Warm FuzzieS and Holiday Spending
by Diane Conlinn, November 6, 2000
Jumping up and down, I'm so excited. It's Thanksgiving week, I get four whole days off. I get Thursday and Friday off, and ...it's payday. I can buy, clothes, jewelry, get my nails done, have a massage, buy some books, go to a movie. And I can pay my utilities, my cable bill, pay off my charge cards, catch up my late payments. In addition, I saw some really neat new sheets and comforter on sale. I want to redo my entire bathroom, oh I know a new tablecloth, we'll have a picture perfect holiday..
Well, as I look back on the previous paragraph, all those things sound good, except for one teeny, tiny, problem. I've just spent my paycheck three times because I also have forgotten a few tiny things such as paying my rent, my car payment, and my insurance bill.
Holidays are a great time of year, and I don't know about you, but I get less sluggish in the winter. The cold makes me feel perky, and the world a beautiful place. The sky is always bluer. And when I get happy, well, I tend to get a little over generous in the spending department.
Happiness is about spending money isn't it? It's about having brand new sheets, and new clothes, and pretty hair, etc.
Nevertheless, I want it we say, I want it. Well... there are some possible solutions to this problem. Why do we want to spend these things, are they wrong?
Deep down you knew the answer, Right? Yes, it's wrong., you are a bad person, bad, bad for wanting this. Right?
Isn't it funny how we humans take natural instincts and twist them into something to feel guilty over.
Loving beauty, freshness, fun, comfort. These are all natural things. They are part of being human. So, it isn't wrong to want these things.
Unfortunately, when most of us were young, we weren't trained how to get the things we want. Most people are not in the poverty range. Most of us are mid-range earners. So, though we can't wear designer clothes, we can still wear nice clothes. We have children and families that we naturally want to have the same things we do.
What we need is a plan. A plan. And contrary to what we've been told, we don't need credit for it. What we need is to get a realistic picture of our life. What is really important to us, as opposed to what we are told is supposed to be important to us. How do we find that out, by keeping a record of our spending habits.
Now, I mean keeping a record of what we spend, not using it as a criticism for what we spend, but a record. Don't keep a record to put a choke chain on yourself. But to find out where your values lie. Because, unless you are a robot you have them. Track every dime you spend, no matter how much for at least a month. Find out where your money goes
Then categorize your expenses. There are a couple of great ways to keep records on http://www.solvency.org/ThePlan.xls. Another great source is http://www.solvency.org/recordkeeping.html
Next, with trusted others to help you create a spending plan. (Sometimes an objective opinion helps a lot, debtors anonymous has pressure groups. Now these aren't pre-madeup groups but kind hearted souls that answer your cry for help). Putting your monthly expenses first. Rent, food, clothing, pet care, school clothes, automobile payments, insurance. Don't forget to include a few of the necessities of the spirit as well, a few movies, or books, or other entertainment.
When you add that all up, what is left, is what can go to your creditors. What, you say? But, that's only $50 and I have 20 creditors. Write each creditor a letter and send each 2.50 a month. Then as soon as your situation changes, let's say you get a windfall of $600, divided that $600 in 3 parts, and pay $200 to your creditors, $200 to your present needs, and put away $200 for that future contingency which is what got you where you are in the first place. Of course, when I talk about a spending plan, I do mean reasonable amounts. Perhaps, your job requires you to wear suits, then $25 a month for clothing is probably not going to work. And what about dry cleaning and laundry. Don't write down what you wish would happen, write the reality down. The interesting thing about this is that if you keep following this plan, you will eventually build up a contingency fund for those emergencies, you will have money to buy clothes, and take care of your family and those reasons to have credit cards will disappear. You can just cut those cards up and throw them away. If you find your expenses are more than your income, then it's time to get a better job. Or find a way to change your expenses.
How much money did you allot for Holiday Gifts. If this was listed after debt repayment, go back and redo your plan. I am not advocating paying your creditors nothing, especially secured debts such as cars, homes, or IRS and student loans. By all means, pay your payments. And I encourage you pay what you can. But, the trick here is to keep your spending in line with what you make, so you don't use those credit cards, or borrow money to create more debt. Wouldn't it be nice for the new year to come without a load of new debt?
So, let this holiday be a true time of prosperity for yourself. You'll be glad you did and life will take on a whole new meaning.
You will be honoring yourself, your family, and keeping a commitment to caring for your family.