Do you feel down about your money situation? You might surprised to know how effective positive thinking for your finances can be.
We chat with the Debt Free Guys about how they turned their financial life around, starting with the stories they told themselves. They also diagnose Miranda’s difficulties with positivity following some major life changes.
No, positive thinking alone won’t fix your finances. But it can be a good start. Find out how to combine positive thinking for your finances with action to achieve your money goals.
[00:00:02] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Money Mastermind Show. Let’s Talk Money.
[00:00:19] GC: Welcome to the Money Mastermind Show. Positive thinking, is it just a bunch of hooey or is it something that can actually help you? Joining us tonight to talk about the power of positive thinking in reaching your financial goals are the Debt Free Guys, David and John.
Welcome to our show guys!
[00:00:37] JS: Thank you, thanks for having us.
[00:00:37] DA: Thank you.
[00:00:39] GC: Glad to have you here and to introduce the members of the Money Mastermind Show, we have Kyle Prevost of Youngandthriftly.ca, Miranda Marquit of Planting Money Seeds, Peter Anderson of Bible Money Matters, Tom Drake of the Canadian Finance Blog and I’m Glen Craig of Free from Broke.
So guys, positive thinking, can it really do good for your financial goals? Let’s throw it out to our Debt Free Guys first and we’ll work from there.
[00:01:10] JS: Thanks, we appreciate that. Yeah, we do think it can have a positive effect on your finances. We don’t think that you can rely solely on positive thinking. As the Bible says, “Faith without works is dead,” and we still think that as much positive thinking as you have, you still have to put forth the work and the effort to achieve whatever your goals are, whether it’s finance related or any other relationship.
[00:01:35] DA: Yeah, I think I’ll add to what John had said, you look at a lot of situations that you can get into whether you’re angry at someone or you’ve had a bad day at work or your kids are driving you crazy or whatever it may be, maybe you’re depressed? And then somebody tells you a joke or somebody calls you and says, “Thank you” or tells you a great story and it completely changes your mind, it changes your outlook and it changes your attitude.
So that’s kind of the impetus or the idea behind what we start out with positive thinking, is there is a way to change what you’re thinking about your finances today if you’re in a negative space and move it to a positive space. And that is the spark that gets you going to make the change to do something better.
[00:02:28] GC: It’s got to be a little more than just maybe a feel good technique though, right? I mean just a good joke or a good story, there’s got to be more to it than that to get you really moving along. How does that actually integrate into getting towards your financial goals?
[00:02:48] DA: I think back to when John and I were first getting out of, or realizing that we were in the situation that we were in. John and I had been together for about a year. We had $51,000 in credit card debt. We were living in a basement apartment, we were driving two mediocre cars and at the same time, we were working for a financial services firm helping other people figure out what they were supposed to do with their money.
We were looking around and we were seeing a lot of our friends were buying their first homes or condos, they were taking vacations, although we were doing that. We were doing a lot of things that probably we shouldn’t have been but we got to this point where we started to really get depressed, a little down and say, “What’s wrong with us? Why are we in this situation? How can we make a change?” And it really wasn’t until we decided to really start thinking about the successes and where we wanted to be, the goals that we had that really helped us to start turning our lives around.
We could have let that whole negative space and negative situation hang on us but we didn’t. We always kept out in front of us our goals and one of the things that I have always done when I get into a negative space — and I did a Monday Money Minute. We do a Monday Money Minute video on our website every Monday and I did a Monday Money Minute video on this recently about how gratitude is one of the biggest things that can change your attitude going from negative to positive.
That’s really where John and I started looking at our lives and saying, “Yeah, we have $51,000 in credit card debt but aren’t we fortunate that we have two cars that get us to work, that we have jobs, that we have a place to live?” Like I said earlier, it’s the spark that got us going and it’s the fuel that kept us going while we had to maybe make some choices in our lives that weren’t the most fun that allowed us to get out of debt. I agree that it’s more than just a happy thought. It’s regularly practicing a way of thinking that helps you get there. You want to add something or anything to that John?
[00:05:14] JS: No, I think that’s all true. I think the power of positive thinking isn’t about being delusional. It’s about giving yourself that spark of hope so you can focus on the opportunities and make the most of that, as opposed to focusing on the negative and working off of fear. Which I think that not paying attention to our finances and being delusional is what got us into our financial straits. That little bit of hope that we had is what helped us focus on the opportunity that we had and turn that opportunity into a success.
[00:05:44] MM: I have a question for you; sometimes even if you’re trying to be positive or trying to move forward or trying to do what you know you’re supposed to do, sometimes life gets in the way and everything starts to pile up on you a little bit. So what do you do when you can’t seem to make that space around you to find that positivity and you’re kind of drowning in negativity? Do you have any advice for somebody who’s there, that may or may not be me? [Laughter]
[00:06:20] KP: A friend of yours Miranda?
[00:06:23] MM: Totally a friend of mine. Totally.
[00:06:26] GC: Sorry, help us off of the ledge.
[00:06:29] JS: [Laughter] Not speaking to anybody directly! You know, we’re certainly not perfect. David and I are trying to start our own business with Debt Free Guys at the same time, we’re both working for a financial services firms, which take at best 40 hours a week if not longer and our side hustle takes as much as that time as anything. So it’s hard for us to go to wake up at 4:30 in the morning, do our side hustle work, go to our day job, come home and do some more of our side hustle work.
We easily get into a negative space and I think last night was a prime example. You know we got home from a long day of work and both of us just wanted to plop down the couch, eat some fried food and watch Friends or Netflix. [Laughs] But we were in a bad space and we had to turn that around. We actually decided to watch some positive thinking videos on YouTube and the power of 20 to 30 minutes, our moods have completely changed and we were focused on our long term goals.
I think our advice to those who are in that space is to seek out that positive feedback, whether it’s YouTube or a positive friend — we have great friends through the personal finance blogging space who are superbly positive. Reaching out to them helps us out a lot as well. Build your circle of protection, I guess I would say and rely on those people to help you out in your time of need.
[00:07:56] PA: Yeah, you know I think the power of positive thinking, a lot of times, it’s just going to come down with decision. That you’re making a decision to make other choices or to think positively. I like a quote from Zig Ziglar, he says that, “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will”. And it’s just no matter what it is, you have to make that choice to, “Hey, I’m going to sit down, I’m going to realize I’m in a negative place. I’m going to try to do something positive. I’m going to try to have an attitude of gratitude. I’m going to watch these videos on YouTube and try to pick my mood up. I’m going to do something for someone else. I’m going to go to the local soup kitchen and hand out some meals this weekend,” or something along those lines.
When you can get outside of yourself and think about somebody else, I think a lot of times that can be a great way to start. But again, you have to make that choice. A lot of people make the negative choice. They decide to wallow in their depression and so forth and they’ll use that as a catalyst for negative spending and they’ll go out and do a bunch of shopping to pick up their mood. They get their quick high but then it ends up being tons of credit card debt or whatever.
[00:09:15] JS: Yeah, absolutely. When I’m feeling unhealthy after holidays or because I’m depressed and I’m letting myself eat anything, I will let any opportunity let me eat anything. I’ll find any excuse to eat that chocolate cupcake with my coffee in the morning but that’s a decisive decision that I make. But if I’m feeling unhealthy and I’m focused on being a better person… No, one and a half, [Laughs] but if I’m focused on being healthy, I can stick to my diet regiment, and I can stick to my exercising and I won’t succumb to that chocolate muffin but you have to decide.
[00:09:53] GC: I think in general, positivity is sort of a habit and a practice in itself, isn’t it? The more momentum you have doing it, the easier it is to be in it and the stronger your shield is, so to speak. But how does that person who doesn’t have that habit built up yet where, you know, where it’s easy for somebody who’s pretty positive or maybe has gone through some tough things and came out of it to say, “You know what? It’s really not that bad.” But the person who’s deep down wallowing on it, they don’t always see that light. How do you reach that person? How do you get down to them when they say, “How do I get out of this? Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?”
[00:10:38] DA: I’ll take that. Traditionally, in my past I wasn’t that much of a positive person. Unfortunately, my family suffers from seasonally adjusted depression. My mother suffers from this and I know I have that whether it’s psychosomatic because I know that she has it and then I have it, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that really things started to change significantly for me. And I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that John and I really started to focus aggressively on what we wanted to do with Debt Free Guys.
It was the small successes on a regular basis that really helped me remind myself that life is getting better. My life is getting better, I’m changing things, I have a reason to live and I have a reason to do something today. I think about all of the successful people that we know in the world, whether it’s a business leader or someone we know spiritually or somebody we know in politics. When we look at those positive people, those successful people, often times we look at them and they have set an example of doing things in a positive way.
You don’t think of a depressed person as being a CEO of a company or being a spiritual leader or being a politician and leading cities or governments. It’s because they have that impetus to try to drive to doing more. And so that’s what I suggest to someone who suffers from depression or suffers from negativity, is set a series of small goals. Small things that you can do that give you that little boost that says, “Yes, I’ve done it”.
A lot of times, a lot of negativity comes from our self-worth, what we think of who we are inside. When you start to have those small achievements, whether it’s exercise or saving money or paying off your debt or having a good relationship with your kids or your spouse or whatever, set some small goals and as you tick those goals off, you’ll be amazed at how that changes your attitude towards general things in life.
That’s one of the things that I always have to remind myself when I get into a negative space and I have to remind myself these are really good things that I have going for me. I know it gets a little fluffy sometimes but if that’s what’s going to help me get through this afternoon, that’s what’s going to help me through this afternoon because I know tomorrow I’m going to be more successful when I do it.
[00:13:21] GC: It’s an interesting thing that you mentioned gratitude and that you were $51,000 in credit card debt but even that, I guess you could frame it in a way like, “You know what? We live in a place where we can be $51,000 in credit card debt,” that’s really a first world problem, you know? That actually buys you a bunch of stuff around to play around with. You know what I mean? As long as you’re not in seriously bad debt like somebody’s out to get you somehow, but really it’s kind of a privileged position. You’re not hiking 10 miles each day just to get water or worried about mosquitoes and malaria. It’s like, “I spent too much.” That’s kind of crazy. I see how it is that you’re framing it.
What do you think about just your environment in positivity or versus negativity? I know sometimes it can be the people that you’re around who have a definite play on the way that you think. Sometimes you could be even trying to get out of whatever and then everybody just says, “No, it’s not going to work. Don’t bother with it,” and I think all of us is entrepreneurs of a sort, we’ve faced that in some way same or form and that can certainly play into it. How do we avoid that?
[00:14:45] JS: Yeah, I think we had to make a decisive decision to push some people a little bit further outside of our lives unfortunately because they are in a negative space or they were negatively influencing us. Our goals have changed and since we have to focus what our long term goals are and put aside what our short term wants are. So we have to make that decision and it’s been tough. Sometimes, it requires delicate balance in trying to extend relationships with people when we have the free time to do so and then focus on what our long term goals are a little bit more.
But if you have negative people in your life who are consistently negative in your life, our suggestion would be to try to push those people away a little bit. Not cut off all ties necessarily, and certainly you don’t want to be rude or mean. If you have the opportunity to be able to help them change their thinking, it would be great. But you have to focus on yourself so you can achieve your own successes.
[00:15:45] GC: Yeah, I mean have you ever run across the person who it seems like they’re always complaining about something. Something bad is always happening to them and it just seems like the world is always out to get them, at least in their own opinion. You know, I’ve seen it repeatedly and sometimes no matter what, it feel like that. But you know, I always find it’s that sort of feeling like you know, “Everybody is doing wrong to me,” but there’s no, “I’ve done something wrong.”
[00:16:14] JS: I think being negative and thinking that the world is against you in whatever shape or form that might be for you is a coping mechanism for some people. I think it’s an addiction for some people and some people like drama in their life. You can go through Facebook and you could probably point at some people’s friends. It’s just this constant drama And those are the people that I have to put on “do not follow” list because it’s just a little bit too heavy.
I think some people are addicted to that and we’ve had negative friends in our life and we’ve tried to help them as best that we can to help them turn that around. But if you can’t influence them enough, if there’s too much of a negative impact on you, I think you definitely have to step away or step aside for a little bit, at least for the time being.
[00:16:59] PA: Yeah and one thing about the negative emotions too is that those negative emotions can be so intense. You know Maggie Baker Ph.D. and author of Crazy About Money, in her studies she found that negative emotions hit you with an intensity that’s two and a half times as strong as positive emotions. They’re just so intense and the reason for that a lot of times is because they’re signalling that there’s a disturbance or something that you should be attending to in your life.
But when you have people around you that have those negative emotions, that’s going to be affecting you in one way or the other and it’s usually not in a good way. It is something to consider, either your own negative emotions or somebody else’s, that they’re going to be affecting you even greater than a positive emotion.
[00:17:43] MM: And one of the things that I am trying to avoid right now is falling into kind of the “victim trap” where you’re like, “Oh, there’s nothing I can do. I’m stuck like this,” and I think that kind of happens with money too. You get into this trap of, “Oh, there’s nothing I could do about this”. When you had your $51,000 of credit card debt, I’m sure there are days that you’re looking at it like this mountain and being like, “I will never get beyond it”.
I think that’s one of the traps you tend to fall into as well where we give up some of our power. Where we don’t realize we have this power. We’re blinded to the fact that we have this power and in a lot of ways, we kind of need to step back and say, “No wait, I can affect my life. At the very least I can affect how I respond to it.”
[00:18:34] DA: It kind of made me think of — this is kind of humorous — the scene in “The Princess Bride”, the pit of despair. He’s only half dead or he’s only mostly dead. And I think that’s kind of the way we have to look at things in life if you are not dead, you are only mostly dead. You can get better. You can let the negativity weigh you down.
I want to say that this was a parable and I don’t know whether it was in the Bible or if it’s just an Aesop fable or something. And I think about the weed that chokes the flower or vine or whatever it is that’s trying to grow and that’s what your negative thoughts can do to any positivity that you have or that’s what negative people influence can do to you.
And so whatever it is, if you can extract that you could be providing yourself so much more opportunity to grow.
[00:19:45] GC: Yeah, I mean briefly thinking of Monty Python also. It was like seeing the knight going, “It’s just but a flesh wound”. You’ve lost your arm! [Laughter]
[00:20:02] PA: Yeah, I think that a lot of times these negative emotions too, I talked earlier about how a negative emotion might be signalling that something is wrong. It’s not necessarily bad to pay attention to those things. But when you do start to wallow in those negative feelings and so forth, that’s when it becomes a real problem. A good way to go about it maybe is to, you know, when something negative happens or you’re feeling negative to reframe that emotional trigger that you’re having and turn it into something productive.
Feeling negative like having a bunch of debt, think about it for a few minutes but don’t let yourself think about it for more than five minutes or something. And then think about something productive you can do to help fix that situation. So reframe that negative emotion and try to turn it into something positive.
[00:20:52] TD: In David and John’s case, did you guys start to focus on the 50,000 plus in debt or did you work more on those goals? Like more positively thinking, “Oh we just paid off an extra thousand dollars this month” or something like that?
[00:21:07] JS: Yeah, we learned to focus more on the little things and turn them into bigger successes. David is a numbers junkie. He had an excel spreadsheet for us with this $51,000 worth on top that we had to pay off and it seemed insurmountable at times but if we could pay off a credit card and that was a success, and give ourselves a treat for that. We could pay off $1,000 and that was a success and we slowly chipped away at it. And we realize that the longer we focus on the success and the less that we focused on the mountain to overcome, the easier the struggle was.
Then we started to share our successes with our friends and family and that made everything better. We realized there would be times that we would be in spaces, we wouldn’t get the promotion and raise that we wanted or we didn’t stick with our budget the way we had planned and we would be kind of depressed about that but we had to pull each other up out of our depression and stay focused and positive.
[00:22:03] GC: And I’m just going to interject here for a sec, if you are watching us live, head to our event page and there’s a Q&A out there. If you have a question about using positivity for your financial goals, please ask it and we’d be happy to attack that question.
But to go back to what you were talking about there, I think the power of other people’s stories and what other people have gone through is very strong. You could get a lot out of that because I think that a lot of times when you’re negative or depressed, you kind of think that you’re the only person that’s done this. You know like, “I’m the only one in debt. I’m the only one that’s got a lot of credit card debt,” and then you hear from other people and you go, “Okay, you know what? It’s not such a crazy thing. I’m not the only one and other people do get out of it”. That in itself just knowing that there are other people in the same situation as you, is a powerful way to just at least jump start your way out of it.
[00:22:59] JS: Yeah, absolutely. When we decided to get out of debt and we started to search in the Internet about ways to do so, before that we had no idea that there was this whole blogosphere personal finance people, many of whom are struggling to get out of debt or have gotten out of debt themselves. It was an eye opener to us to realize, you know, we’re just like everybody else. There are a lot of people like us. Our friends maybe are an anomaly or maybe they’re hiding the truth, we don’t know but it was heartwarming to know that we weren’t struggling alone. That’s how we eventually got into the writing about personal finance and our situation in books and blogging, that’s because we saw, “Wow, other people are doing it so we can too.”
[00:23:38] GC: Yeah, I think that’s a similar story when you talk to a good number of personal finance bloggers. I know for myself, it was just getting out of my own debt and getting my head around personal finances and then, in doing my own research found that yes there are, like you said, other outlets out there that talk about similar things. Then going, “You know what? I have some information that I could share too because I’ve gone through this,” and then you want to help other people or at least through your own stories.
That is pretty powerful, so if somebody is out there listening, you’re not alone. Go find situations that are similar to you. If you don’t find a support group, you could find the answer. There’s lots of things out there so make sure you go out there and find it. Find the right things.
But how do you transfer that positivity to the actual work now? A lot of people say, “If you just think it, it’s going to come”. Is that sort of idea positivity? And I don’t know whether it’s a 100% sure or false, there is maybe some truth to it and maybe some hooeyness to it. But you know, there’s that, “If we just hope, somehow it’s going to come back to me”. What’s the range on that, for lack of a better description?
[00:25:01] DA: I’ll take that one. I’m just going to say it, there is a lot of “hooey” out there when it comes to positive thinking. I know what you mentioned earlier about the whole Porsche thing. I think that there’s a lot of people out there who believe that, “The more I think about something, the more it’s going to happen.” Well that’s true only if you do something with it.
We already had that comment about faith without works. The more you think about something, the more positively you think about something, the reason why you think about it positively is because it then motivates you to do something. It makes you want to make a change or it makes you want to stop your spending, it makes you want to start investing or saving money for that goal that you want. So the work has to come in there.
It’s very easy to get lax. I think that there’s basically three mental attitudes out there. There is a negative mental attitude which is a detractor often. Peter, you said that the spending thing the downward spiral of spending, and I think that there’s a lot of destructive behaviors around negative thinking. And then there’s the “meh” thinking and you just don’t care. Some days you’re good, some days you’re bad and it just doesn’t matter. Like, “Oh if I get a raise this year, yeah, yeah.”
[00:26:28] JS: It sounds like the facts of life.
[00:26:30] DA: Right. [Laughs] That did kind of sound like the facts of life, but then it’s the person who that has that drive, that motivation, that positive thinking, they are going to be the ones who actually put the steps in motion and they’re going to be the one that create that checklist of, “These are the things that I need to do today to get from step A to A.1 and A.1 leads to eventually B and that’s where I want to be.” So it’s that power of motivation that drives us and it has to start with somebody saying, “I want to be somewhere different than where I am right now,” and that is a positive thinking attitude when you say, “I want to be somewhere better than I am today.”
[00:27:13] MM: Yeah, but I like how you talk about making the plan because I do think that there a lot of people who do sit around and say, “Oh well, I do want to be someplace else,” and then just sit there and say, “Oh I want to be someplace else” and let that fall. It just sort of reminded me too when you were kind of talking about the Bible and Biblical principles, I knew somebody once who said a long time ago, they said, “Oh well, you know a tithe should be 10% of what you earn to give to God. So what you need to do is pre-pay your tithing. So pay tithing on the income that you think you want and then it’s like magic. God will bless you with that income.” And I was just going, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know if that’s how it works”.
[00:28:03] PA: There goes my whole salary. [Laughter]
[00:28:08] GC: That floats into like some John Oliver territory about his religious talks about churches. “As long as I get my share first,” I mean not to say that there’s definitely something to it. If you have a certain goal, take that money first. Pay yourself first or pay tithing or whatever it is first but it sounds funny when you’re like, “Come up with an amount and then everything else will follow.”
[00:28:35] MM: Yes, that’s what blew my mind about it. It’s like, “Oh well if you want to make $5,000 this month, do your $500 to God for this month first and then he’ll bless you with that”. I’m like, “I think the promise is you’ll have what you need. It’s not like I’ll put in my request here.” He just promises that you’ll have what you need that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get certain dollar amounts.
[00:29:01] PA: Yeah, exactly. It’s a point where positive thinking turns into magical thinking where you’re just believing something is going to happen when there’s no real reason why it should happen. Positive thinking is best when it’s catalyst, when it starts a chain reaction of giving you the motivation you need in order to start making plans for your future, to set a budget, find new ways to make money, start a side business or whatever. It’s best when it’s that catalyst to start that process not when it’s everything, you know, “I’m going to think positively and positive things are going to happen.”
[00:29:35] TD: Yeah, we’re talking about productive positive thinking not the secret and the law of attraction or myth or critics.
[00:29:43] GC: Or like the beginning of like any Disney film where you hear “when you wish upon a star” you know? Like all of a sudden it’s just gonna come if the right thing happens and prince charming is going to come and take you away and solve all your problems.
[00:29:57] JS: Well I got my prince charming. [Laughter]
[00:30:03] GC: But did he show up because of a glass slipper, or because — I’m guessing there was some work involved and then probably some work to maintain it.
[00:30:16] JS: Around here, right.
[00:30:21] DA: You know — steering back to the real conversation. All of us can put those scenarios into our head where we know it’s actually never going to happen. I can’t say that I’m ever going to beat Usain Bolt a race. I may want to really, really bad and I can think about it all I want to but it’s never going to happen, you know? So you hit on the head of where is the productive step forward? Where is the productive positive thinking? What conversation am I going to have in my head? What story am I going to play out that is positive and achievable for me and for the skills that I have? That’s really what it’s about, is that next step towards where you really want to get to.
[00:31:15] JS: Yeah, I mean that’s a great example. We think about athletes and you can watch them at the Olympics or before their game, they’re often times mentally visualizing their win. That’s a power of positive thinking. They’re not sitting there thinking, “How am I going to lose this game?” unless you’re one of the Bronco’s. Not this year. But they’re often times sitting there and thinking about how they’re gonna win that game.
[00:31:42] GC: We have a version of that here and they’re called The Jets, by the way.
[00:31:49] JS: They are often times thinking about how they’re going to win that game or win that event or land that move and not thinking negatively. I think that should be an inspiration or an example for us. Whatever our goal is whether it’s with money, or finance or our career or whatever is within our circle of influence, that’s the power of positive thinking. Imagine yourself winning that event of yours whatever that might be so that you could put forth the work and the steps to achieve those things.
[00:32:18] GC: It’s almost like you’re working on a muscle memory of sorts like an athlete has that in case, for whatever reason, their bodies just move where they have to move. When you’re always thinking or framing things positively, your thoughts kind of go in that direction anyway. You don’t get suck down into the black hole so to speak.
[00:32:39] JS: Yeah, I guess it’s true and to the question earlier about how do you overcome the beginning struggles of trying to start thinking positively, it’s just the power, I guess the power of repetition, And eventually, that muscle memory will start to react sooner and it will become easier. You just kind of have to overcome that hurdle just like getting to the gym that first two or three or four times.
[00:33:00] GC: It’s like your neural plasticity changes and I’m going to use those big words. I’m going to say my big words because the next thing I was going to say is like in Dumb and Dumber when they’re like, “There’s still a chance, right?”
[00:33:15] PA: They’re balanced.
[00:33:16] MM: Oh dear.
[00:33:18] GC: No, I just remembered somebody, I think it was in school, a teacher who said there was a big difference between impossible and improbable. Tell me something is impossible and I’ll prove you wrong. Tell me it’s improbable, okay maybe I’ll believe you but there’s still a chance and anything can happen. You know you say you’ll never beat Usain Bolt in the race, you know what? If he breaks his leg, I’m going to run faster than him. [Laughter]
[00:33:46] JS: Is that positive thinking if you have to wait for the other person to get hurt?
[00:33:50] MM: I was just going to say, I was just going to say, when you were talking about the sports visualization…
[00:33:53] GC: If he’s sleeping, I could run faster than him. [Laughter]
[00:33:57] MM: That’s right. When you think about the sports visualization, one of the things that I was thinking about was, the nice thing about applying this in your own personal life and in your personal financial goals or career goals or whatever is that it doesn’t have to come at the expenses of somebody else.
When you’re talking about athletes who are like, “Oh, well I’ve got to visualize the game,” well somebody’s going to lose in that situation but the nice thing about moving forward with your own life is it doesn’t have to be a situation where there’s somebody else that’s loosing and I kind of like that aspect of personal positivity in reaching for your own goals as well.
[00:34:31] TD: Yeah but if you pay off your own debt, what about all the poor banks? They’re like, “Oh, poor banks”.
[00:34:38] MM: No, I said people, I said people.
[00:34:40] GC: When we pay off our debt, we’re productive and we pay more taxes and then taxes can go down at the banks.
[00:34:45] MM: Just because the Supreme Court says that they’re people doesn’t mean I believe that they’re people. [Laughter]
[00:34:51] PA: Here we go.
[00:34:53] MM: Tom’s like, “Back away. Back away”.
[00:34:59] DA: You know, I can’t remember who said it because it’s all these different quotes flying through my head, but I want to say that it’s Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” And that’s what really gets down to is, if you think you can’t because that’s the story you play over and over again in your head, you’re not going to because there’s no reason for you to if you think you can’t. But if you think that you can, you’re going to play out that story until you figure out how that is going to happen.
That’s what John and I did with our debt. We could have said, “Oh well, this is so much money. This is going to take us forever to pay off and we’re never going to have fun and never, never, no, no, no.” That’s not the story we played in our head. The story that we played in our head was, “Can you imagine what it’s going to be like when we were going to be debt free? Can you imagine what we’re going to be able to do? How we’re going to feel? No more stress”. Those are the stories that we played over and over again in our head and that’s what helped us pay off a $1,000 until we got to 50. Pay off $5,000 to get to $45,000.
It was those stories that helped us say to ourselves, “I’m going to choose this kind of vacation instead of this kind of vacation”. I’m going to choose to drive this kind of car versus this kind of car. We’re going to go to fast food or make dinner at home instead of going out with our friends for a happy hour and spending $150 on drinks and a nice dinner.” It was that kind of positive story that really helped us win our $51,000 back.
[00:36:39] MM: Did you have to convince yourself that it was better to stay in and make dinner.
[00:36:45] JS: We did, in fact we did.
[00:36:47] MM: It’s kind of hard to convince because there are sometimes where I find myself like, “I am really going to make myself believe this thing,” so I mean did you have to do that?
[00:36:54] DA: “This is going to be a really good dinner.”
[00:36:56] MM: “It’s gonna be amazing. “
[00:36:59] JS: Yeah, it was a culture shock for us because at the time, part of the way that we acquired so much debt was because we were in the heart of the gay lifestyle. Going out to clubs every weekend, buying new clothes that we couldn’t afford every weekend, so we wear the same thing over and over again, having the newest phones. It is all about who you wore and what you had.
And so we did have to convince ourselves that staying home in the basement, watching something on — what did we have? Was it TiVo? We had TiVo — watching something on TiVo was as fun as going to the club and dancing until 5 AM. Yeah, we really have to force ourselves to do that but we have to repeat that habit over and over again so that it became real. And eventually we realized the goals that we were achieving were much more rewarding than going out and dancing.
[00:37:55] GC: We’re losing you guys a little bit but to just interject a little bit, I think that lifestyle is something that a lot of people fall into. It’s like, “Let me just go out and live it now and then we’ll see what happens.” But then you do that too much and then what happens is, you get to a point where you can’t do that anymore because you’re broke or it’s like Keeping up with the Jones’s. “I’m going to do what everybody else does,” and we hear different variations of that over, and over, and over again.
It’s just funny how when you take care of all your finances and you can get out of debt and you get to that other side and made all those sacrifices, you may not have spent or done all the things that you may have wanted to do by getting that debt off your back, just feels so good. And then somehow or another, that freedom really is worth getting rid of that. It’s a funny thing that you wouldn’t necessarily believe but once that’s done, it does lift the weight off your shoulders that you really can’t describe until it happens.
[00:39:01] DA: Absolutely, Right. I hear a lot of people say, “I want it all and I want to be able to do everything” and I agree. You can do and have everything, you just have to earn it. And so, “What are you going to do to earn it,” is the question. You’re going to either earn it now or you’re going to earn it later and it’s going to be a pain to try to earn it later when you’re trying to pay it off at 15, 20, 25 percent annual interest rate. You’re going to have to earn 15, 20 or 25 percent more every year just to pay off all that stuff that you’re anchoring yourself to in the past.
I mean that’s one of the things that it’s a meme that I put out there every once in a while. That our spending today on credit is anchoring our future earnings to the past and that’s what you’re kind of doing is that you’re just throwing this anchor out there and say, “I’m going to stay here in February of 1994 because I decided to buy a thousand dollar golf clubs that are still not paid off” and it’s what happens. That’s how people end up having credit card debt that last for decades.
When I tell our story, I acquired my first credit card debt in 1994 when my parents co-signed on a credit card for me so I could go to Ireland on a vacation and it was supposed to be for emergencies and there were no emergencies but that credit card was maxed out when I got home.
[00:40:38] JS: And you had debt from ’92 or ’94?
[00:40:41] DA: Right that lasted until 2006, 2007 actually so 13 years of credit card debt.
[00:40:52] PA: Yeah, I think a lot of us, a lot of times we’re spending money, we’re going out and buying things or buying experiences and we’re chasing after things because we think these things are going to make us happy or gonna make us feel fulfilled or whatever and we’re not contented living our lives unless we’re spending or doing something. For me personally, I found that it wasn’t until I just became contented with what I had. Like you guys talked about earlier about having an attitude of gratitude, just being grateful for all the things that you already have, it was only then that I realized I didn’t need to buy the newest phone or be spending money on this expensive trips or whatever.
I like one quote that I remember reading somewhere, it was something like, “Allow your convictions not circumstances to determine your contentment”. It’s the idea of be content not by what is happening around you but by your convictions and say, “Hey, I’m going to be grateful and I’m going to be content with what I have. I don’t need to go out and spend a ton of money to be happy.”
[00:42:07] JS: That’s a liberating feeling to have. When you’re focused on needing to acquire new things, you can try to acquire things everyday all day for the rest of your life and you can never be content but if you achieve that feeling of contentment, then you’ve succeeded and you’re done. Just focus on being happy.
[00:42:25] MM: That’s a good point too because if your focus is on this outside thing of how much do I have, there’s always more you can have. You will never ever, ever get all there is and then if you start comparing yourself to other people and saying, “How much do I have compared to this other person”, there’ll always be somebody who has more. So you really kind of do have to be in that habit of looking inside yourself and saying “Well, what matters to me and am I doing the things with my money that matter to me the most?” Because there’s always going to be somebody with more or somebody who’s better at something. If you peg all of your stuff, all of these things outside that you really can’t control, then where are you going to be at? You’re going to spend all your money chasing that.
[00:43:15] JS: I think that’s why you’ve seen the news often times, these billionaire CEO’s who run their companies into the ground doing the little things trying to make more money and you think to yourself, “My gosh, you have a million dollars. How much more do you need?” I’d be fine with a million dollars, you know? I think that’s where it is.
[00:43:30] MM: “Just give me $500,000 and let me go.”
[00:43:35] JS: Exactly. You can never be content if you keep looking for outside things to provide you with contentment. You have to look for the things that’s within yourself.
[00:43:44] PA: That goes back to the quote when they asked John D. Rockefeller how much is enough for him and he said, “Just one dollar more”, right?
[00:43:52] JS: Exactly and just like the addict, “I just need one more drink” or “I just need one more cigarette” or whatever. They just always need one more to go into perpetuity.
[00:44:02] GC: I mea that just goest to — we talk about it in a lot of different episodes about finding the things that you value and then going after that. Realizing that things that you have to let go of things that you don’t value and then., “Why do you value this things?” And that’s why you’re working hard towards them as far as reaching your goals.
I wanted to just jump back into it a little bit about reframing things in other people’s stories. It seems like if you look at any successful business or person, you think that people are overnight successes and you always hear about that. Everything is glorified that way but when you really hear about their stories, it’s really just a road of failure after failure and something then takes traction. It’s always amazing to hear that. To me, that’s in a way inspiring because it means that when I’m doing something and it fails, it’s not necessarily the end.
[00:45:03] DA: I know what you’re talking about.
[00:45:04] JS: In fact you do.
[00:45:06] DA: We have a meme that or we share it every once in a while on Facebook or Twitter and it’s the iceberg. If you look at the iceberg and what you see above the water and below the water. What you usually see below the water is 75 to 90% of the size of the iceberg and everybody sees the work that’s sticking out of the water. That’s what they say you did to get to your success and it’s everything that’s below the water that you know that you put in your blood, sweat and tears in. Only the people that are close to you know that.
That could easily become a negative thing for you. If you think, “Oh my God, it’s going to take so much work, it’s so hard. It’s so difficult,” but the success and the reward that comes from that is worth it because of self-satisfaction when you lay down at night and you close your eyes. I mean there are times when John and I lay there and we talk a little bit before we go to bed about the things that we’re excited about and things that we’re happy about. We’ve put in a 12 to 15 hour day of work and we’re exhausted and we have to think to ourselves sometimes, “This is our underwater iceberg and this is what excites us. It’s that we are putting all these work so that someday we have that success and we are already starting to see some of it when you see that above the water success. If it makes you happy and it keeps you in a positive space, then that’s what’s important.
[00:46:40] GC: We do have a question here from Robert Farrington of the College Investor and he’s asking, “What are your thoughts on staying positive on long term goals when you face short term adversity?”
[00:46:58] DA: The reality is that every day we’re going to face something. I was listening to a podcast by Fletcher Ellison, Go Coach Fletch, and he talked about the scenario with his kids in his household and how they’re always saying, “Well that’s not fair,” or, “They always get,” or, “I never get”. I think we’re raised with this mentality of adversity and we face adversity on a daily basis whether it’s driving to work or our boss or our family. There are always going to be those small hurdles that we have to overcome.
For me, one of the driving motivators in overcoming those and saying, “I can get through this,” is because I have long term goals. If I don’t have long term goals, then what’s in front of me will all of a sudden become mountains and they’re the insurmountable things. It’s that long term goal that’s going to motivate me to keep going because I see the road and the path ahead of me.
[00:48:06] JS: I think you need to know why those long term goals are important for you. Somebody said this, eluded to this earlier, if you know why those long term goals are important to you, you can refer back to that every time you struggle or you think about just giving up, “Why is it you want to achieve that goal to begin with?”
[00:48:22] MM: Yeah and I think part of what I am working on right now is saying, “It’s not the end of the world if you’re not on track or completely following whatever timeline you think you should be on.” A lot of the time, I’ll run into days where it’s like, “Today, I’m going to be super productive,” and then it’s just one thing after another. It’s like death by a thousand paper cuts. All these little things are just these minor annoyances like if there’s one thing that happened today, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But why do all of the minor annoyances have to converge upon me at once, right?
I think being able to say, “Well you know, I didn’t do as much as I wanted to do today, I didn’t exercise today,” whatever it was. Or, “I didn’t get bills paid today,” or whatever stupid thing it was, you can sit there and say, “You know that doesn’t mean that it’s all over and I have to stop immediately.” There is always that hope in tomorrow I think.
[00:49:20] JS: Yeah, absolutely and you can’t beat yourself up for getting side tracked or getting frustrated or giving up maybe even for the day or a couple of hours. Just as long as you can get back on track and that’s the important thing. I think that’s why it is important to know what your long term goals are and why they are your goals.
[00:49:37] DA: I’m going to… Sorry.
[00:49:39] GC: Well, I was just going to say that sometimes you have to stay fluid too and it’s okay if your long term goals change also. I think sometimes people get like very myopic and they think that they have this one goal and they have to stick to it no matter what. Then they forget that maybe that’s really not their value anymore. They let things get to them or they chase after something that’s really not there for them. So it’s okay if things change as long as you realize it and you look at your own “why’s” every once in a while. It’s okay to be side tracked because maybe that track goes to somewheres else that’s better for you too.
[00:50:19] DA: Because you asked the question, I’m going to use an investor analogy here. Minus the last couple of days in the psychotic nature of the market, but if you’re an investor and you see that the market is down 100 points one day, you don’t throw in the towel and say, “This is it. I’m done”. You look at that and you say, “Okay, we’ve had a down day. Now, we’re going to have an up day,” and hopefully you continue to have that upward trajectory with your life just like we do with investing, you will reach your financial goals.
[00:50:59] MM: So it’s time to find the bargains in your life.
[00:51:04] GC: That’s all the framework and everything else just went on sale. Isn’t that like what Buffet says basically.
[00:51:12] JS: Now that’s distracting.
[00:51:16] GC: Yeah.
[00:51:16] PA: Yeah, it just comes back down to when you’re going through those short term struggles, thinking about what’s important in your life and what are you grateful for? Your family, your faith, your friends, those things are really important to you. And then you look at your long term goals and why are you focused on those things and it’s got to be because those things are important to you. Those small everyday things that are getting in your way, those adversities, they tend to melt away a little bit when you start focusing on the things that are important.
[00:51:46] JS: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:51:48] GC: Great question Robert and thank you for posting it for us. We’re coming on an hour here so what we’d like to do is kind of sum up things at the end of our show and give our final thoughts on the subject. So Miranda, if you’ll give us your final thoughts on the power of positive thinking in reaching your financial goals.
[00:52:09] MM: Yeah, so I think having a plan, like we touched on earlier, is really important and having that work to back it up. I think a big part of it is making sure that your plan is broken down into achievable steps, things that you can do. There are some days when I look at everything that I still have left to do and just say, “You know if I can just get one thing done today, that will be a victory and that’s something to celebrate,” and just sort of breaking it down and moving forward that way to move on your track or whatever. I have one down, somebody else go!
[00:52:52] GC: Peter, what are your final thoughts.
[00:52:54] PA: Alright, I’ll give you a Zig Ziglar quote again, I like him, “Expect the best, prepare for the worst and capitalize on what comes”. So just use your positive thinking as a catalyst for action. Don’t just think that positive thinking will be a magical thinking where good things are going to happen. Go out there and use that positive thinking as catalyst for action to make good things happen.
[00:53:18] GC: Tom, your final thoughts?
[00:53:19] TD: I sort of mentioned it before, positivity can equal productivity. If you’re not thinking about something positively, you are just going to be sitting on the couch eating chocolate muffins or whatever it was.
[00:53:32] GC: Well, don’t knock the chocolate muffins. Nothing wrong with the chocolate muffins.
[00:53:37] TD: But if you let yourself get into that sort of negative thinking, you really don’t get things done and then it’s just worse and it’s a downward spiral from there.
[00:53:45] GC: Yeah. I mean I’ll throw in some thoughts. It’s not “these magical sun rays that come down if I think good thoughts, things are going to happen to me” but I think it does frames the way you approach problems. When you’re always negative you’re kind of always closing doors but if you remain positive about things, it opens up other opportunities — you see the opportunities that are there and you have the opportunity to take advantage of them. And I think that’s the difference and that’s sort of like the magical lock that a lot of people think is there but really, it’s just seeing opportunities that have always been there that you might have clouded yourself with. Good for you guys? Dave and John, what are your final thoughts?
[00:54:34] DA: I’m going to also do a quote. This is probably one of my mantras in life and I live by it, I have it pasted up in my cube at work. It’s from Napoleon Hill from his Think and Grow Rich. He said, “No one drifts to success” and the reason why I love that is because it puts in my mind the image of somebody who’s sitting in a boat and you can either just sit there and let the waves or the current take you wherever it is and that’s what negativity does or that’s what having that attitude in life does to you.
Or you can grab the paddle, figure out where you want to go and then start moving in that direction. And to me, it’s the thought process between your head and the paddle hitting the water is the positive thinking and it’s the paddle in the water is the action moving you towards whatever goal it is that you want to get to. Put the thought process in your head and then grab the paddle and let’s get going.
[00:55:40] GC: And John do you want to add to that?
[00:55:41] JS: Sure. I think what I would add to that is, regardless of whatever situation you’re in, no matter how bleak it seems and how impossible it may seem, there’s a good chance that you’re in that situation for a reason. If you overcome that, you can turn that negative situation into a positive situation.
You know when we were in the basement with a $51,000 worth of credit card debt, it seemed horrible. I mean in fact t it was dark in there because we were in the basement and below the ground, and getting out just seemed impossible. I wouldn’t have thought that 10 years later we’d be here talking to all you people. Whatever situation you’re in, you can turn that into a positive situation and maybe help somebody.
[00:56:21] GC: Great thoughts everyone. John and David, for those people out there who may not be familiar with the work you do, if you could tell us a little bit about Debt Free Guys and where people could find more about you?
[00:56:35] DA: We have our website where our blog is at Debtfreeguys.com where we encourage people to live debt free, have fun, and be money conscious. And that’s really kind of our focus, is help people to be money conscious and understand why and where they’re spending their money. Then we have several eBooks and a hard copy book where we kind of guide people towards being money conscious and having a positive plan and place in their life or the four principles of a debt free life. That’s kind of our focus, we really want to help people free themselves from these chains of debt.
[00:57:14] GC: So go out there and make sure to take a look at Debt Free Guys. Thank you again for joining us tonight and sharing your expertise. Thank you everybody else out there for watching and listening and until next week, be good with your money.
[END OF MASTERMIND]
[00:57:27] ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on the Money Mastermind Show. Get more information at Moneymastermindshow.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes and YouTube and follow us on Google Plus.
Important issues discussed in this episode:
- Could negativity be holding you back from achieving your money goals?
- Is positive thinking for your finances really effective?
- What else do you have to do in order to find success with your financial goals?
- Are there steps you can take to feel more positive and turn your financial life around?
- How can you make the most of what you have?
Panelists In This Episode:
- Special Guest: David and John | Debt Free Guys
- Glen Craig | Free From Broke
- Kyle Prevost | Young and Thrifty
- Miranda Marquit | Planting Money Seeds
- Peter Anderson | Bible Money Matters
- Tom Drake | Canadian Finance Blog
For a quick bio of each of our show participants, head on over to our panelists page.
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