I recounted in another posting a friend of mine who told me I needed to "cut out the waste" in my business, but as I explained to him, there was no pie-shaped wedge in Quickbooks labeled "waste". He had similar opinions about the Federal Government - that a quick click on "delete waste" was all that was needed. Not surprisingly, he was a tax protester and got into trouble with the tax authorities.
Hard - but not impossible.
Financial discipline also means saying "no" a lot, to come-on offers, credit card offers, and things that seem "too good to be true!" You will be pummeled by credit card offers in the mail and online. If you take each one of these offers, you will end up with a wallet of credit cards and a world of woe. Similarly, pitches for online "ebates" or whatever are not going to "make you money" as you cannot spend your way to wealth.
It is tempting to think that maybe that 1% or 3% you are getting back on your gas or food charges will make the difference in your life. But if it means paying 15% interest - or even 7% - then you are coming out behind.
It takes a lot of courage - discipline - to say, "thanks but no thanks" to the carnival of spending offers that is shot at you like from a firehose on a daily basis. And one way to achieve this discipline is to watch less media. The media presents poor normative cues all the time, pitching such ideas as "rewards cards" and serial refinancing, and even payday loans and check cashing stores. And let's not forget ideas like using restaurants as a kitchen, or "you're too tired to cook, order a pizza!"
The real discipline is to believe in yourself and those inner voices that say, "this is all a carnival of shill and scam artists out to get at my pocketbook!" It takes courage to go against the flow, against what most of society does and practices.
It takes discipline. And it isn't easy, it is very hard, and it never, ever ends until you are dead.
A reader writes: Regarding discipline, I've heard "You can't manage what you don't measure."
That sort of sums it up in one sentence. Once you track spending - every damn penny of it - you realize how much you are spending on certain things and know "where all the money is going" and where you can cut back.