The pursuit of financial success often overshadows the value of struggling and the lessons it can teach us.
I vividly remember the challenging days of marriage and parenthood, where financial struggles were a constant reality for my young family. The hardship we endured during that time not only taught me essential life skills but also shaped my approach to both personal and professional finances.
In this post, I’ll share my journey of transforming financial struggles into valuable life lessons and provide 10 actionable steps to help others embrace their financial challenges, learn discipline, and pave the way for a brighter future.
Embrace the Struggle: Accepting the Value of Difficult Times
The first step is to accept that financial struggles are a natural part of life’s journey. Embracing these challenges allows us to see them as opportunities for growth and self-discovery.
We all want to fast-forward our success, and it’s understandable, but there’s much to be learned from being broke and hungry that will assist you for the rest of your life.
For example, when you’re broke and hungry, you have to make some tough decisions. Do you ask people for help? Do you take out a loan? Do you shoplift or worse?
When I was in this position as a young father and husband, I’ll never forget the feeling of shame when I had to return items to Walmart so I had enough money to buy diapers, formula, milk, cereal, and noodles.
Out of that shame, a funny thing happened on my way home that changed the course of my life. I looked at all of the palm trees around me and noticed the dying branches, and for the first time, saw an opportunity to make extra money – trimming palm fronds.
I figured $20 per tree was fair, and if it wasn’t, I was happy to negotiate pricing. So, I went home, loaded my 1997 Saturn (teal blue…pretty smooth) with an extension ladder, chainsaw, gloves, rope, and a hand saw, then I drove around my neighborhood and started knocking on doors.
Most people didn’t open the door, and the few that did say no thank you….except for one, and that one was all I needed.
They had 4 palm trees and thought $20 per tree was fair considering the Danger involved in climbing those trees while navigating a chainsaw. I was thrilled! I had all four trees trimmed in less than an hour and took home $80 in cash that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
That was a light bulb moment for me, and it was enough to motivate me to start thinking of another business I could start that was less dangerous and even more profitable.
As luck would have it, a friend of my mom’s mentioned that they were looking for a cleaning service for the doctor’s office she worked at.
I asked her if it was something I could do, and she said absolutely. I was honest and told her I had no experience doing commercial cleaning, but it seemed simple enough, and she agreed to give me the business if the price was right.
I was honest again and told her that this would be the first time I would be doing this, and I had no way of knowing what was fair pricing. (You have to remember that this was 2001, YouTube wasn’t introduced until 2005, so there is very little information available to inform me of how to price out jobs.)
Fortunately, she told me what the other bid was on her desk and said if I could beat it by $100, it was mine. Without even knowing the price, I agreed. I figured it had to be more than $80, and would keep me from having to climb any more Palm trees.
Turns out, it was $1,200 and that meant my wife no longer had to work, which was both of our preferences. In fact, at that time, that was a full-time salary for someone on minimum wage.
I now had a taste of what being in business for yourself can be like, so it wasn’t long before I started looking for other opportunities. Eventually, I settled on a franchise to open and the rest is history.
Twenty-two years later, I’ve owned more businesses than I can count and have experienced tremendous success. I’ve also experienced tremendous failures, but I learned so much from those mistakes, which helped me to get better and better over time.
So, what are the lessons I learned from those early days?
Live Within Your Means: The Power of Budgeting
Learning to budget and live within your means is a crucial skill that empowers you to make informed financial decisions and avoid unnecessary debt.
Prioritize Debt Repayment: Freeing Yourself from Financial Burdens
Take steps to prioritize debt repayment, starting with high-interest debts. Clearing financial obligations opens doors to new opportunities and financial freedom.
Build Emergency Savings: Preparing for Life’s Unexpected Turns
Creating an emergency savings fund safeguards you from unforeseen circumstances and provides a safety net during challenging times.
Invest in Yourself: Knowledge and Education as Assets
Investing in personal development and education can open doors to new career opportunities and increase earning potential.
Seek Mentorship: Learning from the Experienced
Find mentors or seek guidance from experienced individuals who can offer valuable insights and help you navigate through financial challenges.
Foster Meaningful Relationships: The Importance of a Supportive Network
Cultivate meaningful relationships with friends and family who can provide emotional support during difficult times and share wisdom gained from their own experiences.
Focus on Long-Term Goals: Persistence and Patience
Set clear long-term goals and stay persistent, even when the journey seems arduous. Patience is key to achieving sustainable success.
Diversify Income Streams: Expanding Financial Opportunities
Consider diversifying your income streams to create multiple revenue sources and safeguard against potential setbacks.
Choose Happiness: Understanding the True Essence of Wealth
Remember that happiness comes from within and is not solely dependent on material wealth. Choose happiness in every stage of life, whether financially abundant or struggling.
Financial struggles are not to be feared:
but embraced as stepping stones toward personal and professional growth. My own journey from financial hardship to financial independence taught me the importance of discipline, budgeting, and learning from mistakes. By adopting these 7-10 steps, young people can equip themselves with valuable life skills, fortify their financial foundation, and create a brighter future. Remember, wealth is not solely defined by money, but by the richness of our experiences, relationships, and the contentment we choose to cultivate from within. Embrace the struggles, and let them propel you toward a fulfilling and prosperous life.