Time-tested principles for succeeding in life through the understanding and development of character, virtues represent the moral excellence of a person. From discipline to prudence, fortitude to faith, the warrior virtues presented in these pages are guaranteed to transform your life to one of meaning and purpose. Our new book, The Warrior’s Book of Virtues, uses the battle-tested principles of the United States Marine Corps to help everyone live their best life in easy and practical ways including the best ways to tackle your money and get more financially fit.
“The pain of discipline is nothing like the pain of regret.” —United States Marine Corps
1. Stop making excuses and look within.
Find a person in your life you trust who will tell you when you’re making excuses and trust their assessment. Even better, make a pact to hold each other accountable. Always respect and thank them when they have the courage to tell you the truth. Ultimately, it makes you better. Identify the issues by doing some soul searching. Do you really need that 14th pair of workout shoes? Why am I undisciplined? Why am I buying things I don’t need? Why don’t I want to save money? Are you spending money to make yourself feel better emotionally? Discard excuses; turn things around and resolve to make sound judgements moving forward. Set yourself up for financial success long term, and refuse to just exist.
2. Be prudent with your finances.
Work on becoming financially literate; do your due diligence researching and/or using low interest rates on loans. Spend less than you make. Stop being consumer stupid (aka buying stuff because it makes you happy in the moment). Do not build up college, home, car or credit card debt without a plan to pay things off. Live frugally, modestly and minimally. Turn the lights off when you leave the room and before you go to bed at night. Look for ways to conserve water if you don’t already have a system in place and use recycling services provided in your community. You are becoming a saver, not a waster. Invest in financial literature and education (debt management, financial planning, budgeting, tax planning and preparation). Pay all your bills in advance or on time. Chip away and remove all debts.
3. Conduct a weekly summary of your purchases.
Be accountable. What time of the day do you make your purchases? When making purchases, do you find yourself alone or with someone else? Are you buying stuff via the internet because you’re bored? Calculate your weekly total spent on each item. Do you notice any particular behaviors when you are spending the most? What changes can you start to make to reduce your spending habits/behaviors?
4. Do not borrow money from friends or family members.
Likewise, do not lend money or resources to friends and family members. If you’re a business owner, always pay yourself first, then your employees.
5. Reduce excess at home and work and trim down your activities.
Strip yourself of personal effects and knick-knack dust collectors. If it doesn’t make you happy or serve a function, give it to Goodwill. Say no to that committee, fundraiser, speaking engagement or request for pet-sitting unless it feeds you or gives you a sense of joy. Be mindful of using social media or video games to escape and reduce the amount of time you put into these activities if they start to interfere with your productivity.
6. Avoid confrontations.
They are a waste of time and energy. Learn and develop conflict resolution tactics and listening skills. Take control of your emotions. Study mindfulness practices. This will require discipline extending to your personal health such as fitness, nutrition and mindful practices. Learn to give and receive constructive criticism and feedback from others. It’s always a good idea to ask if someone wants ideas first. Be respectful if they decline your offer. Always remember, the other person doesn’t have to listen to you.
7. Stop being a victim.
The world doesn’t owe you any favors. If you picked out the first truck you liked on the car lot without driving it or asking about an extended warranty, that’s your decision and the risk you take. Conversely, avoid blaming your current set of circumstances on the choices and decisions of others; acknowledge and discard bad financial decisions you’ve made in the past, no matter how seemingly big or small they are, pledge to learn from your mistakes, and work to do better next time.
Nick Benas, USMC, is a former United States Marine Sergeant and Iraqi Combat Veteran. Author of Mental Health Emergencies: A Guide to Recognizing and Handling Mental Health Crises and Tactical Mobility, Nick now travels around the U.S. training individuals on how to respond to emergency mental health situations.
Matt Bloom, USMC, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserves where he spent eight years and completed two combat tours to Iraq. During this time he worked at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility as a counselor and assistant therapist for incarcerated offenders. Matt is currently a police officer in Pittsburgh, PA.
Richard “Buzz” Bryan, USN, is currently the Outreach Coordinator for the West Palm Beach VA medical center. Buzz was a dedicated and driven member of the Navy/Marine Corps team and retired from the United States Navy in July 2011, after 22 years of honorable service to the Fleet Marine Force.