Dessert Before Dinner? Why America Sucks At Managing Money

Photo Credit: Memory_Freak

Have you ever wondered why America sucks at managing money?

We’re not exactly a country that’s living off of table scraps ya know. We’re considered by most to be a prosperous nation. That may be true in terms of what we have compared to other countries, but certainly not true in terms of how we manage it. When it comes to the money and financial planning department, most Americans appear to be lacking!

In America debt is a WAY OF LIFE!

From the Joneses to [insert name of Government Bureaucrat here], America has lost its way. People look to the government to supplement their bad decisions more now than ever before. What ever happened to personal responsibility and grandma’s way of managing money?

America is like an out-of-control college frat party, with most of the party goers ignoring the very real consequences to come. “Who cares about my test tomorrow, I deserve to party and have fun today…wooohooo!” Any student who has skipped a night of studying to hit the latest party probably has a bad test paper to show for it.

This country is in denial about their financial woes.

Americans have forsaken self-discipline. If you are neck deep in debt, have no emergency savings, and are relying on social security, isn’t that what you have done? Brian Tracy points out the correlation between people who look further into the future, and those same people who become successful because of it. Basically, poor people live for today, while rich people live for retirement.

Don’t give me the “poor people can’t” argument either. Poor is a state of mind based on ones attitude not based on ones abilities. Don’t believe me? You must not have heard of Osceola McCarty. Now that’s a lady that believed in discipline and obviously thought that planning for her future was her responsibility.

I look up to and admire Osceola McCarty! Forget about those brainless losers on Jersey Shore.

What has happened in America to cause this?

Last week I was listening to an audio book by one of my favorite authors (mentioned above) Brian Tracy, and something he said jumped out at me. He was talking about self-discipline and how it was the key to creating the life that you want. He used the analogy “dinner before dessert” to make his point. That is a remarkable analogy!!

My mother use to always say, “You have to have dinner before dessert. No dinner, no dessert!” It was crystal clear to me at the time…umm…when it came to food that is. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll admit, it didn’t carry over to well into my adult life. but that’s because I was missing the bigger picture. I never once thought of the underlying principle those words were supposed to teach me. Apparently, neither has the rest of America. Luckily, I am no longer that pimple-faced teen that fails to consider the impact of my decisions before making them. Sure I mess up from time to time, but who doesn’t? My future now matters more to me than today does, and I believe that transformation was key to turning things around.

When we were growing up, our parents tried to prepare us for adulthood. Nowadays, the government has replaced the need for strong financial principles by essentially saying, “Go ahead and have your dessert now, we’ll provide dinner for you later, no worries.” I completely REJECT that self-limiting mindset. I don’t want what the government claims it can give me, I can do it better myself, and so can you!

Now I realize some would disagree with that statement, but if it is so wrong, then why does social security exist in the first place, and why does it seem like Americans are expecting more for the Government than ever before?

What’s on your plate?

Now those are just some examples based on how I see basic financial priorities. I’m 400% positive that you could add any number of things to either side. It’s just a starting point for those that need the visual.

It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little dessert before you’ve taken care of everything on the dinner side. Some of those things take a little time to complete, but you should still have a plan in place to know where you are headed. It’s about balancing your priorities more than anything else.

If you have a good emergency fund and want to take a vacation, take a vacation. The point of this is to take care of what’s important first, and then having a little fun in moderation, but not without taking into consideration how it will affect your financial plan. If going on vacation means having to use money from your emergency fund, then perhaps it’s a good idea to wait a little bit longer, so you can save up some money.

If America continues to eat dessert before dinner, I’m afraid for what our future America will look like. Don’t rely on the Government for any certain standard of life. Instead, make the hard financial decisions now, because that will be your safest route to the life you want. If you are counting on social security to help you retire, I’m certain you’ll be disappointed.

You have the power to make things happen. Believe in yourself before you trust in an incompetent government. YOU have what it takes!

Listen to your parents and grandparents, and apply their advice to all aspects of life.You’d be surprised at how the simple lessons of your youth can be applied to multiple areas of your life now.

Remember: Dinner before dessert!

We’ve all been guilty of putting pleasure before priorities. Do you have a story to share about how doing so caused you trouble in life?

About Brad Chaffee

15 Responses to “Dessert Before Dinner? Why America Sucks At Managing Money”

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  1. Rob Bennett says:

    The tricky part is CHANGING this situation.

    I think we need to encourage people to save to achieve goals other than an old-age retirement. That particular saving goal inspires few.

    People can get very excited about saving when they learn that it can be used to finance an early retirement or a start-up business or the ability to stay home with the kids when they are young.

    People tune our sermons. They get pulled in when you show them ways to realize their most intense personal desires.

    Rob

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I agree with you Rob, it is definitely a lofty goal to turn things around. While I agree with your basic premise, about needing to teach people how to save for short term goals before thinking about saving for retirement, the point of this post was to show that people who think further ahead are much more likely to achieve their goals than those who just look at the short term. People should be concerned enough with what their retirement will look like instead of finding out when it arrives that they needed more. Furthermore, the transformation that is needed more than anything doesn’t have to do with savings as much as it has to do with spending. (At least in my opinion.)

      In my experience for instance, it was gaining control of my financial spending behaviors that enabled us to plan for the future which included saving and paying off our debt.

      Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you for the most part. I just think that although it may seem impossible at the moment, we need to get people thinking as far into the future as we can. Think of it like this. When playing a game of chess, it’s the players that think the most moves in advance that usually are victorious. They see the bigger picture and can adjust their plan accordingly. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for the great comment! ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. This is a great post, but people will only change if they want to. I think there’s a small and growing movement to get rid of debt and be smarter about money, but it isn’t enough when people are still enamoured with things.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I definitely agree with you on that. You can lead a horse to water but you can\’t make it drink. The key is to motivate them into realizing that a change could be more beneficial for them than the status quo. That\’s the hard part. LOL

  3. Debt Solution says:

    America is so great because we have the ability to get so much stuff and we have the right to BUY NOW AND PAY LATER! But this is a destructive lifestyle that will lead to financial ruin.

    We are constantly marketed to on a daily basis. I read that the average person subconsciously and consciously sees over 2,000 advertisements per day. Radio ads, TV Commercials, billboards, newsprint, magazine, your milk jug, mashed potatoes box, soda cans, books from the book store, coffee cups, company pens, calendars, etc., etc.

    From all the information overloading of marketing we become “Consumption Machines” we want any and everything. We have Big Time URGES for stuff and we really don’t understand why we want it. Most of the time when we get it we disregard it and start thinking about the next thing.

    These URGES will never go away they will always be inside of us. We have to learn to control them by off-setting our thoughts with our ultimate goals in life.

    Oh Yeah! I have some good news…the same way the marketers enter our space with all of their marketing we can use that same technique in our favor.

    Write down what you want to achieve financially and personally. Read it daily and say it to yourself at least 10 times a day. When you have the URGE to spend money ask yourself does this spending fits my personal and financial goals if it doesn’t you already have your answer. (emergency, necessities, entertainment within reason is excluded)

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I think America is great because anyone has the freedom to be anything. The only problem with that is the fact that people use debt to achieve it rather than a good financial plan. It\’s really quite incredible when you think about it. You\’re right about the marketing machine buzzing around in our heads to try and make us believe we need this and that. What we need is financial security, not some new toy or device that eventually loses its appeal. Great comment sir! Thanks!

  4. I love the graphic but really don’t want the Starbucks in the dessert category!

  5. Great post and great analogy! One thing I would add is that we have found ways to convert “dinner” into dessert in many ways (5,000 sq. ft. home for 2 adults & 1 child for example)!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Isn\’t that the truth! Dave Ramsey talks about how we are living like and having today, what it took our great grandparents and grandparents a lifetime to achieve. That\’s an interesting perspective. We need to slow this train down a little. ๐Ÿ™‚

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