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A Simple Insanity Test

October 25, 2016

You’re given a bucket and told to empty a pond. How do you respond? Your response shows whether you are insane or not.

I was listening to the banter between the radio DJ and the caller. While it was a country music station, the subject was money. 

So tell me, Carl, are you a financial expert?

No. I just know how to spend money. Ha ha

Because, I’m trying to decide. I have some credit cards with really high interest rates. I’m wondering if I should take my savings and pay them off?

The caller wanted nothing to do with handing out financial advice to the DJ. As I listened, I thought about that insanity test. The answer to the DJ really depended on whether or not he was insane. 

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”

– Educator Jessie Potter 

I thought a lot about the debt question. There was a time where I was $80,000 in debt. I’d just lost my job. My house was being foreclosed on. And I had 12 kids at home. It forced me to take a hard look at myself and decide what was really important to me. I watched my hungry children not ask for seconds because they knew there wasn’t more. Winter was coming and I had nothing to heat the house with. I stared into the abyss and it was terrifying. 

I didn’t file bankruptcy, but just barely. With some help from my extended family and a lot of hard work I clawed my way back. I paid off my debt. I paid off my cars. I eventually was able to buy a house again. We restocked our pantry. And like the child that burned his hand, I had finally learned not to touch the stove.  I cut up the credit cards, the few that weren’t canceled. And vowed to never put my family in that situation again. 

So, what made the difference? What had convinced me to finally change my spending habits? I quit being insane. I quit doing what I’d always done because I no longer wanted to get what I’d always gotten. It was hard, but along the way, I learned a few things. I learned I can do hard things. I also learned this important definition of interest,

Those who don’t understand interest pay it. Those who do, earn it. 

Should the DJ use his savings to pay off his high interest credit cards? It depends. Is he insane? 

The test with the bucket and the pond goes like this.

If you take the bucket and attempt to start bailing out the pond, you are insane. If you first divert the stream feeding the pond, you are sane.

If you are insane about debt, no matter how many much money you have, no matter how often you pay down the balance, no matter how much you say you hate the high interest rates, you will continue to paying that interest. Because you are insane.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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