I’m not a natural at having patience in much of anything in my life. Back in High School, I didn’t want to be patient and learn my algebra. I certainly didn’t want to be patient enough to read an entire book all the way through. My lack of patience in school left me barely graduating high school with a cumulative GPA of under 2.0 (which is below a “C” average). I looked back just before and just after that time of transition from childhood into adulthood and reflected quite a bit. It dawned on me that patience was something I needed to work on. I was learning the important lesson that patience is a big part of success. I hadn’t had patience in school and therefore, I didn’t succeed.
I buckled down a lot throughout the next five years while I went to college. I also turned my brain back on for the first time since grade school. I’m living proof that you can still make it in this world without learning much of anything in high school. I had picked up the basics while in elementary school, lost a bunch of years not caring about school and then in college, I saved myself from a future of poverty by using my brain again.
I learned a ton in college and it was all because I was patient. It took five years to get caught up and then get my degree. It wouldn’t have happened with an “I can’t sit down and learn this because I don’t want to” attitude. I just sat down and did it.
I Blew Every Dollar I Ever Had Until My Mid Twenties
I never had patience in my financial life until a few years ago. Ever since I made my first $20 mowing lawns for the neighbors growing up, I had trouble holding onto money. I just liked stuff too much. I watched my grandpa buy a brand new John Deer tractor lawn mower with power steering, a 54 inch deck, hydraulics and a 20 horsepower V-Twin engine. That thing was rocking! I was mowing with a 1979 rear engine Snapper mower with a pull start. My friends were riding around on the latest GT mountain bikes while I was riding a used Huffy with crooked wheels. My friends parents were driving brand new Chevy pickups (which me and my friends all raved about), while my parents drove used cars. I never got the nice stuff growing up. So I took my hard earned cash and I was out on a mission to buy me some nice stuff.
And I did. Because of my lack of patience, I rarely saved for large purchases, but rather spent a little at a time. Between the ages of 13 (when I first started earning money) and 20, I spent everything I made. Here’s an idea of where all my money went:
- A new Giant mountain bike
- A new Snapper tractor lawn mower
- All kinds of accessories and gadgets for my bike
- A top of the line laptop computer
- Two sets of aftermarket wheels for two cars
- Two remotes starters for two cars
- Professionally tinted windows
- Two sets of fancy tires
- Three aftermarket CD players for my car
- A high powered car amplifier, two 12 inch subwoofers and a box for them
- Component speakers for inside my car
- Meals out, fancy clothes, road trips and vacations
Yep, I had no patience for saving for my future. I just wanted to have fun in the moment. And bam, I ended up with nothing to show for all my hard work after it was all said and done.
Finally, I Learned How to Be Patient with Money
Fast forward to shortly after my 26th birthday. The year is 2010. I had just gone through two very expensive years while making the salary of someone just starting out in life. I was getting nowhere fast. I also hadn’t completely kicked my spending habits. I had just bought a fancy vacation and a year earlier, a top of the line computer and an HDTV. But after recently learning about Dave Ramsey and his story, strategy and extremely motivated following, I got mad and fired up at the same time. I decided to change my life.
And the patience started in. I was patient for 9 months after that point as I paid down everything I made on my debt and got out for good. Next, I was patient for 5 months after that as I piled up my goal of a 6 month emergency fund. After that is when the hardest tests of my patience started happening.
It’s been a year and a half now since I topped off my emergency fund. Where do I go from here is a question that I keep asking myself. If it’s toward saving for a house, patience will need to come into play and stay there. If my next move is to pile up a bunch of money to invest for the distant future, I’ll need a ton of patience for that too. It’s very hard to put off a vacation to New York City or southern California to save for the future when I don’t know when I’ll get to appreciate that saving.
It’s hard and it’s sad at times saying no to the spending today. I could have such nice things, but instead I’m trying to stay patient. I believe that the more patient I am today, the more blessed and grateful I will be in the future.