A couple of weeks ago someone posted a comment which had some personal stuff in it relating to the posters health, and financial situation. It appeared to be written on the spur of the moment, I saw a lot of emotion in the words. I wondered if she might have second thoughts about posting it after she had time to think about it, so I removed it and asked the poster to email me so I could personally reply to her. She hasn't come back to me. I don't want her to think I am ignoring her, so I will address some of the issues here, no need to identify her, as some of her issues affect a great many other people as well. I can answer in general terms.
The poster admits to making mistakes in the past regarding her spending, and is currently trying to put things right. She has a DMP (Debt Management Plan) in place which will run for the next six years. All this is worrying her and having an effect on her health, resulting in a lot of stress. She asks for my advice, I'll post my thoughts here, but they could apply to anyone in this situation.
For a start, your health is more important than any money worries you may have. You can't die of over spending, but if you worry about your debt you can get so stressed out that it affects all parts of your body. The saying a healthy mind is a healthy body, and a healthy body is a healthy mind, is very true, they are all connected. You can literally worry yourself to death. So looking after your health and well being is of the utmost importance. Take a step back, take a deep breath. Anyone can make a few mistakes, if you learn from it you can try and put things right.
Money problems are not going to go away overnight, unless you win the lottery and the chances of that happening are virtually nil. There is no quick fix here, a slow recovery is on the cards, but as long as you are taking steps in the right direction there is no reason why you cannot look to a rosy future.
What is money anyway? We all need some, to pay for the things we need. Everyone's needs are different. I need a place to live, clothes to wear, and food to eat. My car is bordering on the needs/wants. I could manage without it but I wouldn't want to give it up right now. Other things are wants. I don't need to have cats, I don't need broadband, but I will keep them along with the car because I can afford to pay for them.
I have given up the pet insurance policy that I had for Bugsy, and now I make sure I have enough money in my account to cover for any treatment. He is 17 years old, and any problems he gets from now on are likely to be age related. I don't believe in putting an old cat through lots of stress and discomfort at the vet just to get a few more weeks. I am not insuring any more cats, I will keep money in my account so it's there if it is needed. Things to be considered on whether to insure or not. Do you live on a main or busy road? What is the possibility of the cat being run over? Does it roam or is it confined to a garden? Does it mix with other cats? Does it stay out at night? How old is it? If you know where it came from did it come from healthy stock? I live in a no through road, only the people who live here, and visitors, pass my house. My cats stay mainly in my garden and sometimes visit neighbouring gardens. I get them in at night. They ocassionally meet other cats. I hope they don't need to go to the vet, but if they do I can pay for it. Any insurance is about risk, do you want to cover that risk yourself or do you want to pay and pass it on.
I'll say something about impulsive spending, which is the reason why a lot of people have got themselves into debt in the first place. Spending is like a drug, you can become addicted to it, and then totally dependant on it. If you are low on self esteem a quick fix would be to go out and treat yourself. You feel good for a while but later the reality hits you when the bills start coming in. That lovely dress is still hanging in the wardrobe with it's labels still attached, and you are once again fed up.
Low self esteem is due to something else not being right in your life, and you need to face up to that before you can tackle the compulsive spending disorder. I had very low self esteem when I was a teenager, and through my twenties. I had, and still have, BDD, I perceive myself as being ugly, I hate my face. I spent all my money on trying to make myself look normal, like any other girl of my age. I needed the dresses, the makeup, the hairstyles, to prop me up because I felt so worthless. Luckily I knew when to stop spending, because my mother taught us that we could only buy what we could afford to pay for. Thank you mother, you were my saviour.
I can easily see how anyone can find themselves out of control with their spending, money can and will control your life if you let it. Just like all the other help groups available for other addictions I think there should be one to tackle out of control spending.
You might need to make some changes in your life, put the wrong things right, mend the parts which are broken, or if something is broken beyond repair scrap it altogether and move on. Only you know what is not working and only you know what you have to do. Once you've tackled the reasons for your impulsive spending you can start to think about taking control of your money, rather than money controlling you.
So, say everything is hunkydory, you have made the changes and everything is sailing along just fine, apart from the spending which is still lurking in the background. You've still got to get that debt down. First off, make a spending diary, write down every single penny coming into, and out of the house. Keeping track is the key. Cut up the credit cards that you don't need, and that should be all of them except one. You must write to the companys to tell them that you are closing your account. Close store cards and never set foot in their shops again. If you don't trust yourself not to spend on the one remaining card, put it in an old margarine tub, fill it with water, and freeze it. By the time it has defrosted you will have forgotten what it was you wanted to buy.
Only spend cash. Withdraw just enough cash out of the bank weekly for your day to day living. When it's gone it's gone. If you think you might be tempted to spend while you are out, don't take any money with you. I used to be forever popping into our village shop to buy a magazine, a bar of chocolate, a bag of crisps, a bottle of wine. All that has stopped, I hardly go in at all, I don't have any money in my pockets when I am out and about in the village.
Just to sum up, think about running your home like a business. The money in and money out has to balance. To borrow is to spend someone elses money, it is not free and you will have to pay extra in interest. Why do you want to give someone else your hard earned money? OK so you might get an interest free period on a new credit card, but you make sure you jolly well pay it all off by the time that period ends, if not you are heading for trouble. I have one credit card, I ocassionally use it, mainly for convenience. I pay it off in full every month. I have no idea what my limit is or what my interest rate is, I don't care.
To everyone who is worrying about money troubles, I want you to look in the mirror when you get out of bed tomorrow morning and every morning, and promise yourself that this is the beginning of the end. The beginning because you are taking control, and the end of worrying about it.
When I was beginning my career as a lorry driver, people were nasty to me, they made me cry, they put me down, they said I shouldn't be taking the job off a man. I felt like giving up, but something in me said no, just get on with it. Every morning felt like a brand new start, what had happened the day before had gone, pushed to the back of my mind, gone forever never to be revisited. Hey, I stuck with it, and so must you. Good luck.
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