Poor Decision Making - the demon inside us

Our ability to engage in poor decision making appears to have no boundaries. It's truly amazing to me. Whether it's over-spending, over-eating, settling for a low-paying job, settling for an underachiever as a mate, taking undue risks, or simply not caring enough to establish meaningful goals for our life, we are most often our own worst enemy.

If we're going to be successful and happy, we need to learn how to defeat those negative "demons" by becoming a positive one ourselves. More on that, but first, let's look at some real examples of individuals who have exhibited what I consider to be some form of insanity by simply ignoring themselves and letting their demons get the best of them.

The point here isn't to find fault, but to examine, at least on the surface, three examples of how others operate so we know what poor decision making looks like, and we're well aware of the consequences of such unwise behavior. I'm hoping if we know what it looks like, we might be better able to recognize it when we start heading in that direction. That will help us take steps to avoid it.

  1. A friend of mine has been unemployed for seven months, lives with a friend of hers, earns a modest residual income, finally has a good paying but temporary job, and now finds herself needing a car - an unanticipated expense. She called me to get some advice about buying a car, and we discussed the options she was considering. In the end, she settled on buying a good used car with respectable fuel economy, and decided to put the value of her current car towards the purchase of a used car from a private party.

    I thought it was a good decision, but what troubled me was the fact that she was considering buying a new car - at more than twice the price of a used one, and complete with car payments - so she could get a vehicle that was rated among some of the highest with respect to fuel economy. In my mind, that's poor decision making.

    I suggest this simply because the person is without their own home, has a very temporary job, took way too long to find employment after being laid off, and only has a modest income in the absence of full-time employment. Why in the world would anyone in this position ever consider "making payments" for anything when their current income is tenuous at best?

  2. The wife of one of my friends is a spendaholic. She attempts to buy happiness at every opportunity, especially if her husband has any money available to support her affliction. She is clearly a human "tar baby" that will need to be dumped if he is to have any hope of regaining a grip on his personal finances and living a life with peace of mind.

    One day the washing machine goes out, and he asks her to go to the appliance store and buy a basic washing machine - something in the $300 to $400 dollar range. Just the basic three temperature, four cycle washer in white - nothing fancy, exotic or expensive. He would have done so, but as you can imagine, he has to go to work to earn money to keep their flimsy financial life afloat.

    It seems simple enough, right? Wrong! When the truck from the appliance store arrives, she tells him, "Well, I might as well tell you, while I was at the appliance store, I bought us a new large screen television." Of course, she offers some lame excuse for her poor decision making, as usual. His immediate response is to go outside and direct the delivery personnel, "The television stays on the truck."

    There is no question that his wife is the queen of poor decision making. They lost their business interests, they're basically broke, they're on the cusp of being evicted from their rented home, they're in the process of placing much of their stuff in storage as they're about to go live in a manner very similar to that of the homeless, and she is off buying a new large television so she won't have to spend her time as one of the unemployed without a source of entertainment.

    The insanity of this is really quite unbelievable. They already have at least two working television sets, and she thinks they need another one? Go figure.

  3. Lastly, there is a friend of mine who has a rich background in drug abuse, jail time, lost relationships, family rejection, financial ruin, lost housing and a past that keeps catching up with her. I only recently learned about her background of personal "train wrecks."

    Fortunately, it appears as though she is finally on the right course with a job, a husband, a nice house and a promising future. My rhetorical question to her was, "And, you were involved in all of these personal, legal and financial train wrecks, and you didn't have a clue as to what was causing them?"

    Of course, she knew all along that her poor decision making was the root of her troubles. She realized that it was her making decisions to engage in self-defeating behavior that planted the seeds of potential destruction, and all of that decision making was entirely within her control.

As I said to begin with, it's truly amazing that poor decision making seems to have no boundaries. It affects most of us and is a great source of grief, anguish and frustration in our lives - nearly all of it is self generated. Much of the turmoil in our lives can be avoided if we just take the long view and establish reasonable goals as an important part of our our life plan.

When I look at these and other examples, it's clear that there is no end to the amount of self-destructive behavior that people engage in. If we all directed just a little more effort toward setting goals and engaging in a pattern of constructive behavior, we'd be so much farther ahead in our lives.

And, when we work smart, hard and deliberately, we get ahead, and that allows us more time to relax and enjoy what it is we have created. Otherwise, we end up spending an inordinate amount of time trying to undo all the crap that we've gotten ourselves tangled up in.

One of the great success factors in life is to avoid poor decision making, and the key to that is to have proper life goals, and become "on fire" as a positive demon set to achieve those goals instead of allowing your own internal negative demons to persuade you to engage in self defeating behavior.

Done with Poor Decision Making, take me back to Frugality

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.