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The Victim Mentality
I was reading a post over at Moolanomy.com the other day that really got me thinking about the idea of a victim mentality, personal responsibility and how people handicap themselves by blaming others when they have problems.
I think it is helpful to first define when I mean by a victim mentality. Moolanomy.com gives a good definition for this discussion:
a tendency to blame external or uncontrollable factors, instead of focusing on internal or controllable factors for things that go wrong
I think this lack of personal responsibility is one of the biggest problems we face today as a society. Much of the credit crunch and foreclosure crisis we're having can be placed squarely at the feet of people's lack of responsibility. People are buying into the lie that there is always someone else to blame (and someone else to depend on) and as a result find themselves paralyzed when it comes time to make wise financial decisions on their own. They feel powerless. We live in a consuming society where if we want something – we buy it. Never mind the consequences. We'll just blame someone else for our money problems later on!
Do You Know A Persistent Victim? (Or Is It You?)
Have you ever known someone that always has an excuse for every problem that they have? When they can't make their credit card payment, they blame the credit card company for giving them a card with such a high interest rate. When they get into an interest only or adjustable rate mortgage and they end up in foreclosure, they blame the banks for giving them a loan on such horrible terms. They always look to blame someone else when in reality they should have taken responsibility and made better decisions for themselves and their families. They should have been more responsible with their financial choices.
When it comes to personal finance, playing the victim card instead of taking responsibility will get you to one place – broke and in debt. It all comes down to how you think, and how you react to your thinking. Henry Ford once said:
Whether you believe you can, or you can't, you are right.
The power of positive (or negative) thinking is very real.
Ok, So I Want To Take Responsibility. Now What?
The first step to turning things around, is just realizing that you are in fact in control of your own destiny. You don't have to rely on the government, the banks or your credit card company to help you stay in control of your finances. You can take steps to turn things around, and take responsibility for your financial decisions.
- Decide to stop your debt spiral and stop taking on new debt. Stop using the credit cards and don't take on any new loans.
- Set up a monthly budget, and live by it!
- Save a baby emergency fund ($1000-2000) for little emergencies that come up.
- Set up a debt snowball, and pay off your debts with the smallest balance first. If you need to – get an extra part time job or make money online to help pay off your debts.
- Save 3-6 months of expenses in case you lose a job, get ill, or something else along those lines.
- Save 15-20% for retirement.
That is a good place to start. If you have questions about where you should begin, drop me a line and I'll do my best to help answer your question.
Freedom Through Responsibility
One thing that I've found that financial responsibility brings – is freedom. Freedom to know that you can rely on yourself instead of depending on someone else for your financial destiny. The freedom to be debt free. The freedom to grow wealth instead of wallowing in debt. You will find incredible peace of mind (like I have found) when your last debt is paid off.
The Bible says:
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
By the same token, those who don't borrow are no longer ruled over, but are free! Start on your own journey towards financial freedom today!
Have you ever engaged in the “victim mentality”, and what did you do to get yourself turned around? Do you agree that the “victim mentality” is pervasive in our society?