When YNAB and Dave Ramsey entered our lives, we became an unstoppable force to meet our financial goals. Our original debt payoff forecasts were beat by a mile, largely because we got serious and focused all of our time, energy, and money to debt payoff. We had met some really great goals and were feeling great.
But there was a problem. After we met our debt payoff goal, all of our problems did not go away. And there was still an insatiable appetite for more stuff. The only difference was that now I had more money to spend on getting that stuff. It was like we had finished a long diet but did nothing about our love of ice cream.
So we got more stuff for a few months. And I felt the same. Dave Ramsey has a saying, “Live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else.” We had lived like no one else, so that later…we would get depressed about how meaningless it all is.
Here’s the problem: you’ll never win with discontentment. You never find enough. You’re always wanting more. So in the long run, the “sacrifice now” will not lead to peace and balance later, because you’re training yourself for discontentment. Let’s illustrate this in other areas of life:
|With||Live like no one else looks like||But contenment looks like|
|Dieting||I’m going to join a gym and do that multiple times a week, and eat Paleo and judge everyone else who doesn’t as idiots||I’m going to learn how to enjoy the calories I really need, appreciating that I’m swimming in a sea of cheap calories that even the greatest kings of old didn’t have|
|Work||I’m going to make this happen and work Saturdays and drive everyone to do the same…this is going to launch my career into the stratosphere||I’m going to really think about what and how I’m doing things, and make sure I do the right things with the right team, and do those things well|
|Marriage||We’re going to go to counseling, a marriage retreat, and then sit down every night and talk||I’m going focus on meeting my needs through a variety of means, with simplicity|
|Money||If I get an extra job, I can pay off my debt and get an expensive car ten years from now||I don’t need an expensive car. Or all this stuff. I’ll stop buying stuff and find that I have a lot of money left over that I can save. And wow, I’m happier!|
Sometimes the middle column is called for. But only temporarily, because discontentment leads to discontentment. It’s a never-ending cycle. And the only way to get to where you want to go is through contentment. You may need to spend a few months moving the needle. Great. The focus though should be on finding contentment in your life, and creating a margin of time, money, and focus that will help you accomplish your goals long-term.