Be Honest With Yourself About Your Financial Situation

A few months ago I wrote a post about a nearby restaurant that quibbled with us about the cost of a salad.  Long story short, they charged us more for a salad attached to the ‘Special of the Day’ menu versus the price that was listed as the attached price of an entree.  I felt that the specials were entrees but the restaurant felt otherwise.

As it turns out, maybe they quibbled because they needed every dollar that they could get, because the restaurant recently shut its doors.

On the note they put on the door, they listed a couple of factors, most notably citing road construction in the area as a primary reason that they could not manage to stay in business.

Now, there has been a lot of road construction in the area.  The main road that the restaurant fronts has been the focus of a major widening project that has been spread out over a few years.  They could only go so far, then had to wait for another government agency to widen a bridge.  When that finally happened, they were able to continue along, but they had to split that up over two additional years.

So, I get the road construction piece.

But, that doesn’t tell the entire story.

There are a couple of reasons that I think the restaurant owner had their head in the sand:

  • They knew about the construction when they opened – The restaurant opened right around the time that the project to widen the bridge was started.  They knew full well that the bridge construction was happening, and they knew that the road would be continued further following completion of the overpass.  Now, as far as I know, many businesses conduct feasibility studies and demographic studies, and also focus on environmental factors that could impact their business, and I would have to guess that road construction plans are factored in.  Either their consultants did a bad job or they didn’t bother, figuring they could get it handled along the way.
  • The construction finished – The last of the construction wrapped up a few months ago.  I always find it interesting when a business closes after construction completes.  I have no doubt that road construction impacts businesses, but I’ve seen more than a few examples of a business that will suffer through the construction, then when it wraps up and seemingly the business levels would return to normal, they call it a day.  I would expect to see businesses close during the construction, but there’s apparently a lag time that doesn’t make sense.
  • There were other reasons – When this was announced on Facebook via a local online news media source, many people immediately started commenting.  While a few agreed that road construction had to be killer, most people indicated that there were other reasons why the restaurant wasn’t frequented.  These included the fact that the restaurant was closed on Sundays, prime days to head out to the bar, grab a bite, and watch a game.  They were closed on holidays.  More than a few people said that they went on New Years Eve to go eat, and found a closed restaurant.  They never stepped up to the competition.  Another restaurant opened over the summer practically across the street.  They are similar enough that there had to be competition.  The new restaurant came in with a storm. They are all over Facebook.  They send out fliers.  They really get themselves out there.  The restaurant that closed never advertised, never did much in the way of social media, and never really built a word of mouth network.

Add this all together, and it tells me that the restaurant had a lot more problems, many of which were created by their own policies.  If other restaurants are open on Sundays and they can handle the crowds, maybe this isn’t such a great policy.  If other places offer specials and promote the heck out of themselves via social media, maybe you need to step up your game as well.

This was a really good place to go eat, but with all the policies and lack of real attempt to develop a following, they really gave the impression of wanting to have a restaurant, but didn’t maybe have the same level of interest in actually running the restaurant.  Big difference and I can see why it led to their closing.

Fooling ourselves

This speaks to me because I know that some of these same principles apply to how we see our personal financial situation.

How many times do people blame variables that they feel they can’t control for financial issues in their lives?

I’ve seen it countless times where people stay in a job that they’re unhappy with because they’re just happy to have a job.  When someone says that, I often just want to rip my hair out.  The fact is that you could be right, there might in fact be no other jobs and you have to stick it out with the one you have unless you want to take on a new career.  But, did you try?

The restaurant didn’t try.  When they had a competitor open up across the street, did they change anything?  Did they adjust their hours?  Did they follow the lead or try to carve out a new social media list?  No.  Instead, they did nothing, and with predictable results.

The fact is if you don’t like your job or you don’t like the way something is going, simply waiting around and expecting it to get better is not going to work.

The fear of the unknown

The problem is that many people simply don’t want to take the opportunity to jump in the water and see what else is out there.  Looking for a new career or going down a different financial path is scary, and people simply don’t like change.

So they’ll put up with something that clearly makes them happy.

The unhappiness paradox

What I’ve seen far too often is people who are unhappy stay in unhappy positions without making a change.  On the flip side, you  have people who seem perfectly happy in their career suddenly make a move.  Why?  Because being happy wasn’t enough. They wanted to be even happier.  They wanted an even bigger challenge.

This often leads to the unhappy person seeing this and getting even more unhappy.  Yet still they do nothing, when in fact they should be the ones pounding the pavement and at least seeing what else is out there for them.  As I sad, the answer might be nothing, but I think that’s far often not the case.

The simple truth is that there are variables that attempt to separate you (or the nearby restaurant) from fulfilling the maximum potential possible.  Don’t let that happen.  Take charge.  Who knows?  If the restaurant had made a few changes and taken a real, honest look in the mirror, they could still be in business.  And if you go and take an honest look and re-assess what really is in your control, you could find what you’re looking for.

What are you waiting for?

23 thoughts on “Be Honest With Yourself About Your Financial Situation”

  1. Wow! Great piece. It’s sad how often something will sound good from far away, but when the demands arrive, that “easy money” isn’t really there. Restaurants that aren’t open on days and times when people eat are doomed to fail. People who don’t look in the mirror and assess “what it’s going to take to succeed” are doomed to fail as well.

  2. It is quite a paradox isn’t it? If you are unhappy about a situation, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

    I cannot stand folks who complain at work. Why this is unfair, she got promoted etc. Either work harder, add more value, or find another job.

    Same can be said for the internet community. Want more traffic? Write more, connect more.


    • Very true! I almost quit my blog a few years back when people weren’t flocking to me. I finally realized that I needed to do more ‘flocking’ and it definitely helped open my eyes and see that it was all up to me!

  3. Some people just really fear change, no matter what. When I first started working for a large telephone company it was going through a major restructuring and people who had worked in the office for 15 to 20 years were being laid off. But they were being given a month’s pay for every year they had been there. To me that seemed like a dream come true. A chance to do something new, chase a dream, etc. To many of them it felt like the end of the world. They were in tears and so scared of change.

    • A months pay for every year, that’s unheard of these days at least in my neck of the woods. When I started with my company, people that got laid off were entitled to two weeks per every year, but that’s now been cut by 75%, so that you get a half week every year. This means that for my six years, I’d get a whopping three weeks of paid time. That would make me scramble a lot more than if it were the old way, which would be twelve weeks of pay, or even what you pointed out, which would be six whole months!

  4. Its amazing how much time and energy people waste on complaining when they could have used that time and energy to turn it around. I’m not going to lie. Ill complain here and there but I am a doer and take initiatve.

    • I think that everybody is entitled to whine and moan a little here and there, just so long as it’s not your everyday outlook on life.

      • Sometimes it takes a long time to put something in action because you are in a relationship. In 2010, I tried forcing my husband to agree to a budget. That still has not happened yet, but he did agree to document every single expense for 2013.

        In 2014, I can look forward to having a budget for the very first time!

  5. It all goes back to taking ownership of your decisions. I could read your thoughts on this vein all day!

  6. I could not agree more! Great words of wisdom! It is definitely about taking ownership and making decisions. It’s not always easy, but it may be worth it. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I will offer up a brief story about a friend and myself. Neither of us were particularly happy about our past situations. I kept pushing forward, trying to better myself, and make inroads into the next steps of the career ladder. I fell on my face a lot. I put up with a lot of bad environments and bad people. But I pushed forward.

    My friend ridiculed me and said said that everything I did was a waste because life isn’t fair. When he wasn’t criticism me, he was complaining about his job and how much he didn’t like it. And how it wasn’t fair. But he had no interest in taking any steps to improve his situation.

    Now I have a job that I enjoy and that pays well. My friend is still exactly where he was years ago… complaining and unhappy.

    The moral: If you don’t like where you are, start working to fix things. Just because you can’t fix everything at once, doesn’t mean you can’t win big over time.

    • You succeeded in finding something better. Even if you necessarily hadn’t, you’d be further ahead for having tried. Good story, thanks for sharing!

  8. Wow, this kind of goes right along with where I am right now. I could have stayed the same and been really, really unhappy in ten years, or change now. I’m glad I changed now. There are always obstacles. It depends on how you view those, either as a challenge or a roadblock, as to how successful you will ultimately be.

  9. Some people wallow and wail about their problems. I was one of them. Now I am trying to out think, out work or just leave a problem person, place or thing if I can do nothing about it.

    • Glad that you took a look in the mirror and realized you needed some changes in your outlook. Good for you!

  10. It’s always easier to shift the blame. It’s difficult to analyze ourselves and see where we went wrong. I was stuck in a job I didn’t like for a long time because the pay was good. There aren’t many job in my field locally and I’d have to move to find a new job. At least I’m out now and I’m much happier.

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