I had a somewhat difficult time with the topic of this blog swap, since I have never really sat down and thought about the things that motivate me in general. I like to think of myself as more of a doer and less of a thinker, and exploring the external forces that propels me to act in the way that I do seems to be such an intangible bit of fluff that I almost didn’t write this article. But, I have committed myself to swapping articles today, and so I must.
The simple answer to the question of what motivates me to be financially responsible is fear. I’m not talking about the kind of fear that you experience from going to see the latest teen slasher film, but the fear that I will reach a point in my life, look back, and wonder what the hell I was thinking. I know that I should say something along the lines of wanting to retire early and live a fabulous life, but really, that’s not it for me at all.
I mentioned in a previous article that I grew up in serious poverty. I did not have the opportunity to grow up as a carefree child because I was acutely aware of my family’s financial shortcomings: as children we had holes in our shoes and wore them long after we had outgrown then; we walked to school because my mother could not afford to pay the $3 per day in reduced bus fare that it would have cost for us to attend school; Santa did not ever bring us toys and games, instead be brought practical items like socks; we qualified for free lunch at school and joined the food lines at church when they were available; and when possible, we took advantage of every government program that we knew about and qualified for.
When you have lived life as I have, you have the opportunity to make two general choices about your life. You can continue to live as you have and use the excuse that the life you have known is all that you will ever know. This is the reason for poverty that extends from generation to generation. Or you can take a completely different route and vow to do better, be better, reach higher, and fail upwards so that you will never know that life again. This is the route that I took.
So, I could have said that what motivates me is having grown up poor. But no, it’s not the growing up poor that motivates me. What motivates me is the fear that I will make choices that would leave my future progeny in the situation that I grew up in. It is my responsibility to ensure that the generations after me will never know that life, and that I will never know that life again. Fear then, is not always a negative, but can have positive implications as it has had in my life.
Is there something that motivates you to be financially responsible? Was there a point in your life when you learned the benefits of being financially responsible?
Beating Broke Note: Also, if you’d like to read my post on What Motivates you to be Financially Responsible, please head over to Yes, I am Cheap!