Do we need to wait until there’s a problem?

*Article by Financial Coach Rebecca Pritchard


I enjoy a glass of wine. Sometimes, I enjoy many glasses of wine. But in general I’m not a big drinker. Drinking for me is linked to social situations, and if for a couple of months I find myself at brunches rather than dinners, it might be a long time between drinks.

So it might seem odd that this year I decided to try Febfast. Why did I want to do it?

I was curious about my ability to set an intention and stick to it, and to find out if a month without a single glass of pinot would be super easy, or really challenging.

In the lead up, I alternated between thinking this was a brilliant idea to explore my discipline, with thinking it was a bizarre idea for someone who’s not a regular drinker. Giving up cheese or carbs might have been more appropriate for me!

People were curious about my plan. It reminded me of when, many years ago, I decided to detox sugar out of my life (and join the church of I Quit Sugar guru Sarah Wilson). I didn’t need to lose weight. My diet was definitely on the healthy side of average. So, people kept asking me, “Why go further?”

If I was a binge-drinker, or someone who enjoyed a glass of wine each night at home by myself, I feel it would have been easier to articulate why I wanted to do this, and to gain the social support.

But my answer was — and still is — “Do we need to wait until there’s a problem to take control?”

Comfort zones can be dangerous

I believe that being comfortable puts us at risk. And there are a lot of parallels to being able to control our wine or sugar consumption, and our ability to effectively manage our money.

If we clear our credit card balance each month without incurring interest, we think we’ve got it together. But the fact we rely on the card in the first place could mean we don’t have control.

If we’re sitting on a big pile of cash from years of saving, that might be excellent. But we might also be getting really complacent, and be saving at the same rate we did three years ago, before we got several pay-rises.

I often speak with people who are interested in the concept of financial freedom. Of course they’re interested, it sounds fabulous. Who doesn’t want to feel like they have options? But when it comes down to making changes, they’re too comfortable right now to do it. They don’t want to take that extra step. The idea of a ‘problem in the future’ isn’t enough to make them move today.

Comfort zones can cost, too

Financially, I’ve run the numbers and done the math. Small inefficiencies and lost opportunities add up, and compound. The financially, physically and mentally fit of the future will be those who are prepared to get uncomfortable today. They’re happy to push past their comfort zone, and challenge themselves and their assumptions.

Whether it’s wine, sugar, or our finances, let’s not wait until there’s a problem, let’s be proactive. Let’s explore, experiment, learn and grow. Let’s make mistakes and explore all over again.