All of life is a balancing act. Driving a car is a delicate balance between the gas, the brake, and the steering wheel. Too much brake and we go nowhere. Too much gas and we can’t control the car. Too much left turn and we end up in the ditch. When we attain balance between all these controls, we arrive at our destination unscathed and in record time.
Finding balance with your finances is similar to driving a car. You must learn to balance your debt (the past) with your savings (the future) and your desire to spend money for your life now (the present). When you get out of balance, you end up in the ditch. Every time you make a decision to do something with your money, it also affects the other areas. If you buy a new suit now, that money is not available to pay off debt, nor is it available to save for your future. You must strike a balance to stay out of the ditch.
If you don’t understand the concept of balance, you may be soured on the idea of becoming debt-free. Does becoming debt-free conjure up a vision of using all your finances to pay off debt and leaving nothing for the present and the future? (peanut butter and Top Ramen anyone?) This would be like driving with the brake on; you won’t get very far. Putting all your effort into only one of the three areas of your finances—past, present, or future—will not work. No one can drive a car using only the brake and ignoring the gas pedal and the steering wheel. You would never consider driving that way. Yet, most people have that image when they contemplate paying off their debt: all brake.
Instead, think of the decision to eliminate debt as a promise to stop driving recklessly—to drive within the speed limit, stay between the lines, and follow the GPS to your destination. That’s called driving responsibly, and that’s how you need to use your money. Not spending it on whatever you want now, without regard to your income or other commitments. Not buying a house because you love it, but buying the house that fits your income and your needs. The right balance is what you need to reach the financial destination of your dreams.