Good morning, I'm going to rattle this one off quick, have plans for the day. It always intrigues me how people prioritize their spending, what influences their choices, and how they decide what is important to them. We are all different and have different needs, but I can't help thinking that poor choices are at the root of many a problem debt. It's the psychology of what's behind spending which I find fascinating, but unfortunately I haven't time to write a whole book about it, so a blog post will have to suffice.
I'll start with what's at the top of my priority list, which I am sure many of you financial savvy people will agree with. First off is to pay for a roof over my head. I used to pay rent from the age of 16 to 27. Board and lodgings to my mum from the very first wage packet, then rent to a landlord for a bedsit or flat. At 27 I bought my first house which came with a mortgage. I never once defaulted on rent or mortgage because I didn't want to find myself without a home.
Second priority was to pay for any services to the accommodation. Council Tax which used to be called Poll Tax, and before that Rates, had to be paid. Heating and lighting had to be paid. I used it, I paid for it. So, that's a roof over my head covered.
My next priority was to eat, I always made sure I had enough money for food, even if it meant having to cut down a bit when things were tight. Now the edges start getting a bit blurred, things are not clear cut any more, there are choices to be made. Now the questions start. What are your priorities where food is concerned? What would you never give up no matter how much it costs? I still like to think I can adapt my eating habits according to how much money I have to spend on it. Squeeze my finances to the bone and I will find something to eat within my budget. I can't think of one thing that I would still buy if I had no money and had to go into debt for it.
Now comes the juggling bit, do you know how to juggle, because if you don't you need to learn. The term robbing Peter to pay Paul is imperative these days, though I wouldn't call it robbing, No need to go without if you prioritize before it gets to crisis point. And there is the crux of the matter. Good old fashioned sitting down and making a plan, thinking about what is important in your life.
I will never understand people who say they wouldn't give up this and give up that, and are perpetually in debt. So what they are saying is, plastic isn't real money and I will have whatever I fancy. I will have a latte every day, I will have the latest mobile phone gadgety thing, and I will change my car every year, because those are my priorities. I say, sunshine, you have got it all back to front, arse about face, and there will come a time when you will be drowning up to your eyeballs in debt because your priorities are all wrong.
But you can't tell folks that. Eventually they have a light bulb moment when the penny suddenly drops and they realize that something has to give. But the changes they need to make are like climbing a mountain, their habits are so ingrained in their lifestyle that they fight against change. They want to carry on with their current lifestyle and still get out of debt. Their juggling becomes more intense as they search out a remedy which will not impede their comfortable life.
The remedy is simple and staring them in the face, I'm stating the bleeding obvious here, where's Nellie when I need her, ha ha. If you spend more money than you have coming into the house you will go into debt. Spending someone else's money is not a good idea, it will come back to bite you on the bum eventually.
This is where the psychology comes into it. How do you decide what to spend your available income on? How do you divide it up and prioritize? Say you were down to your last couple of £'s would you spend it on a pint down the pub or a loaf of bread, a tin of baked beans, and six eggs?
Let's imagine we are all down to our last couple of £'s, no let's make it £5, I'm being generous. Imagine this scenario, we have paid the rent, and we have heating, what would you spend your last £5 on when you have a week to go till the next payday. I know what a lot of you are going to say, eat out of the freezer and cupboards, good for you. But there will be those who say I have nothing in my cupboards. Hang on a minute, what's that packet of pasta then, and what's that onion, and I see you have a stock cube. Isn't that food? Oh, I see, you don't fancy it so you are going out to spend your £5 on a pizza. Why not add a fizzy drink and a pancake to that and put it on the credit card!
Can you see what I mean, I'm sure you can, this is like teaching my grandma to suck eggs, but if there is one person out there who is desperately searching for that light bulb moment, then writing this post will have been worth it.
There is a lot more I could say but I don't want to appear sanctimonious, I don't know everything, I'm just drawing on my experiences and adding my thoughts. Questions you can ask yourself and only you can answer them. Do you have any debt? If not, you are swimming, if you have then you are sinking. What would it take to throw a life belt to you? You can do it the hard way, carry on sinking until you are eventually totally submerged, or you could sit down and work through your priorities. Divide up your income into pots according to what has to be paid, and when it has to be paid, but make sure you don't prioritize a new dress over slashing £50 off your debt. Never ever leave your debt languishing at the bottom of the list, promising to pay what ever you have left into it. It should be somewhere near the top. You have to pay your rent or mortgage, you have to pay Council Tax, you have to pay utilities, but you have control over how much you use, as I highlighted in yesterdays post.
Right, I'm off, done my bit, trying to help, need to go to town to pay some bills. I shall be looking for your comments, hope it all works out for you, whatever your situation.