Yearnings vs. Earnings: Using the ’10 Percent’ Habit for a More Fulfilling Financial Life
There’s a bumper sticker that reads, “I’m starving on the salary I once dreamed of.”
Funny how that can happen — I see it all the time. People yearn for more, eventually earn more and then end up being no better off than they were before because they continue to spend every penny. In fact, their stress only grows, because now they have more stuff to worry about and maintain.
The stuff we buy will always eventually wear off or wear out, and we are stuck with the payments and maintenance to fund those things we once dreamed of acquiring.
Clearly, there are those people with so much money that they can pay others to take care of their stuff for them, but even they find money doesn’t buy lasting fulfillment. Others make good incomes but they stretch it so far that their possessions eventually possess them rather than the other way around.
As one mentor once said, when our yearnings exceed our earnings, we will always be broke.
Thankfully, there is hope and rescue from this tailspin behavior — unfortunately, though, it’s rarely popular, adopted or appreciated because it requires self-discipline and restraint.
Book after book and seminar after seminar with reputable merit have repeated a simple truth — in order to achieve financial freedom, for most people the first step is learning to live beneath, not above or at, our means.
This is not popular because we like immediate gratification. We want it now for “tomorrow we die,” as the saying goes. The problem is when we can’t pay for tomorrow because of what we spent today.
Tomorrow will come, and we don’t know what it will bring. Therefore, we must learn balance in our financial behavior. I always recommend for people who genuinely want to know — and are willing to work hard to get their finances in order — the habit of “10 percent.” It’s a behavior I work hard to instill in my kids as well, and I see how hard it is for them, much less adults, to actually stick to.
The 10 percent habit is simply beginning to save at least 10 percent of what we make, giving 10 percent away to charity and living on the rest within a budget.
Why do this?
We need savings because we never know when those rainy days and emergencies will come — we only know they will come. So, a savings plan is always wise.
Giving helps keep us from a hoarding mentality, and generosity has been proved to help reduce stress and elevate our levels of joy.
Finally, living on the rest within a sound budget is restorative. This means that if we don’t have the money to take that second or third vacation this year, buy that new boat, car and/or second home, then we don’t. The rule keeps us from exceeding our earnings.
This is where some of you might be thinking, “I wish I could afford just one vacation!” This is also where our yearnings principle comes full circle. For if those who begin to make the money they once dreamed of never learn these simple money disciplines, they soon discover they are still broke.
So, begin learning and developing a budget, saving and giving habit now — and the power of good financial stewardship can begin contributing to a healthier financial and fulfilled life.
A person can make a million dollars and spend every penny, leaving him or her stretched financially and stressed emotionally, because the truth is that income doesn’t make a person rich. Another person can make a modest income, save, budget and live within his or her means and achieve a level of wealth that the person making millions never could. This is because the second person learned to control the money, rather than having the money control him. As the saying goes, money is a great servant, but a terrible master.