actually, i’m pretty sure it is your fault.

28 10 2010

so i’ve been hearing these commercials on my morning radio show where some dude starts yelling off a list of horrible financial woes:

debt collectors knocking down your door?
up to your eyeballs in credit card debt?
thinking that bankruptcy is your only option?

but then he brings it down just a notch to let you know:

IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.

sure, people hit hard times. medical bills, lost jobs, some other things that i can’t think of right now… but the majority of people that i know who are financial wrecks (myself absolutely included) are that way because they made poor choices. it fills me with rage to hear the debt consolidation/credit counseling agencies preying on people’s need to be in denial about the reality of their financial situations. nobody wants to take responsibility for fucking up, but if you ask anyone in a 12 step program, admitting that you’re a fucking mess is the only way to make it better. so fuck you debt consolidation agency. IT IS MY FAULT- and here’s why:

1. i don’t pay attention to what i spend. i put my credit cards in the freezer over a year ago, which is a distinct improvement, but my debit card is with me all the time. i go out to eat constantly, buy crap on a whim (can you say series of 4 horse paintings?), overspend at the grocery store (i was in the whole foods for 5 minutes yesterday and still managed to spend $14). even thought i’m not creating any new debt, i’m not giving the money that i have the reverence it deserves- i just keep unceremoniously shoving it out the door.

2. which brings us to admission #2-  i don’t save enough. probably because i’m spending all my fucking money on nothing. for the most part, the really bad debt disasters happen when people are spending up to the hilt of their income and don’t have a cushion saved up for emergencies. then, the first time that shit goes really wrong, they bust out the credit cards. like i did. repeatedly. from the ages of 18-30.

3. even though my 2 cards are in deep freeze at the moment, they got in there in the first place because spent the first 10 years of my adult life spending beyond my means. i wanted to have grown up clothes, i wanted to buy people decent xmas presents for a change, i wanted to find out what it felt like for money to be no object. except that it is an object, a very big object with an 19% APR. too bad i don’t pay more than the minimum on my cards every month. it’s good that i’m not racking up new debt, but if i can’t control my cash flow enough to afford to make bigger payments on my credit card, then i’m never going to get out from under it.

maybe it’s because i just watched confessions of a shopaholic AND maid to order back to back, but i’m sudden feeling possessed to try to make some greater changes in my life. i’ve made progress from where i was, but i’m stalled out. i still have $13,000 worth of credit card debt, and i’d really like it to be gone by the time i’m 35 (that’s T-minus 2 years and counting). maybe i hate dave ramsey because i know that he’s right about making severe lifestyle cuts in order to cut my debt… actually, it’s probably the religious thing, but i am definitely in denial about the fact that real debt reduction does require some sacrifice. now, i’m not going to go all crazy and start making drastic lifestyle changes (eat out less? stop shopping? start buying produce at walmart?) or anything… but i am going to admit that what i’m doing now is definitely not working.

step one down… 11 more to go.

what is the one habit/addiction that you SHOULD cut out of your life for financial reasons, but just can’t seem to let go?

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18 responses

28 10 2010
Elisa

AMEN SISTER!!!

I have a half-finished post for next week on the same thing. Cause I totally *get* that some people have rough times/problems/etc and shit happens to them. But for the majority of problems (finances, weight, lifestyle, etc.) the problem is us.

We are TOTALLY a world of excuses and justifications and it makes me angry. Yes, the mortgage broker who got you into the upside-down loan was a douchebag, but you make $21,000 a year. What made you honestly think it was a GOOD idea to buy a $400,000 house?!?!

As for your question, according to Mint.com my highest spends are in Alcohol. Which probably involves a whole other 12-step program.

4 11 2010
bessmarvin

your post turned out totally awesome! and absolutely applicable to me. food and money are my two biggest struggles, and i am constantly making excuses for why i need to spend and/or eat. it’s totally my fault (and the fault of food for being so delicious). after reading that marie claire piece, this whole chapter about my experiences with weight watchers snuck into my nano. my highest spending on mint is eating out. i’m a restaurant junkie. better than crack though… right?

28 10 2010
Evelyn

Ya know, mostly I agree with you, having been there myself, but there is one aspect of this that doesn’t get discussed much: if EVERYONE did what you’re aiming for, our economy would be in the toilet. That’s not to say that we don’t need to take responsibility, but it’s something to think about.

4 11 2010
bessmarvin

well, the good news is that i’ll probably never be a money hoarder. i get maybe 80-90 years on this planet, and i want to enjoy them all. but i would also like to make sure that i can take care of myself into my 90s. i’m not suggesting total financial prudence here, but if i had less debt, i could enjoy putting more cash back into the community, and still have a little bit left over for the ole savings account.

28 10 2010
InfamousQBert

it’s the religious thing. he’s such an ass. and the thing is, no matter how high his horse is, there are people for whom bankruptcy really is the only option. my wife is one of those people. it was a REALLY hard decision, because she prides herself on being self-sufficient and NOT fucking up. but a combination of some bad decisions after a break-up and then losing her job screwed things up. she was in a credit counseling/consolidation program, had cut off ALL of her extra bills and such and it still wasn’t working. the big B isn’t a great get out of jail free card. it sends your credit to the lowest place it can possibly be and leaves you there for a looooong time. but at least you can buy groceries without worrying that some asshole debt collector is going to scream at you about doing that instead of paying him.

28 10 2010
InfamousQBert

also, suze orman is just as good and not as scary.

4 11 2010
bessmarvin

amen for suze. and i totally hear you about the bankruptcy thing. it happens. break ups, lost jobs, vet bills, other assorted unexpected bullshit… my post was probably a bit oversimplified that way. but i do think it’s right that bankruptcy law no longer just wipes the slate clean. this debt may take me another 10 years to rectify, but i think it’s important for us to have a chance to rise from the ashes sometimes.

28 10 2010
jill

you mentioned to me before about the great american clothes diet or whatever it was. haha..i wish i could do that.. but i cant. i cant. i just cant. girlfriend you remind me of myself because i did the same thing this summer,.. read that shopaholic book and freaked out. but yes, i am also the one who has been living now with her husband in her parents basement.. for a year. and thats the only way we paid off our debt. yes, like you $12K in credit card debt.. along with a personal loan and i paid off my car. really can you move home? is it an option?? do it if you can. 🙂 im the same age as you and am not proud to be a cellar dweller.. but will hopefully be buying a house in 6 months. otherwise my husband is divorcing me..

4 11 2010
bessmarvin

yeah, i wouldn’t have a chance in hell at that. every time there is a change of season, my body decides that it needs a whole new wardrobe. right now i need new knee high boots, more sweaters, and a wool mini skirt. i totally agree that buying high quality is often a better investment than cheap stuff right now. although the truth is that right now i shouldn’t be investing in anything. i have far more than i actually need, i just have a deep and penetrating lust for fashion that can’t be controlled.

i am definitely impressed by your willingness to be a cellar dweller. i’d do it if i could, but i bought a condo last year. although in my defense, my mortgage is $300 less than my rent used to be.

hopefully i can occupy my winter with writing this blog. that’s free! plus, there’s always sledding!

28 10 2010
jill

btw im currently obsessed with skinny jeans, skinny cargo pants, skinny cords.. i dont think ive work cords since 1995. i also want a pair of black boots to go over them. thought i wanted the suede slouchy kind but not sure i love them. might just go for a pair of leather. even tried on today the over the knee ones but thats not really me. i also want a new winter jacket. i think a wool one with a tie around the waist. and you know what kind of purse i have? orla kiely. bought it on sale last yr after i moved into the basement. i still use it, havent bought another one like a good girl. and when i say another one i mean another orla kiely one. i have made changes. huge ones. but im still obsessed with clothes. and nail polish. i cvs’d all summer and according to my savings on my receipt i only spent $40 for the summer quarter but saved $400. but can i tell you how many razors and makeup i have. i cant stand it anymore. i am currently couponed out! so dont feel bad. you’re not the only one who spends money like that. except that winter is coming and we need to find some cheap time consuming habits til spring rolls around. because we all know what a drag a new england winter is.

28 10 2010
chris

i had a shitty $500. limit credit card in college and maxed it out in a month. it took me years to pay that thing off because i made only minimum pmts each month. that traumatized me enough that i have been careful with money since then. i lived in my parent’s basement w/my husband and dog for 3 years while we built our first house; yeah it sucked, but i had a house with hardly any mortgage when i was 25. i have several friends (and i’m in my 40’s) who are still renting and living paycheck to paycheck while charging shit on 10 different credit cards. it scares me. i picture myself at 65 eating catfood and living in my car because i didn’t save enough money (i’m self employed and not counting on social security to save my ass). can you tell i worry about this type of shit alot????

28 10 2010
kate.

chris’ comment just scared the shit out of me. anyway, i too unceremoniously shove my money out the door- and usually at the grocery store. must! have! cheese! and fancy snacks! and expensive meat for my conscious! but like, i *don’t* have a fuckton of debt. i just don’t make a lot of money, because i tripped (tralala!) from seasonal awesome outdoor ed. job to job for 5 years after college instead of building a career like most people. now i’m making entry level money, and i’m sick of not having grown up clothes or nice dishes or curtains that aren’t sarongs. so i spend my money on random, cheap shit that will just need to be replaced in a year anyway, to make myself feel better. 😦 wow, that was cathartic, thanks for listening, allie!

31 10 2010
the coupon goddess

OK, I hate to tell you this chickie (and I love you to pieces), even though Dave Ramsey preaches from the religious right, he’s right on the money. His counsel is sound and a good path to follow. If you want to get rid of the debt, his plan is a decent one to follow. And you know I wouldn’t send you down the wrong path…… 😉

2 11 2010
bessmarvin

oh, i know you’re totally right. i’m just saying that i can get equally good advice from someone who doesn’t have a right wing christian agenda.

1 11 2010
Sometimes It Is Not Ok | Ophelias Webb

[…] I am not overweight because of a disease that leaves me fatigued and broken almost daily.  Or because I know I am pretty enough and don’t need to fit into some box, imposed by society’s expectations.  Or because I am so ridiculously busy with work and family and life that I can’t find time to take care of myself. Or because my parents didn’t love me enough when I was a child or I am in a mental distress of total self-loathing.  Or whatever other excuses we lay out to tell people that “it’s not their fault.” […]

5 11 2010
Erica @ Just Call Me Cheap

We have debt and I am going to say that I am not totally bothered by it- I mean, I wish we didn’t have it but I don’t feel like I am going to die because of it or that I am going to feel the rath of God because of it and spend the rest of my life in purgatory (I don’t even really know what purgatory is but I think it is bad).

I like to have somewhat nice stuff and do not want to live a miserly life of making my own laundry detergent and washing plastic baggies. My husband and I pay our bills and are slowly chipping away at our debt but we by no means are going to move into a cardboad box and cook over a campfire to pay off our debt faster.

Like you, I don’t like people who shove god down my throat especially people who are trying to sell me something. It is like I am a defiant teenager and when someone tells me I need to do something I do the complete opposite thing. Plus, Dave Ramsey is so trendy right now and trendy stuff turns me off (hello being “green”).

11 11 2010
bessmarvin

thank you erica. i think that people get really angry at me sometimes because i’m not more actively freaking out about my debt. i do want it gone, and i do know that it’s not good, but i am so with you on the NEVER WASHING OUT PLASTIC BAGGIES front. i get roughly 80 years here, and i would like to enjoy all of them. do i need to ease off the spending a little? YES! am i ever going to live in a shoebox and eat ramen and put every single cent toward my debt? NO! there is a balance, and it’s nice to know i’m not the only one trying to find it.

16 11 2010
getting to the mailbox. « broke 207

[…] 1 of the 12 step process is admitting you have a problem, and i’m really good at that. probably too good. at the crazy doctor this week, i realized that I AM STALLING. i’ll admit […]

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