Escaping the Money Trap, Part 1
I broke free from the money trap. The money trap is whatever trap you find yourself in—debt, immense wealth, IRS trouble or a willful ignorance about money—that prevents you from a life of freedom and ease. Debt was my money trap. It ensnared me for most of my married life: school debt, cars, credit cards, all on top of a multi-year battle with the IRS. But I finally found freedom.
Now freedom doesn’t mean that I do not need money, nor desire to furnish my home or to travel first class to Europe. However, I learned to find peace in the moment and that what I have is enough. This is the financial freedom I thought only came when I had a certain amount of money in the bank—an amount I would never obtain.
Many years ago, I wrote a series of blogs discussing how to break free from the money trap. As I reflect on my own journey since I wrote those blogs, I recognize that not asking for help when I needed it and keeping money conversations secret held me captive.
To break free, I began by examining my story about money. In the 7 laws of enough, we write that stories matter. Our money story can have an outsized “influence on our behavior and the narrative of our life.” My story came from two places: what was passed down to me and the story of money in this country. Growing up in my family, I saw that no matter how much money we had, how big our houses or how fancy our cars, we never ever had enough. In the US, our money stories are to be kept secret. If we are wealthy, we don’t want others to know because they might ask us for some of our money. If we come from a lower-income family, we keep it a secret so we can pretend like we belong to the middle class. Upon examination, I realized that these stories are not my stories.
Uncovering the truth about my story let me see the destructive power of debt. With this new clarity, I needed to create a different story, one that would define how I wanted to interact with money. I declared I wanted a debt-free life, but just declaring it wouldn’t make it so.
In the 7 laws of enough, we go on to discuss how a story is embodied, that “because we are creatures of habit and pattern we begin to relate to life from that habituated set of responses.” To make my new story come true, I needed to practice habits that would free me from the chains of debt. In Part II of this post, I will share the practices that helped me reach my goal.
Start the process of breaking free from the money trap. Examine your story.