There may come a time when an ardent Buddhist practitioner-wannabe encounters other spiritual practices from the common Indian tradition (the so-called Shramana tradition). For example, people may discover the existence of the Jains tradition, and upon reading some more on it, get confused as to how is Jainism different from Buddhism. I've been asked on more than one occasion to elaborate on this difference, and here I will provide a simile that may help understand the similarities and differences between these two religions.
Both Buddhists and Jains start from the same realization, which is that they recognize an unenviable position they find themselves in. In other words, they realize that they're in trouble. The Buddha called that "living in a house that's on fire". Naturally, once you realize that, you want to get the hell out of such terrible predicament. So, in that regard, both Buddhists and Jains share the identical realization and conviction. It is in their approach to how to get out of the predicament that they fundamentally differ.
Allow me to attempt to reinforce this diagnosis with an illustration: both Buddhists and Jains find themselves living in a world where they work shitty jobs and live in shitty apartments. They are bound to do back-breaking minimum wage jobs and struggle to make ends meet while living in vermin-infested downtrodden apartment complexes. To add insult to an injury, they are also oppressed by huge debts that they all carry on their maxed-out credit cards. Given the dire situation they find themselves in, they can only afford to make minimum payments on their credit cards, which basically means that they're stuck in a rat race. At that point, both Buddhist and Jains realize that something must be done, or else they're going to drown in debt.
It is down to what Buddhist or Jains choose to do that differentiates them. Jains always choose the passive way out, meaning that they cut back on all spending, in the hopes of being able to increase their credit card payments and thus get ahead of the rat race. Buddhists, in contrast, always choose a more active way out, meaning that, instead of toning it down and making sure they cut the spending to a bare minimum, they'd rather invest in their own education and re-skilling. They are willing to undergo training, to learn new skills and gain new qualifications. That way, they are hoping to be able to get a better paying job which will help them pay off their debt more quickly.
So there you have it, in a nutshell: it's all about carrying a huge debt (in spiritual parlance, karmic debt), and how you plan to pay it off.