Sigh. I do that a lot when I look at our financial picture. I have great plans for reducing debt and increasing savings and investing. Those plans are in place and working. The problem is, they’re working too slowly. Our debt towers over our savings. Our debt is like a lazy giant beast, idly rambling through the countryside, leaving destruction and mayhem in its wake. Our saving strategy is like a wise old guru, sitting alone at the top of a craggy peak. Eventually his non-sensical babbling will start to make sense. Eventually his ramblings will motivate entire armies to rise up and forever abolish the giant beast. The problem is that this will only eventually happen. I want it to happen right now, and that is what makes me sigh.
Patience is one ingredient in the financial recipe that is often overlooked. Sure we know, when we’re looking at the numbers, that the plan will take a while to work. So we steel ourselves and prepare for the long battle ahead. What we don’t realize is that three years and two months of chasing the giant beast without so much as him noticing us behind him will take its toll on us. The wise old guru said this would work, but we see little, if any, evidence. Some months we pay an extra $100 on our debt, some months we save an extra $100 for long-term goals. But the debt doesn’t seem to get smaller, and the savings doesn’t seem to get bigger.
It’s at times like these that we need to remember that good things come to those who wait. Because of the magic of compounding, our savings will eventually have more firepower than we can imagine right now, and our creditors will rapidly be running out of ammunition. Eventually that beast will fall, and it will happen more quickly than we can see when we’re in the middle of battle.
There’s an old proverb that goes, “Better a patient man than a warrior; a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” Don’t give up. Be patient. Stick with the plan and the plan will work.
This post originally appeared in the February 20, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.