Last Wednesday, myself and several hundred other people signed into a tele-webinar of sort called “Conquer Your Debt” with SmartCookies Sandra, and Pocket Your Dollars author and website owner Carrie Roche. I follow both on facebook, and as soon as I saw that the opportunity was FREE I quickly reserved a spot. I’m not sure if I had any expectations going in, only in that I hoped it would involve more practical information than personal testimonial’s laden with self-helpy euphemisms. Luckily for me it was a combination of both, but with some really good common sense info, and what seemed like simple common sense strategies that have somehow eluded me. One of the many things Carrie discussed that resonated with me , was how hearing her parent’s tell her, “We Can’t Afford That” often as a child impacted her spending habits as an adult. She was so used to hearing “We Can’t Afford That“, that she had come to conclude , the only reason to NOT spend the money you make is if you can’t afford the things you want, but only if you DON”T have it, so when you DO have it, you buy everything you want. It gives you the green light to spend indiscriminately because hey..you have it , so you CAN afford it.
This was kind of revelatory for me, because it explains my spending behavior when I have small windfalls of money. I often wonder “how did I end up broke again? I’m usually so good with money!”. It’s because I spend so much time otherwise denying myself, I indulge like crazy when I have access to lump sums of money. She also said something that spoke to my other destructive habits, that telling ourselves “I deserve a treat” is a dangerous justification for impulse buying. You deserve a treat when you have a bad day, you deserve a treat when you have a good one. This is twice fold as true when I have small windfalls, I tell myself “you’re usually so frugal, go head and buy yourself something nice gurrl”,
……….and then I steadily erode at what little windfall or savings I accumulate. It all makes sense now.
Anyway, rather than me trying to explain everything ver batim you can just listen to the recording.
She also mentioned some really simple first steps to take when confronting your debt :
#1 Remind yourself why what you’re doing is important to you, what all this means. Who and what are you doing this for?
#2 Make a list or excel sheet listing everyone you owe money to, how much in total you owe, and the minimum payments they will accept for debt negotiation. This seems like a no-brainer, but when I tell you I was in a complete fog as to how to get started, believe me. I need to keep in mind I am completely re-learning everything I thought I knew about financial literacy, and I need things to be broken down into simple steps. This will work for me.
So, I am beginning to try and go through all of my over due bills, no matter how small…even the small fortune I think I owe to the Chicago Public Library for that ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ CD/Book combo I found under my sons bed last week, hell I might even pay back the money to the BMG music club for those 12 CD’s for a penny I got, back when I HAD to have the Soul For Real LP. While we’re on the subject of Excel sheets and how much we all hate them, you can bypass that and download these free financial worksheets (not sure if they’re editable or not) or just pop open Google Doc and get crackin.
* There are two programs to assist you with budgeting and debt repayment mentioned :
ReadyForZero.com (which I believe offers free & paid plans) and Youneedabudget.com (Budget software that allows a 34-Day Free Trail)