When you’re struggling with debt, it’s hard to ‘think big’. Pinching pennies becomes a way of life and your next bill is the only thing you’re concentrating on. But maybe this isn’t the best approach.
The Immediate Danger
In martial arts, some teachers say that in any conflict you should ‘address the immediate danger’. This means if someone is choking you, your priority is to get their hands off your neck – everything else comes after.
So if your electricity is going to be shut off, then yes, by all means, get that taken care of! But it’s all too easy for life to be a series of ‘immediate dangers’, where you are constantly reacting instead of acting. Living like this will be a constant struggle, completely limiting your ability to look and plan ahead.
What is ‘Thinking Big’?
Big is a relative term. If you’re struggling to pay a $100 utility bill, $1,000 is BIG.
If you’re making $20,000 at your current job, then $40,000 is BIG.
At the same time, many people struggling with debt would barely notice an extra $1,000, and there are people making $40,000 who are in just as much trouble as the person at $20,000.
The truth about thinking big is that you can’t save your way out of debt.
Penny Pinching is not a long-term strategy
Some examples of penny pinching are:
Couponing – do you spend hours watching extreme couponing shows and creating spreadsheets to track your coupons and savings? Is it really helping? Sure you’re getting a ton of stuff for free, but do you need that stuff? Is the food you’re buying what you really want to be eating? Are you using more just because you have it? Saving money on things you would buy anyway is smart, but buying things you don’t need just because they’re cheap will never get you to where you need to be.
Make coffee at home – “Starbucks is so expensive – just make coffee at home”. Of course this is true mathematically, and if you’re used to spending $5 a day for your coffee, that’s a quick $100 a month you could put towards your bills. But it’s not enough. You can’t turn that $100 into more money (unless you switch to tap water exclusively).
Yes, penny pinching will help in the short term, but you have to take a step back. Stop thinking about your next bill and think about your LIFE.
Thinking BIG means thinking creatively
How can you make some extra money? We’ve talked before about some strategies, including earning money on the side, getting a second job, and asking for a raise.
Think about your life the way an entrepreneur thinks about their business. Entrepreneurs see opportunities everywhere. Everything is a chance to network, sell, or find a niche you can profit from.
Rather than feeling stuck in your current job, you have to think bigger. Does it make sense to aim for a promotion? What about working for a competitor? How can you use the knowledge and experience you have to provide more VALUE to someone?
Is there a skill you’ve developed at your job that you could use to freelance with at night or on weekends?
What about taking your expertise and turning it into an online course or eBook you can sell?
Follow the Leader
Don’t assume you have to reinvent the wheel. Whatever you want to do, someone has done it before. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find people who have done what you want to do and ask them how they did it.
Frugal living will only get you so far. Getting out of debt doesn’t only have to be financially significant – use this time to completely transform your career and your life.