23% to an even higher 40%+.
We might have had a few changes that led to big gains, but the majority of that increase is due to small tweaks we’ve made and are still making.
Change starts with the man in the mirror. Once we gain an honest clarity of our strengths and weaknesses then we can live our lives in a more intelligent fashion.
We all have weaknesses, that’s part of being human. We all stress about this or that, but the difference is some of us get stuck in analysis paralysis. With so many decisions to make, we freeze up and make none. We kick the can down the road and let our future selves take care of the mess.
In the spirit of public disclosure, I’ll share a recent blind spot that we’ve eliminated (for now). I expect this change to be more permanent, but I know we’ll slip up again in the future.
What harmful blind spots are we entertaining?
I’ll hash out our harmful blind spot below but I hope you can see parallels for your own. I emphasis the word harmful, because as mentioned above, some blind spots can serve to help us.
We recently underwent a major shift in our “food,” budget where I now spend a good 8 hours on Sunday cooking meals. The benefits were obvious to me: we eat healthier food and it costs of significantly less.
Some of the benefits to cooking were unknown to me. I now spend much less time thinking about and preparing/acquiring food than I did before. It might not seem like much, but I used to spend a few minutes before each meal thinking about what I was going to buy or what I would cook. Now that I have a routine, I’m more or less on autopilot. By cooking on Sundays, I’m able to batch together multiple meals in a short amount of time.
As I mentioned on the “failures,” of our 90 Day Frugality Challenge – we still have plenty of blind spots to tackle. This includes our cell phone bills, medical bills, and a new one recently, our monthly pet expenses.
We’re always asking ourselves what can we fix today? What small change can we make now to help us lay an extra brick into our palace of financial independence?
Those answers are what I would also call, actual blind spots. Those are the decisions and routine changes that we know we’re capable of making, but there’s something holding us back. Typically, for us, it is an excuse. Our biggest excuse with not cooking was that it would take MORE time.
It is odd how that earlier mental prison has now turned into a source of joy for us.
We’re not worried about what the future will look like. We’re just focusing on making each day better than the day before.
In the end, we’ll be happy to say, “We’re better off than we were 4 years ago.”
Your turn now! What harmful blindspots are you entertaining? What areas in your budget have you not tackled yet because of paralysis by analysis?