If you have never heard the story about the boy who cried wolf, here is the quick version of it. A little boy is watching a flock of sheep with the instructions to yell, “Wolf” if danger is coming to kill the valuable sheep. The boy gets bored and yells, “Wolf.” The whole town comes running ready to run off the danger, and the boys is found laughing as he tricked the villagers. The boy does this again, and again, and eventually when the real wolf shows up to kill the sheep, the villagers don’t come running when they hear the boy crying, “WOLF!” All is lost because trust is lost.
So how does this affect a family financially? Well, I worked with a guy once that ran a “Crying Wolf” household. He was always having trouble paying bills, he had trouble getting his car fixed (which was constantly having problems), and he even sat at work with no lunch while I was eating and told me how he didn’t know how to feed his kids. People at work and his church ate this up!
I thought he and I where in the same boat at the time financially. We where the same age, with the same job, with same problems, and the same amount of children to feed at home. The difference was, I wasn’t a victim and I thought I had control of my outcomes in life, and he saw his life as an uncontrollable world out to get him. He had no budget, he wasn’t changing a thing, and he asked everyone for help. We were friends, and I did help him. Not with $10 here and $20 there like others did as he cried “Wolf!”, but I bought him a few books. I got him “The Total Money Makeover” and the “Automatic Millionaire.” I also, sat with him during lunches, and explained I was on a journey to be a millionaire teacher, and he can do it if he starts now. He had $20,000 in student loans and around $4,000 in credit card debt. He could knock that out in 2 years and begin to build wealth if he wanted to change his ways. He had no interest in changing, and enjoyed “crying wolf” at everything little problem he had, and getting his freebies as everyone came running to the rescue.
Eventually, people at work tired of his crying, and people started to avoid him. His church cut him off (I found out later they were helping pay some of his bills that were late). His debt was still there years later, and he was still getting paid the same as me at work. We held equal positions, and I was moving up in the financial world. I was debt free, had a full six month emergency fund, and as a family we began travel hacking the world. Our life looked so great next to his, and he was still “crying wolf” to everyone who would listen (which was a few newbies at work). His wife, I found out, also was going around town “crying wolf” as she never worked, and wanted people to feel sorry and help her family out financially. The town stopped listening over time, just like the little boy in the story, because there was no problem except with their thinking.
I eventually changed jobs, and he eventually had a work break down and got into sales. He called me up a year into his new sales job and tried to pitch me on the buying some plumbing equipment, since he heard I was building a house. I politely declined, and asked how things were going. He gave me the elevator pitch of his life, and how hard it was, and how it was everyone out to get him, and thats why he left teaching. I said, I’m sorry to hear that and asked if he still had those books. He said he couldn’t find them. I suggested he go to the library and get them and they could change his life. He seemed hesitant about reading them. I haven’t spoken to him since then, and I assume he is still “crying wolf” to anyone who doesn’t know him yet.
I strongly believe he can change, but he first has to accept he is running a “Crying Wolf” household. His children are learning this behavior, and they are being taught we are not in control of finances and crying is the answer. This means his family will be doomed financially no matter how much money they make, because there is no problem except they refuse to help themselves. Financial literacy, and a change is possible and maybe more people will try to help him with education. Maybe his children will break the cycle and learn from their family’s mistakes. But, if you are a person “crying wolf” understand that you aren’t in financial trouble because of anyone else. It’s created by you, and you can change your situation without the villagers help if you want it bad enough.
I hope this story helps some people out there recognize their situations, and they can learn from it. No more “Crying Wolf!”