Smiling Amid Screams: the Case for Being Cool, Calm, and Collected for a Happier and Debt-Free Life

Financial Freedom

Due to the epiphany that I had last week while at a McDonald’s drive-thru, let’s examine how our kids contribute to unnecessary debt. I say unnecessary because I am not talking about the debt incurred while meeting their needs such as food, clothing or shelter. Rather, the kind acquired for those trivial things; those little luxuries that seem to creep up with greater frequency than any of us would care to admit.

In my case, it showed up as the choice between two ice cream flavors. As we inched through that snake of a line, I mentally patted myself on the back, thinking, oh what a good mother am I. Here I was about to order that tasty little treat that I had exact change for; seventy-five cents to be precise. What could go wrong? Apparently, the call of chocolate so what happened next was painful. A full-throttle melt-down the size of special-order jeans.

I had to make one of two choices (so I thought): get the unwanted vanilla (that I could afford) or go ‘dipped’ (and tap into my credit card for a ridiculous $1.09) in exchange for peace. What do you think I did? Yes, I did what many of you probably would. I took a deep, defeated breath, and cringed as I handed over my credit card. Once again, MasterCard saved the day.

Though I did lose that battle, I did not lose the war. Thankfully, I realized one thing. It was my emotional baggage – and not simply wanting to appease my daughter – that made me do it. In those split seconds, I unconsciously made it about me. As a result, I felt embarrassed, judged, and cheap. Pleasing her, then, was only the surface reason. The real one traced all the way back to my poverty-conscious childhood; where I would not have dared ask for that chocolate cone in the first place. Being raised in a household of ‘lack’ will do that to you. It makes you be more likely to overcompensate as an adult through an inability to say no. The choice to incur debt seems far less painful than the anesthesizing pleasure experienced while satisfying the need to prove that you are not like your depriving parents, caretakers, and so forth.

The key to ending this vicious cycle is to build up ones mental muscles. This can be done through self-empowering books, (YouTube) videos, individual or group therapy, meditation, the company of uplifting friends. There is no wrong way. Whatever best speaks to your personality will make you stronger. Crucial to having clear, emotionally detached thinking that is in alignment with your better judgment, this will allow you to walk away from the tyranny of self-judgment – and be one step closer to financial freedom. It is not easy but it is well worth the effort.

For starters, you will reduce or eliminate those feelings of powerless that go along with hypnotic capitulation. In saying no to your child when you don’t have the cash, you will smile amidst their screams because you know that your choices are creating the long-term happiness they will later thank you for. In the end, they won’t care whether they had the most expensive sneakers or latest gadgets. They will much rather have had you ‘there,’ fully and completely – as the best version of yourself.

Massiel Blanco (Guest Blogger)

Massiel Blanco (Guest Blogger)

I am a former law student and mother of a beautiful four year old girl. I studied Political Science and French at DePaul University and now live with my family in the Chicagoland area.
Massiel Blanco (Guest Blogger)

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