Well, Would’ya Look at That!
No seriously, would'ya?
I've been looking a lot lately, especially at my finances. I found an online tool that I really enjoy called Mint.com. It's helping me to closer inspect my budget, bills and general finances so that I can achieve my goals faster and know where I'm spending my money. For instance, if you had asked me about my grocery or food budget, I would have pulled a random number between zero and my full paycheck. I had no idea how much I spent on food. Well, now I'm getting a much better picture, and let's just say that I'm somewhat surprised a single girl with a strict diet can eat that much! It might be time for me to start clipping coupons with more fervour.
Despite my total lack of knowing where I'm spending my money, at least I now pay my bills on time. It wasn't aways so. In fact, I remember a dismal time in the history of my finances that I like to refer to as 'the Dark Ages". I was, after all, fresh out of University and smack in the middle of a low-paying job. Apparently retiring after university isn't really a feasible option for most people, myself included.
The Dark Ages were a time of mental fog for me. I simply slaved away, came home, slept and ate and returned the next day to do it all again. I didn't acknowledge the beauty around me nor the wonders of a world outside of the education system. How could I? I had student loans continually hounding me for more, more more payments! Every time I turned around, it seemed the student loans companies were calling me for a missed payment. I couldn't keep up!
One day I decided that enough was enough, and I finally decided to do something about it. I mustered all of my might, sat down and looked at the situation. Yes, that was my grand plan. I was going to actually look at my student loans, those big, scary bills that never seemed to be satisfied, that were always looking for more of my hard-earned paycheck. I decided to use my powerful eyes against this terrible, imposing foe.
Suddenly, all was made clear! I was able to see for the first time why I was having such difficulty paying my bills and why it always seemed that some loan was going unpaid despite my best efforts. I didn't just have one student loan; I had five!
It turned out that I fell smack in the middle of an era of change within the student loan program. I not only had a provincial and a federal student loan, but also a CIBC provincial and federal loan as well, plus one more from the bank when I couldn't get the funding needed for my last year of studies. This changed everything!
Now that I realized the full scope of what I was responsible for, and the fact that it wasn't near as daunting as I had previously thought, I was finally able to put a plan in place to tackle my student loans. Now, just ten short years later (ok, some sarcasm there) I am set to pay off the last of these loans very soon. But I owe it all to my magical eyes.
Refusing to look at a problem never helps the problem. It never goes away just because we will it to. But looking at the problem is the first, and often most daunting step.
I think it's so tempting to ignore problems because of a few reasons: if I don't know about it, I can pretend it's not really a big problem. Conversely, I can also imagine that it's so big, nothing I do could ever solve the problem. Neither of these beliefs is likely true, nor helpful.
The truth is that I am powerless until I choose to at least look at the problem. I don't know what step to take next; I lack the facts. Not knowing simply allows me to excuse my poor choices under the guise of "well, I didn't know any better." But rather than having to excuse bad decisions, wouldn't you rather just make good ones from the start?
The only way to do that is to get a view of the entire situation, to stare it in the face and declare, "I'm not afraid anymore!" Just like the boogeyman can't exist when the light is on, so our imaginary problems cannot exist when we look them in the eye.
Student loans = annihilated!
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