Would you, could you, ride a bus?

Sometime ago I met with a single mom who could not make ends meet. Every month she was late paying several bills. This cost her a lot of money in late fees and even caused the water and electric to be turned off on several occasions.

When we reviewed her bills, the payment for the nearly new small SUV jumped out as an expense she just could not afford. We spoke of alternatives. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Let’s talk about selling the SUV and buying a beater with cash.

Her: But the SUV is upside down and I have no cash to pay it off or buy a beater. Besides my kids play soccer and I need an SUV. I’ve owned old unreliable cars my whole life. I deserve a dependable car.

Me: You could sell the SUV by financing the difference and then ride the bus until you pay off the gap loan and save up enough to buy a beater.

Her: Ride the Bus? I would NEVER ride the BUS.

Me: Never, really why?

Her: Have you seen the people that ride the bus?  I would get lice. There’s not a stop near my work. It would take forever to get the kids in the evening.

Now the fact is, I HAVE ridden the bus. Public transportation in our city isn’t great, we have no subways, no trains and somewhat limited bus service but the buses we have are clean and punctual and without a doubt lice-free.

Before we jump to finding fault and passing judgment on our single mom, let’s make sure that we don’t have a problem “riding the bus”.

Maybe it’s the idea of a second job that you dismiss without consideration. Or perhaps it’s moving closer to work or getting a roommate.

The truth is most of us have some picture in our head of what our life is supposed to be like and it is a challenge to keep an open mind about alternatives. This vision often fails to align with the reality of our situation. If we really want our financial position to change, we must make some big changes in our behavior. If we keep doing what we’ve been doing we can’t be surprised that we keep getting what we’ve been getting-right?

Changing that mind’s eye view is not that hard. You can get past the “what will my friends think” and the “I deserve” mindset to shop at Wal-Mart or the consignment store. You can drive an older paid for car or ride a bike and you can live in a smaller house. The question is not can you do these things, but will you?

What waits for you on the other side of that behavior change? What will a debt-free, living-within-your-means life look like for you and your family? How will you feel when the car breaks down and you can simply write a check to have it repaired? How will it feel to have the freedom to choose your work?

Although it takes time, you can align your vision with your current reality and your future dreams. The more you practice being open to new ideas the easier it gets.

  • Start every day with a decision to be open to change.
  • Be curious about how other people win.
  • Explore the possibilities.

And then choose. Start small, practice everyday and you just might find yourself “riding the bus”.

Meet Mr Money Mustache

If you want to do not a little better with your money, but worlds better, you need to meet one of my favorite money bloggers, Mr. Money Mustache.

I just love this guy, he’s smart and funny. One word of caution, he occasionally uses colorful language to make a point. I am intentionally hard to offend but if you are very delicate, read gently.

Here is  my favorite excerpt for his most recent Reader Case Study Post

CREDIT CARD DEBT IS AN EMERGENCY!! It goes out first, before you engage in any other activity. Do not write to Mr. Money Mustache for advice if you still have credit card debt. My advice is: tap all possible resources, up to and including couch-surfing, prostitution and illegal drug and organ sales, to pay off your credit card debt first. After that, we can start fixing the rest of your life.

You don’t know how often I’ve wanted to recommend selling a kidney to pay off Visa ! 🙂

Two more of his posts that you really need to read:

What Do You Mean “You Don’t Have a Bike”?!

How to Go from Middle-Class to Kickass

Mr. Money Mustache is clearly BeyondDave but not in the  traditional crunchy granola, live in a tiny house,  grow my own food, make my clothes, way. He lives with his wife and child is a very nice, rather large house. They have lots of toys and take long vacations. Still they are, at a very young age, financially free. They’ve accomplished this by being extremely intentional with their decision making.

I know we can all learn something from that.