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Have You Reached Your Financial Trigger Point?

Credit Wise (featured column)
by Jennifer Wallis

I once heard a keynote speaker bring up an interesting point at a financial literacy conference. He was part of a research team studying whether advertising can actually influence you to purchase an item. They found that effective advertising may raise your level of intent. It may make you think, "Oooh, I need to go buy that." However, it didn’t actually seem to make people go out and purchase an item they hadn’t intended to buy anyway.

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It made me start thinking about what it is that makes people actually take that extra step and follow through with something they intend to do. Every day, I intend to go to the gym. However, after a long day at work, all I want to do is come home and spend time with my family. What would make me actually go to the gym? I have access to a free fitness center so price isn’t a barrier. It’s located in my neighborhood so I can’t say that it’s out of the way. I guess the bottom line is that I want to be at home more than I want to go sweat on an elliptical machine. What if I found out that I was in poor health and needed that exercise to live longer? Would that actually make me do it? What is my trigger point to turn my intent to go to the gym into action? If I tried on my favorite pair of jeans tomorrow and couldn’t button them--that might do it. I do know that I am tired of waking up every day, intending to do something but then going to bed that night, realizing that I failed again today. Once again, I let myself down. I am planning a trip to the beach in May so maybe looking at my bikini hanging on my closet door will actually make me get in better shape.  

When it comes to finances, what is it that makes people decide to actually do something to improve their situation? What is it that finally makes us stand up and say, "I can’t live with this stress any more! I am going to do something about it RIGHT NOW!" For some, it’s a collection call. For others, it’s adding up their debt. For others, it’s losing sleep at night, worrying about how to pay the bills. Sadly, some people never reach their trigger point and live stressed, in debt, for the rest of their lives. They may lose their job or their marriage before they ask for help.

If you are struggling with an issue in your life, ask yourself this question, "What is it going to take for me to actually take the steps to solve this problem?" What if tomorrow, you woke up and instead of intending to do something- you actually did it? Maybe the following day, you’d wake up and think, "Wow! It felt great to actually accomplish something! What a relief!"

Don’t waste another day wishing you had taken care of that credit card debt. Don’t spend another minute worrying about your financial problems. Get help now. You don’t have to live with that stress and worry hanging over your head. There is another way. It can be fixed. You can arm yourself with education, make better choices, and feel proud of yourself for taking steps in the right direction.

The bankruptcy law changed in 2005. One of the changes is that budget education is required before you can file bankruptcy. I believe the intent of the law is to show people that they have other options and to end up with fewer people filing bankruptcy. The truth is that by the time people wait so late, until they are so far behind on their bills that they have actually determined that bankruptcy is the only way out, there isn’t much that can be done to avoid it. If they had only sought options at the first signs of trouble, they would have had several ways out.

Don’t wait until you start getting late fees, collection calls, judgments, wage garnishments, lawsuits, or bad marks on your credit. Don’t wait until you are afraid to open your mail, pick up the phone or answer the door. Don’t make another excuse about why you can’t solve that problem right now. If you need help, don’t intend to solve it tomorrow or even later today. Do it right now.

The truth is that many of us intend to do a lot of things everyday. You don’t get bonus points for good intentions. The only people who change their lives are the ones who actually reach their trigger point and take action. The next time you think, "I have got to do something about this!" don’t allow yourself to put it off. Don’t allow your trigger point to be something truly awful. Do something good for yourself and take action today.    

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Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Wallis. All rights reserved.

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