Once upon a time, a frog found himself sitting in a pot of very hot water.
He had been there for some time. At first, the pot had been comfortable, so he’d stayed put. Then bit by bit things had gotten hotter. Now the surface was bubbling and steam was rising. Worse yet, the heat had turned the frog’s legs to jelly so that they no longer worked. It was all he could do just to keep his head above water.
The poor frog glanced around and concluded that he was very much in peril.
“I’ve got to get out of this mess,” he thought.
The frog looked up and could see the curved ledge of the pot looming above. In the not-so-distant past he might have jumped up there, but with mushy legs he had no chance. At least his arms still worked. He raised one of them high above his head until a finger caught the edge of the pot’s top. With great effort he pulled himself just high enough to see outside; he could climb no further.
The frog looked down at the stove. Through the steam he saw a dial. The dial was numbered 1 to 10—and was set at 10.
“If only I could turn that dial down,” reasoned the frog, “then I could cool off the water, refresh my legs, and jump out.”
But alas the dial was out of reach.
And then the frog noticed something. Leaning up against the pot was a plastic spoon with the name “Acme” embossed on the handle. Acme was a company that promoted its line of basic kitchen utensils as “budget solutions for aspiring cooks.” In the not-so-distant past, the frog had turned up his nose at such entry-level products (although the frog was nice he liked to surround himself with very nice things—which is mostly how he got into hot water in the first place).
“Acme sure makes cheap stuff,” thought the frog as the water bubbled, “but maybe this budget solution is just what I need.”
The frog grasped the spoon, swung it over to the dial, and with all his might used it to ratchet down the stove’s setting from a very high 10 to a very modest 2. At that point, the spoon slipped from his hand and dropped to the floor. Exhausted, the frog slumped back into the pot where he fell into a deep slumber.
When the frog awoke he found the water around him refreshingly cool. He tested his leg muscles and discovered that they had regained much of their spring. With one powerful leap he reached the pot’s ledge. Then he jumped to the floor where his revived legs cushioned a hard landing.
The frog could see the kitchen door ajar. He hopped over and peeked out. In the distance he saw a pond with dozens of cattails along its western shore—a sure sign of excellent frog habitat.
“Incredible,” he thought, “there’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored.”
The frog glanced back and saw the plastic spoon on the floor. He retraced his hops and picked it up.
“This might be of further use,” he thought.
And so with the cheap spoon securely in hand, the frog slipped out the door and set off on a journey to the inviting pond.
* * *
Moral of story: if from debt you wish to leap, make a budget you can keep.