Way too often, we talk ourselves into the living with limits — limits that are self-created and unnecessarily perpetuated. A recent conversation with a couple I’ve known for a very long time brought this to mind.
Intellectually gifted, their son applied to and was accepted into a prestigious private high school — the school of his dreams and one of his parents said they wanted him to be able to attend. BUT, they said, "We just can’t come up with the additional money required to cover our portion of fees and tuition."
They needed an additional $4000.00 for the first year. I asked, "Could you cut expenses by $400.00 per month? If you can find the money in your monthly budget, consider asking the school if a monthly payment arrangement would be acceptable. That way, you don’t have to come up with it all at once."
Immediately, they said, "Oh, no. We can’t find that kind of money in our budget. I guess he just won’t be able to go to that school, after all. It’s a shame. He’s worked so hard and deserves to have all the opportunities that will come his way because he went to this wonderful school. But, I don’t see a way to pull the money together."
Given that they initiated the conversation with me, I felt free to pushed a bit, offering some practical suggestions. I made several suggestions to the mother. She could do her own nails — manicure and pedicure — estimating that would net about $100 per month. She could also do her hair herself instead of going to the hairdresser twice monthly. The savings there could be as much as $125. Those ideas alone could put the family a little more than half way towards the $400 needed.
Turning to the father, I suggested he give up his basketball season ticket package and opt to attend a game or two instead of ten. That change could add an average of over $100 per month to the coffers.
Add in fewer meals out and they would have more than the money required to fund a great educational opportunity for their talented son.
Each of the suggested changes could seem like a sacrifice — like giving up something. In fact, if the family follows-through with this plan, they will give up some things they’re accustomed to enjoying. But, in this case, they give them up for something they want more. In this way the give is not a sacrifice — but a change, a reprioritization of how resources are used. This family, like so many of us, stuck and unable to see clearly, needed help finding a way to move beyond the boundary limited thinking defined.
While I talked with the family about money, to be clear, I’m not a financial advisor. I’m simply a person who is interested in helping people find a way to move beyond the, “No. I can’t,” they have at the ready and get to, “Yes, I can!”
To which worthy dreams and goals have you said, "No, I can't?" Are you willing to change your mind, broaden your perspective, and if necessary, make a short-term “sacrifice” in order to create conditions that make, “Yes, I can” a real possibility when it comes to what’s truly important to you?
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