A couple years ago, the nation looked on in fascination and disgust as Nadya Suleman, the “Octomom,” gave birth to eight children, then eventually approached Oprah and Suze Orman for help. And while I’m not a huge fan of Nadya or Suze, I still go back to the conversation they had on the Oprah Show as an example of how many of us fool ourselves into thinking we’re “making it,” financially, when really we’re just barely scraping by.
When Suze asked Nadya what she was thinking when she decided to have more kids, Nadya commented that she was getting by day-to-day just fine. Suze asked if she was “making it,” and Nadya said that yes, she was making it but things were tough. And then came my favorite part:
Suze stopped Nadya mid-sentence to inform her that she was not “making it.” Making it is NOT getting up in the morning and making it through the day to try the next day.
Making it is:
- Having an emergency fund
- Not having credit card debt
- Not needing food stamps
- Putting money in your retirement
This made me really think about how many of us spend money on things we can’t afford and don’t really need, thinking that just because we are still able to pay the bills and we have a job that we are making it and will figure it out in the future. I did this when I first graduated from college – I spent a summer living on my credit card, figuring that when I started my new job in the fall, I would pay off the debt right away.
Little did I know that it would take me more than five years to finally see a $0 balance on that card. And that didn’t come easily either – I threw every little “windfall” that came my way into getting that debt paid. Tax rebate check? Straight to VISA. Work bonus? In the mail to VISA. Raffle winning at a fund-raiser? Hello, VISA. You get the point.
I sacrificed quite a few opportunities to enjoy exotic travel or indulgent spa treatments or even just an extra visit with family because I knew that until that debt was gone, I shouldn’t be spending a lot of money on non-essentials. I WASN’T making it, even if I had a great-paying job, was putting money in my 401k and was still in my 20′s.
I’m not professing that unless your financial picture is perfect, you shouldn’t take a vacation or buy that new couch you need. “Making it” is a goal to be worked toward for most of us and getting there doesn’t guarantee financial peace. Just don’t fool yourself when you’re whipping out that credit card next time you know you probably shouldn’t.
What does “making it” mean to you? Let me know in the comments below.