What’s Holding You Back?

What's Stopping YouANYBODY can reach financial freedom. It’s a matter of wanting it badly enough. You don’t need high levels of income, have more than 168 hours in a week to work, or be the smartest person in the room. The difference between a rich person and an average person are choices. It’s YOU who decides whether you have a great future or a mediocre one. The best part? You control it.


You control your own destiny through the choices that you make. It’s not dependent on external factors, or a significant amount of luck (although it does help and I believe that it is necessary in life to have a little bit of luck), but internal factors such as your outlook on life, mindset, and decisions.

What’s Holding You Back?

I want you to ask yourself one question right now. Are you financially independent? If yes, that’s fantastic and you deserve a pat on the back for achieving it! Now it’s time to maintain that position in perpetuity.

If not, are you going towards it? Did your net worth go up last year? Are you saving to the point where it hurts? Are you letting the social effect get in the way of your success? If you are not satisfied with your answers to these questions, then you need to do something different than what you are doing right now.

The Social Effect

Is the social effect holding you back? The social effect is when you go out with your buddies, let’s say to a restaurant, and you let the social pressure direct your purchases because others at the table are buying an expensive appetizer, main course, and the salted caramel chocolate tart for dessert.

Looks delicious! Is it good for you..?


As humans, we are a social creature. We subconsciously love the company of others so we may mimic other’s actions. You can defend your purchases by saying “that looked really good on the menu” or “that is what I want” but sometimes, it’s not because of that but because of the fact that we are biologically programmed to live socially.

The key thing is to be cognizant and recognize the real reason behind your choices. The next time you are about to make a purchase, catch yourself and ask the reasons behind spending money. “Is this a necessity?” “Is my life going to be materially better tomorrow as a result of this purchase?” “Am I buying this to increase my utility and if so, will the utility be lasting or short-lived?”

The Problem with This Approach

This approach is effective at making sure your purchases aren’t detrimental. However, no one’s used to asking questions or being cognizant of every moment of their lives. It takes a while to change a habit and to form a new one. Why is this? People have other priorities. There are a million thoughts going through one’s brain throughout the day.

Thoughts such as “did I lock the door?,” “I have to prepare for my meeting tomorrow,”  or “what should I pack for lunch tomorrow?” take precedence over something new because of familiarity and priority. It takes a long time and a lot of brainpower for a new habit to form, especially one that requires you to be cognizant and aware of your actions. 

Even though it’s hard, the first step is recognition. Recognizing to be cognizant throughout the day and keeping it in the back of your mind will allow you to change any of your habits that you want to change. Changing your mindset to one that is more geared towards your goals will get you to a point of success.

What’s Your Story?

The social effect is one of the many avenues that could be holding you back from your goals. Ask yourself what’s holding you back and once you figure out the answer, do something about it. A lot of common excuses that I hear are that they can’t afford to save, the premium priced product that they are buying enhances their lives, or that they don’t have a lot of income coming in.

If this is the case you do something about it. Skip the office lunches and pack a sandwich for work, work a second job or get a second source of income, learn a new skill to get ahead and get noticed by your boss.

If you’re living in a developed country, you’ve won the lottery! What’re you going to do with your winnings? Use every opportunity given to you to their full potential. Instead of complaining that you’re not getting ahead why not do something about it and adjust?

A friend of mine’s dad came from Malaysia with absolutely nothing. His dad could afford one plane ticket and he used the money to come to the United States. He worked 70+ hours a week in shady gas stations and saved enough money to attend college then still worked a full time job during college to make it work.

Take a step back and think about the hours and the effort that he put in. What do these hours look like? These hours are like an IB Associate who is trying to make VP in the 1-2 years. Or a lawyer who’s trying to make partner. Yes, these hours are gruesome, tiresome, and even stressful at times.

The upside? He avoided poverty. The opportunities in a developed world are there for someone willing to have a great work ethic to avoid poverty. Poverty sucks. My grandparents aren’t very wealthy as they don’t own a computer, have a toilet that doesn’t run on sewage, and are at a point where they worry about making the medical bills that they are racking up and are thinking of going back to work. 

I use this story not to criticize my grandparents because they have given and risked everything they had for their children but so we can collectively learn from this.

Poverty should be your life-long enemy. Yes, sometimes the hours and the effort it takes to evade it are very gruesome but there’s upsides and downsides to it. I would much rather trade a social commitment for a stress-free life of abundance and security. I don’t make this trade every single time, and I see my friends multiple times throughout the week. It’s that I put in more hours to work towards financial independence.

With the will to succeed and the preparation it takes to reach your goals, there’s no telling what you can accomplish!

Readers, is there anything that’s holding you back? Are you meeting your financial goals? Why or why not? Leave a comment below!

Finance Solver

I grew my net worth to $40,000 as a college student through hard work, discipline, and a little bit of luck. I graduated college in 2016 and will be starting to plan for my retirement once I start working.I am planning on reaching financial independence by my early 30's and I will document my moments of inspiration all the way to desperation here.

My goal is to enable your success in personal finance so that you can realize the American dream. The first step is starting today!

Read more about me here.

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10 thoughts on “What’s Holding You Back?

  1. I feel like we have a fantastic mindset and great plans. There are 2 things holding us back:

    1. Having to do IVF for have a baby. It’s stopping us investing a lot of our money, and even if we’re successful on the first attempt, it’s going to cost so much of our cash.

    2. Our income. At the moment our combined income is low, but we’re building it bit by bit. I hope that the combined efforts of doing further education, starting our blog, our investing and working hard at work will get the extra income we need.


    • Finance Solver says:

      That is great! It’s still amazing to me how changing a mindset isn’t complicated at all yet people are choosing not to change their mindset to better their lives. Mindset dictates your choices!

      Ah, I believe having a baby is a completely value adding. It’s something that money can’t do and it will feel amazing when the baby comes on board your family! 🙂

      Income is something I’m working on as well, my company has health incentives where they’ll pay us an extra 1800 a year if we are healthy and work out throughout the year. I’m going to look for more opportunities to increase it but this is a great start!

  2. We’re on the right track to financial independence although we’ve just recently started tracking our net worth. Huge motivator. I’ll be creating our 10 year plan in the next month and part of it will be asking ourselves if a purchase is really necessary and will it add value. However, I was also raised to be smart with money + enjoy life in the process. So we’ll be taking a balanced approach. Yes we want to grow our net worth and reach FI, but we’ll still take advantage of special family vacations, spending date nights out at a nice restaurant — things that won’t add to the bottom line. Thank you for sharing, gives us a lot to think about. 🙂

    • Finance Solver says:

      That is fantastic! As long as the number is growing, it’s important to treat yourself along the way to avoid any burnout. I would say sometimes, the money you spend might not be on necessary things but the value it adds in de-stressing you can be so worth it. Price is what you pay, value is what you get!

  3. Great post! I am all about positive mindset. If you don’t believe you can do something, you probably won’t. We are reaching our goals, though sometimes progress is slower than I would like. Probably the biggest thing holding us back is our mortgage – we chose it intentionally with the realization it would push FI further out.

    • What’s even more interesting is that your mind dictates your actions and only you control your mind (hopefully not the other way around). I think that’s where the saying “whether you believe you can do it or you can’t, you’re probably right” comes from so a simple and uncomplicated switch of the way of thinking can give fantastic results!

      Mortgage is the good kind of debt, it’s buying an asset that generally appreciates in nature and one that has been dubbed as the best way to build wealth. More houses = more wealthy!

  4. The only thing holding my husband and me back is our massive student loan debt. Luckily, we learned to stop caring what others think and decided to delay any major purchases (like a home or new cars) that we can’t afford right now. We live extremely frugally and are on track to have all of our loans paid off by 2018.

    • Finance Solver says:

      The hard part is not letting the social effect get to you because humans are naturally and biologically social in nature because we need to be to survive. I set myself a “miscellaneous” budget to be able to spend money going out and relax and have to work so hard to make sure I don’t keep up with my friends who spend money like there’s no tomorrow. It’s great that you are living frugally and is the surefire way to success!

  5. I’ve become really aware of things now that I have set financial goals when I’m out with others or even alone. Sometimes I’ll pick something up and walk around the store and it ends up back on the shelf because I’ve had to really evaluate how it might be pretty or nice to look at, but ultimately it’s worthless to me.

    • Not a lot of people do that, so that’s awesome! It’s so hard to be cognizant and aware of your actions these days because we’re so busy and have so many other priorities that are taking away our brain power but the key is to slowly start being more cognizant and aware to question if the choices we are making are the right ones that will add value to our lives.

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