Self-Discipline and Financial Success

Credit cards aren’t some evil tools of wealth destruction.  They don’t automatically get people deep into debt.

Of course, if there is no discipline by the cardholder, debt January be incurred.  I’d blame that on the cardholder, not the credit card itself.  It’s not like the credit card walks into a store on two legs and starts charging purchases!

By the same token, if somebody brings in a decent amount of income, some of it should be saved.  It’s not like most people are required to deplete their paycheck to pay for everything they want.  Perhaps much of it goes towards things that are needed, but not necessarily for things that are simply wanted.  For example, it’s not like a person is possessed by some force of nature for the purpose of buying a luxury car.  Or, it’s not like one is cuffed and dragged to a store to buy a new pair of expensive shoes.

The reality is that we have the ability to make the right choices.  In terms of spending choice, most of us know what to do.  It isn’t that complicated.  Spend less than we make, resulting in some savings, which we then invest.   If we’re fortunate, Januarybe someday we can reach financial freedom.  Even if that doesn’t happen so easily, at least we can live a life that’s responsible.

I’m beginning to think that the key to all this is self-discipline.  If we simply learn how to control ourselves and make good choices, it can happen!

The key is probably making the right choices every day, so that over time we build up strong financial habits and an equally solid income stream and portfolio of savings and investments.  The right choices, every day.

An example of making the right choices each day is a friend of mine, who was once out of shape.  A few decades ago, he was most definitely overweight – and had a less than stellar diet.  He would have been an example of some who, at the time, did not make the right choices every day.

Then, he decided to get fit.  He first went to the gym religiously, and then added nutrition as a passion of his a few years later.  He made the right choices almost every day, working out 6 days per week and truly watching what he ate.  He studies nutrition to the point of it being practically a hobby of his, and actually applies this knowledge by making smart choices.  Every. Single. Day.

The result? Years later, the guy is in absolutely phenomenal shape.  He made the right choices by being disciplined, and is now enjoying a very active and very healthy life.  While others have shown some decline over the years, he’s now clearly at a high level of fitness, well differentiated vs. others.

I really think his example can be applied to finances.  If one takes that approach by being disciplined with spending and other personal finance choices, perhaps the same success could be achieved.

Readers, do you think that discipline is a big part of personal finance success? If a person has discipline in one area of life, shouldn’t it be possible to carry this over to personal finance decisions?

 

15 thoughts on “Self-Discipline and Financial Success

  1. Pauline

    You can be disciplined if you want, like your friend, to be in stellar shape, or run a marathon, or be a model. You can still find a nice spot in the middle, where you don’t have to pay too much attention, but can’t go overboard (with spending and chocolate cake alike). What you can’t afford it to be a financial wreck. I’d rather be somewhere in the middle because I lack the discipline most days, but I roughly know that the path I am headed is a fine one.

    1. Post author

      I think the key is to find a level that’s sustainable over the long-term. The friend I mentioned has the capacity to be disciplined at a high level, but for a lot of people it’s just not in their makeup. However, I think that for many people there is room to improve from zero discipline. A middle ground is certainly much better than the alternatives, I agree.

  2. Edward Antrobus

    I’m not sure that being disciplined in one area of your life carries over well to being discipline din other areas. Each action is a separate habit that needs to be built up. I hang up my towel after I shower every day, but I’ll let the clean towels sit in the basket for a week before putting them away!

    1. Post author

      Perhaps. I’m sure there are many people who have discipline in some areas and none in others. That being said, I think that being disciplined in general is probably a good thing, as in a way it’s a skill.

  3. Moneycone

    Credit cards can actually make you money and provide you with interest-free float for about a month *if* you pay it in full! Again, self-discipline. No wonder credit card companies have a name for those who don’t carry a balance – dead beats!

    1. Post author

      Moneycone, good points – just being disciplined can make cards less risky and more beneficial in some cases!

  4. Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa

    I think self-discipline is the key to financial success over 95% of the time. However, I do think for some people self discipline is not enough, whether is career prospects or if they were the victim of predatory lending, there are definitely factors outside of self-discipline that can completely change the odds of financial success.

    1. Post author

      Agreed completely, that much of the time discipline is the key but there are things that are outside of this realm that matter a lot. Frankly, I’d say that there is probably a decent amount of luck involved and an element of randomness we can’t control.

    1. Post author

      Self-discipline can really help a person go from wanting success to actually achieving it. After all, plans don’t mean so much if not acted upon.

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