I have to admit that I am very fortunate when it comes to finances. I grew up with an unfair advantage: my dad was a hard-working accountant who knew how to control money without being controlled by money. Not only did he know it, but he lived it and taught us to do the same from a young age. The only way I am able to afford living in one of the world’s most expensive cities with such a big family is not because I have a huge income — it’s because I was taught how to use the income I have.
I wasn’t handed a bank account full of money. My parents encouraged me to get a job and start earning money for myself. When I first started making my own money, it was mowing lawns of the neighbors around us. I got my few hard-earned bucks and Dad sat me down for the money talk. He taught me to put a percentage of my money away in savings, a percentage of my money to go to the church and a percentage I got to spend. Learning this from a young age, my dad set me on a course of staying out of debt, saving for the future and being generous with my money with God and others. And when you’re generous with your money, God is generous with you. With scholarships, hard work and some saving (from me and my parents), I was able to do college debt free.
In this week’s video Is Tokyo Affordable for Large Foreign Families? I talk a bit about how we make it work for us. There are places where we tighten our belt and other places where we splurge a bit. When all is said and done, we make sure we’re spending less than we’re making (even if it means we live in a house much smaller than what we would prefer).
Now that I’ve been counting my calories to lose weight recently, I’ve been amazed by how much it lines up with finances. You have a certain income (daily caloric intake) that if you exceed, you gain weight that slows you down and makes you unhealthy (you go into debt), but if you’re able to closely count your calories that you consume (your expenses) and balance those against additional income (exercise) and that total is less than your income — you’re going to lose weight (get out of debt). Make sense? In both situations, the key is tracking what’s really happening and exercising self-control.
The process of putting a budget in place, or starting to count calories, is not fun at all. In fact the first implementation of it is time intensive and it feels restrictive. A total downer. But once in place and operating correctly, you’ll be surprised to see where your money really goes. And with enough time the results start to speak for themselves: a life much more full and free of weight, debt and unnecessary excess. It frees you to enjoy life on a whole new level.