As defined by, Merriam-Webster dictionary, a comfort zone is “a place, situation, or level where someone feels confident and comfortable or the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity.” Finance is defined as “the way in which money is used and handled.” So the definition of “comfort zone finance” is literally acting in a way in which you feel confident and comfortable handling money. Now you’re thinking, “what’s so bad about that?” This warm and fuzzy place of comfort resembles being cuddled up in nice warm blanket on a cold rainy day with your favorite book (or Netflix show) to keep you company. If we could stay in that position forever, warm, comfortable on our couch, relaxing and make money doing it we’d all be professionals! We’d all be so successful at it because it’s easy, it’s thoughtless and it doesn’t push us out of our comfort zone. Maybe we’d venture to watch a thought provoking documentary, but that’s about it! Being in that mindset, when it comes to our finances will only push us to do what we “know”, what we believe “works” and what we are “comfortable” with.
Do you know what your personal financial comfort zone is?
Your financial comfort zone can include a variety of techniques and ways in which you handle money. Some people always carry a credit card for those “just in case” purchases. These are purchases you really don’t have the money to buy, but the credit card gives you peace of mind, a level of comfort, a safety net. Some people have as much money saved as they have debt. It’s a scary thing taking a large sum of money you’ve been able to amass and throwing it all towards the things that you haven’t fully paid for. Some people will only set aside a small amount of money for savings, when they could really save more, but would rather use their money freely and not feel the pressured to a budget, so they just save less.
These are all examples of people living inside of a finance comfort zone. I completely understand why people don’t like stepping outside of their comfort zone because change and the unknown is a scary place. I personally love to stay within my zone when it comes to food. I am an extremely picky eater and I stick with what I know I’m sure about, in retrospect, I’ve passed up a lot of amazing opportunities to try something that I might actually love (especially when I travel abroad).
Are you willing to step outside of your financial comfort zone?
If I had to describe stepping outside of your financial comfort zone I would say it looks like radical change. Our good friends at Merriam-Webster define radical as “very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary” and change “to make (someone or something) different.” A radical, short-term and hopefully transformational, change to your finances may look like cutting the cable and using that money to pay down debt. It could look like no more eating out for a while to save money for the car you need so you can pay for it in full with cash instead of taking out a loan. Radical change may even look like taking up a second job for a while, also known as “moonlighting” in order to put 20% down on your house instead of putting less down and paying PMI (private mortgage insurance). It may even consist of selling things that you don’t use or need in order to create the emergency fund your family desperately needs instead of relying on credit cards when times are hard. Or it may mean you can no longer treat your finances like a kid free in a candy shop, you create a budget each month, and stick to a plan for once. This may mean finally taking the leap to pay off the student loan debt you have with the money you have saved instead of treating your loan like a pet that will hang around for 20 years just because its “normal” or because everyone has “debt”. These are examples of things to think over to decide, “am I willing to step outside of my financial comfort zone for a better tomorrow?”
Are you willing to do what you’ve never done in order to get what you’ve never had?
These kinds of things, while hard and uncomfortable in the short term, are the things that will push you out of your comfort zone and into the next chapter when it comes to your finances. Radical change, more times than not, also creates a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift (as defined by Merriam-Webster) is “an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way”. Once you make radical changes and do something that isn’t comfortable, that ultimately becomes the new normal in your life, the thing that once made you uncomfortable, like not having cable, will eventually be something you’ve learned to live without while having extra cash in your pocket.
The definition of insanity (NOT defined by Merriam-Webster) is “to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result.” If your past habits aren’t working, don’t expect that magically one day it will give you a different result. If you are willing to do something you’ve never done, in order to get what you’ve never had, you may just surprise yourself. Hopefully this article has helped you realize all the possibilities you have to gain from stepping outside your personal comfort zone. New financial habits, a new norm, possibly financial independence, a new chapter in your life, the list of possibilities is endless. Maybe, just maybe, when you realize how much of life happens right outside your comfort zone, you’ll be more willing to venture outside into the great unknown to forgo something “good” (comfort zone) for something “great” (everything you have to gain).
About the Author- Carmen Perez is the creator of Make Real Cents-A blog (click here) dedicated to teaching you how to make real cents of your personal finances. She is a 20-something millennial on a mission to provide you with the “been there, done that” do’s and don’ts of personal finance.
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