I saw a deal on speakers, “Buy one Sonos speaker and get another for half price.” I’m not currently in the market for another speaker, so I let it go, but I did notice the fine print at the end of the article, “Terms and conditions subject to change.”
How often have we read that? Terms and conditions subject to change. I’ve read it so much that, like commercials during my favorite show, I tune it out.
But this time it made me think. “Would I be mad if the terms and conditions of this deal DID change? What would make a company change the terms or conditions of their offer?” This type of idle thought shouldn’t surprise you. But last week it kept bugging me. In fact, it was STILL bugging me an hour later when I opened an email from a podcast listener:
“I’m not sure where to turn,” it read, “I have over $35,000 in debt and a job that pays me $24,000 a year that I’m barely hanging on to. Between that and my two kids (I’m a single mom), it takes my whole day. I’m not sure how to get more money coming in, AND I’m not sure how to plan when I have nothing else I can really do.”
You may think I’m a horrible person, but I laughed out loud (a much rarer occurrence for me than I read online, with all the LOL’s there must be TONS of people cracking up while staring at their screens).
I thought, “Terms and conditions are subject to change.”
My A-Ha Moment With Debt
How many times have you been in what feels like a no-win situation and suddenly, out of nowhere, something changed?
A door opened where you least expected?
An opportunity presented itself where previously it had seemed like there wasn’t one.
You can call it karma, “The Secret,” Whatever you want. I just think that things change over time… especially if you work at them.
When I was in college, I had no money and thought there was no way I could do more. I was working two shitty jobs. No…they weren’t bad jobs… these were truly shitty jobs.
How about these: I was working as a telemarketer AND I was building radiation walls. Shitty, shitty jobs harassing people on the phone and carrying bricks. Ugly jobs.
That wasn’t all. On weekends, I disc jockeyed parties. So, three jobs overall, but two were shitty. The third had horrible hours and low pay, but I loved it.
Why did I have three jobs? I was trying to pay for school AND afford an apartment. I had nothing. My speakers were on their last leg, and I really needed to invest more money in my disc jockey business. Tuition for the next semester was coming up. My credit was horrible, so all I had was a horrible gas card at 21% interest, and it was permanently maxed out. I had nothing and was working non-stop to stay alive.
Then one of my speakers died during a party.
I was able to finish the dance with one speaker, but I knew the following week I was scheduled to play a bigger venue. With no options I was screwed. I couldn’t rent speakers because I had no free cash. Game over.
I didn’t count on the fact that terms and conditions were subject to change.
My “Terms and Conditions” Changed
On my way home from the gig, I listened to financial talk radio, mostly because I couldn’t stand listening to more music after four hours at 110 decibels. The host, a guy named Bruce Williams, was talking to a caller who had huge debt and no cash. Hell, he could have been talking directly to me. He said to the caller, “when do you work?”
The caller said, “I have a job from six AM until four, and then go to another from five to ten.”
Wow, I thought, that’s tough…. but I’d also done that myself. I felt their pain.
Bruce, though, wasn’t thrown. He said, “What are you doing between ten at night and six AM?”
The caller was shocked. “I’m sleeping!” she said.
“Sleeping?” Bruce asked. “Why are you sleeping when you’re telling me you can’t pay the bills?”
The caller was aghast. “I need my sleep!”
Bruce said, unwavering, “Well, then, I guess you don’t want out of debt.”
I thought about my situation. That caller was me. What the hell was I doing most nights that I didn’t DJ? Nothing. I was sleeping.
I needed to change the terms and the conditions.
Scouring the newspaper the next day, I found a guy who needed help with a paper route. I called, and the guy said, “I thought nobody was going to apply for this job. Can you start tomorrow morning at 4 AM?”
Absolutely, I could.
He paid me every day that he needed help, on the spot. By that weekend, I had enough money to rent a replacement speaker. Two weeks later I bought a new one. Within a month, I’d paid down that crappy gas card and cancelled it.
I’d changed the terms and conditions.
Certainly, I’m not perfect, and I’ve struggled with money. I’m frustrated when I see people who are independently wealthy who I think aren’t as big a hustler or as smart as me. Then I shake that off. I can’t do anything about their terms or conditions. I can only focus on mine.
What’s The Answer?
That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? How do you make your life change? I’m not a psychologist, and I’m not a career coach, but as a guy who worked with families to help them change for 16 years, here’s some starters.
- Realize life is hard. M Scott Peck nails this point home in the classic book The Road Less Traveled. Life is going to suck much of the time. Instead of moaning about how bad things are, focus on how you can improve.
- …and then write the problem down and focus on it. This piece on New Science covers a study done at the University of Amsterdam showing that your unconscious mind will help solve you problem even as you sleep.
- Realize, as Tony Robbins suggests in Awaken the Giant Within that “the past doesn’t equal the future.” You can change anything you want and aren’t as stuck as you think. In a dead end job with no pay increase in sight? Why not quit? Afraid you won’t get another job? Begin your search before quitting. There’s always an option.
- Let it go. Forgetting your strengths and focusing on the negative can have can have long-term consequences.
- Take action. Nothing helps you change from a victim to an empowered individual like movement. Exercise. Change. Make your bed.
So here’s the question….
Are you having problems with money? Is there a piece of your financial life that needs improvement? Are you going to make YOUR terms and conditions subject to change? I hope so. You’ll love it when you do.