After 9 years of teaching alternative financial models I’ve discovered the critical challenge consumer’s face when trying to absorb and understand the concepts I teach; it is their mindset. If we are to learn anything new, whether it be a new golf swing or financial concept our minds need to be open to accepting something new and unfamiliar, regardless of how contrarian it might appear. If we are to allow our minds and our beliefs to accept something new we need to be in the right frame of mind. Our mindset must tell us; “listen up and pay attention, this could be good”.
Have you ever noticed how extreme we get with many of the decisions we make in our life? There seems to be no middle ground once we’ve made our decision. We tend to gravitate to and then live at the extremities of our beliefs. Our world becomes black or white; no middle ground. When our beliefs live at one end of the spectrum or another our beliefs become permanent and we tend to defend that position with all of our might. In our vane effort to protect our pride, ego or image, human nature disallows us to deviate from our decisions because deviation equates to an element of failure. This life of extremes prevails with our financial decisions, especially so when the discussion turns to our debt management decisions. In fact, when the debt discussion comes into play often time’s people will hold on to that black or white extreme like it was their first born child. The chosen methodology or strategy becomes the immovable foundation of their debt management and debt repayment strategies.
You may have heard in the past that ALL debt is bad. This is a good example of an extreme mentality. People who live at this end of the spectrum believe they are categorically correct (ALL debt is bad) and there’s nothing you can say to convince them otherwise. Do you know anyone like this? It’s hard to have a meaningful conversation with this type of person. But, if they’re extremism is so right and everyone should live to that extreme then what argument is there for millionaires who don’t have debt (consumer/installment debt), but they have mortgages? From the ‘ALL debt is bad’ extreme; are millionaires financially inept because they carry mortgage debt? Such a heavy handed stance indicates an equally extreme level of arrogance and ignorance. One of my favorite sayings is by Dr. Wayne Dwyer: “The highest form of ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about.”
I’ve heard well respected financial “guru’s” say; “any 65 year old with any mortgage debt is an idiot”. I believe anyone who makes such a statement has no compassion or understanding for the human condition. If a 65 year old has mortgage debt there is more than likely a good reason. There are 101 circumstantial reasons a 65 year old has mortgage debt, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in his initial financial plans. If any one consumer has mortgage debt that late in life I can promise you it was due to circumstance, whether it is planned or unplanned. The point; making that kind of extreme judgment on an individual without first learning about and understanding their human condition is appalling.
Here’s the rub; we live within and life exists between the extremes. Nothing in life resides at the extreme black or white end of the spectrum. We live in the grey matter and we continually gravitate within the shades of grey as we manage our way thru life. Take a quick inventory of your debt management beliefs. Do you live by one extreme and discount all others? Can you gravitate towards middle ground to get a better perspective of your options and how to compare the two? Mentally notate those beliefs that live at the rigid extremes and recognize their limitations. You may already exist in the grey matter with your investments. You have to do the same on the debt side of the ledger if you want better results.
When the decision process resides within the grey matter you have more clarity and it is easier to compare and contrast without extreme prejudice. When you stand right in the middle and approach life’s decisions from a balanced perspective you have an equal view of each extreme, of each argument. A balanced perspective allows new light to shine in from both sides. A clear vision of the pro’s and con’s of each precipitates a decision that fits your particular circumstance or situation as opposed to force fitting the extreme into a world it may not belong. We learned this at a very early age: don’t force the puzzle piece to fit, find the one that fits just right. To do this you have to look at all of the puzzle pieces, not just the piece in your hand.
When it comes to decisions about debt management and debt repayment force yourself to reside in the grey matter before making your decisions. Stand in the middle. Don’t be swayed by those who advise from the extremities. Look at your options without extreme influence. Recognize that extreme choices are inflexible and intolerant. Living within extreme conditions ultimately lead to limited results and limited possibilities. Stand in the middle and let some new light shine on your beliefs. With new light comes new perspective. A new perspective will present opportunities that may have not been visible from extremes.
The truth is in the proof!