In the hit TV series, The X-Files, FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigate the marginalized, unsolved government cases usually involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder played the role of the “believer”, having faith in the existence of aliens and the paranormal, while Scully was the skeptical scientist/medical doctor, initially assigned by her departmental superiors to debunk Mulder’s unconventional work. As the show progressed, Scully seemed to become more and more of a believer, or at least one who was curious as to what was going on with all these crazy events.
I watched the X-Files with my wife every Friday evening, then on Sunday evenings when it moved to a new time slot and we rarely missed an episode. Lately, after thinking about the show, I realized that a lot of its central themes are similar to how we work with and use our money.
The Truth Is Out There.
The show implied that there was a larger government conspiracy to hide information from the public and that Mulder and Scully were pawns in the game. If only Mulder could get ALL the information, he could break everything wide open.
Ever wonder how a few trips to the grocery store, a gift for your cousin’s wedding, one or two nights eating out, a tank of gas, and a haircut could possibly cost $850? The truth IS NOT “out there somewhere,” it’s in your pocket with all those receipts you collect all week and then throw away after stashing them in your dresser drawer for 4 months.
The truth is, you need a budget. You need to monitor where you money goes and even more importantly WHY you’re spending it so frivolously.
Take an afternoon and simply LOOK where your money is going. Gather a week or two worth of receipts and break down your spending into some sensible categories. Don’t set limits just yet, just notate the information. After a couple of weeks, or even a month, begin the budgeting process. Start with your gross pay and then list your payroll deductions. Set aside the proper amount of money for your personal priorities (charity, savings, etc) and also set aside some money for personal entertainment and fun. Allocate money toward your debts and monthly living expenses and see where you end up. Always be willing to tweak your budget and know where your money goes. The TRUTH is in your checkbook register.
Trust No One.
As the show matured, it began more and more to center around “the cigarette man,” a chain smoking, shadow government conspirator who saw that Mulder’s work could possibly endanger his devious plans, whatever they were. The implication was that there was a network of people who were seeking to hide something sinister from the eyes of the X-Files investigators.
In our real lives, and especially when it comes to our money and our identities, we shouldn’t trust anyone, or at least only those who we KNOW have good intentions. Trust usually isn’t a true black and white issue, but a matter of degrees. How much trust you show in someone, in a website, or in a certain situation is dependent on your level of confidence from previous encounters. When it comes to your identity, however, I’m in agreement with the show: Trust No One and monitor your credit file.
I Want To Believe.
The desire to believe our most tightly held beliefs can prevent us from making wise choices in our daily lives. It can also cause us to think we’re trapped into a life that will never make money, that will always be a slave to debt, or that will never finish your degree.
The best thing to do is to change your beliefs! Initiate actions that will improve your life. Always ask, “What’s my next step so that I can accomplish ___________ ?” Then take that step.
I think the truth is: You want to believe you CAN make a difference in your life. You want to believe you can get control of your money. You want to believe you can break free from the shackles of debt.
[tags]X, files, x files, x-files, mulder, scully, money, personal finance, debt, i want to believe, the truth is out there, trust no one, aliens, budgets, choices, credit, degree, expenses, finance, finances, life, priorities, priority, savings, spend, spending, work, budget[/tags]
This post was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance # 168 at That One Caveman. Thanks!