Is it possible to suddenly have an awakening.. about money?
And what does epiphany mean anyway?
Epiphany has three definitions, according to the dictionary I consulted. The first one is religious, the second one relates to a divine being. So let’s look at the third definition.
a (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
(2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking
(3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
b : a revealing scene or moment
Taken all together, it is often summed up as an “Ah Ha!” moment. You understand something more clearly than before. You see some meaning that you hadn’t seen before. Or more likely, you see though your own previous preconceptions to a different understanding.
Why we are the way we are
We are born into a culture, a world-view, and we live and express who we are though the lens and confines of what we know and assume to be truth. Our truth is only a limited, narrow, and sometimes even false view of the world, but we accept it as true because it is what we were taught, what we have swallowed whole, so it is all what we know.
It is possible to see things differently. However, it is not easy to accept a different way of thinking, unless you are willing to change your thinking. Changing one’s thinking is as hard as, if not harder than, changing one’s life.
In fact, changing one’s thinking means changing one’s life.
The difficulty in changing one’s life is that if you want to change your life, you must change your life!
Q. How many people want to change their lives?
A. Many probably.
Q. How many people are willing to change their lives?
A. Not many I would guess.
I was your typical working stiff. Got up in the morning, went to work. On the way home, I might eat out, or I would more usually pick up some take out or some easy to prepare food. Went home, ate the food. Spent a few hours doing something I wanted to do, then went to sleep. Up the next morning, repeat.
About money, I didn’t think about it much. I usually only thought about money when I was interviewing for a job: I wanted to get more money than the previous job. I heard all the exhortations to save, so I signed up to contribute to the 401k, and even contributed to an IRA each year, but that was about it. Since I my job provided income, I was able to pay rent, and get myself fed. Wasn’t that enough?
Then life occurred
I met a woman. We dated, and I was smitten. We got married. On the third day of being married, I found myself unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling all night. I had realized that holy shit, I had not saved any money! Aside from the tax-deferred accounts, I had very little to show for myself. I had spent it all.
That realization kept me awake all night. It really woke me up. It was my “Ah Ha!” moment. Now being married, I wanted to sooner or later buy a house. But no savings means no down-payment! What to do? Also, I wanted to be able to have some financial security, not just for myself but for my wife as well.
And I also realized that my job was my only source of income. That sounded too precarious, too dependent on one thing. Whichever company I was working for, I was dependent on that company for my livelihood. Quite scary, actually.
So immediately, I started directing all available post-tax funds to two purposes: savings and investments.
Have you had a moment of clarity about money? What happened to you?
End of Part I of A Financial Epiphany. Part II is here and discussed what I did as a result.
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