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13 Oct 2009

Controlling Your Financial Destiny: Seeing Things as They Really Are

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by Jesse Mecham

The Matrix

You live in a world that isn’t real. You’ve been basing your financial decisions on everything you’ve seen around you, and you’ve allowed yourself to believe that what you’re seeing is true. What you’re seeing is very rarely true.

This may sound harsh, or insensitive, but the guy that just rolled up two doors down with the brand new lawnmower is going to be paying for that thing (twice over) for five years.

The lady whose house is decorated immaculately is late on her credit card bill.

The parents whose kids have all the latest toys are up to their eyebrows in debt.

The young, successful salesman across the street refinanced his home three months ago to free up $400 in monthly cash flow. He has no idea where that $400/month has gone.

The doctor is working himself into oblivion, but can’t make headway on his student loans.

The husband that bought his wife the new car she’s been wanting is now sleeping less. He doesn’t know it, but his wife secretly wishes he hadn’t bought it.

The happily married couple simply avoids the topic of money.

You don’t see any of that, but it’s all there. And, unfortunately, you’ve lived most of your life making decisions based on assumptions that are entirely false. The people you see around you, and who you aspire to be are all broke. They’re all stressed.

There’s a scene in The Matrix (the original, good movie, not the sequels) where Neo is just finding out a bit about the Matrix. He knows enough to know that something with the world he’s always known isn’t right. Morpheus gives a great line:

Like everyone else, you were born into bondage.

Morpheus is talking about the fact that all Neo has ever known is the Matrix. A façade. A fake life. There’s nothing real about it. In a lot of ways, until we kick some seriously bad financial habits and starting doing things that are liberating (I won’t say, AHEM exactly what those things are), we’re stuck. Zero progress is bondage — period.

To end the scene, Morpheus gives Neo a choice of two pills. If Neo takes the blue pill, he’ll wake up and not remember anything about their encounter. He’s allowed to push a big Reset button.

If Neo takes the red pill, he gets to see “how far the rabbit hole goes.” He’ll get to see the reality for what it really is.

Since Neo is the hero, and since he chose the red pill, what type of parallel do you think I’m going to make? The red pill — the REALITY pill, is your budget. Nothing about what you see around you is true. The only thing true is what you care about, what you bring in, and what you let flow out of your life. Your values are real. Your perception of the financial situation of others around you is not real.

Once you’ve taken the red pill, your financial potential is greatly enhanced. Please take a few seconds to view this clip from a classic:

Once Neo saw reality, he was able to control his own destiny. Could the similarities be any clearer here? Once you get a strong dose of your own reality (through effective budgeting), you’ll also be much more empowered to control your own financial destiny.

What’s the financial equivalent of stopping a speeding bullet in mid-flight? I have no idea. But my guess is that you can do it.

Oh, and in your financial world, you are The One.

Your Next Step

Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)

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