Look at the Big Picture

I’m writing this post from an airplane, flying from Seattle to Chicago. I’ve got a great window seat, and looking down at the earth below, I see mountains and valleys, lakes and little patches of snow. There are mazes of roads, winding around the mountains.

I imagine what it would be like to travel those roads. What would I see? At times, I might pass by a lake and see the beautiful blue water. Then I might pass through a narrow valley, seeing mountains with big green trees towering on both sides of me. Rarely, I might catch a glimpse of a snow capped mountaintop. But chances are, I would only see one thing at a time.

So it is, often with finances. We see the glittering lake, beckoning us with the promise of a good time. It might be a shiny new computer. It might be an expensive vacation. It could be anything, begging you to throw caution to the wind, take the plunge, and swim a while.

The problem is, you don’t see the valley ahead. A job loss. An illness. A major home repair. You don’t see the mountain you’ll need to climb to get out of the debt. A mountain so high that it’s topped with snow in mid-July. A mountain of debt so high, that your lifestyle will be frozen year round, while you attempt to pay it off.

It’s better if we look at our finances as if we were in an airplane, where we can see the big picture. I know very few people who live life at the shiny, glittery lake forever. Most people go through financial good times and financial hard times.

Before you start spending money freely in the good times, make sure to be prepared for the hard times that will inevitably come your way. Prepared with good health, fitness, and the appropriate climbing gear, a seasoned climber can face the mountain with a sense of exhilaration.

In the same way, properly armed with a good budget and emergency fund, you can face the financial mountains in your life, knowing that you can handle the challenges. And on the other side of that mountain might be a lake. But this lake is bigger and bluer than the first lake you saw. This lake is the reward you get for managing your money wisely. You are here, because you conquered the mountain with wisdom and discipline. So enjoy it!

Photo by Tatters:).


By , on Jul 30, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. I know you are are trying to make a personal finance point, but the flying versus driving aspect is something my wife and I were just talking about. I have flown all over the country, but wonder what I missed by not being on the ground– we have been talking roadtrips lately . . .

  2. bob:

    When I think of new, shiny things, all I do is think about what its like when I do get something new. For example I had the same old, beat up cell phone for 6 years until it finally bit the dust. I got a new phone (free with 2 year contract) a few months ago. It is light years ahead of my old phone, has a camera, a keyboard, and lots of other stuff that most people have had for years. But to me it was fabulous and I was really stoked about using it… for about a week. Then it became just like the other phone and just another appliance. Its like that with everything. I work in Silicon Valley and there are many, many rich people driving very pricey cars. But they seem to almost always have a brand-new whatever car happens to be the latest model. In other words, they seem to grow tired of their cars quicker than those of us who drive boring Camrys and Accords.

    So I always imagine that no matter how cool or nice something is, I’ll grow tired of it just the same and saving money is ultimately a longer term better feeling.

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