Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Journaling - Day 4

There's an amazing website out there for people like me having issues with compulsive spending and debting.  Debtors Anonymous is an awesome support group which follows the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. 

When you get to their main page, there's a section down at the bottom where you can test yourself to see where you stand with compulsive spending. 

I decided to post these questions and answer them honestly -- to fully bring to light the hugeness of my problem.  (I know that's probably not a word, but it's a good word for the magnitude of my problem.)

(Note:  most compulsive debtors will answer "yes" to at least eight of the following 15 questions.)
1. Are your debts making your home life unhappy?
Absolutely.  I'm stressed.  Worried about money all the time.  I feel like the joy of living is almost all but gone.
2. Does the pressure of your debts distract you from your daily work?
To an extent, yes.  And while I don't work, but it has been affecting how I run my home. 
3. Are your debts affecting your reputation?
Yes.  I've been earning back the trust of family members -- my parents, my brother, my husband and his family.  I've proven over and over that I'm not trustworthy when it comes to money.
4. Do your debts cause you to think less of yourself?
Oh, where to begin.  My self-esteem is shot.  I'm a disappointment not only to myself, but to my family.  I feel like a bad mother because my problem is potentially causing a negative impact on my daughter's.  I'm stupid because why can't I just stop? 
5. Have you ever given false information in order to obtain credit?
Yes.  And I'll get into that in a later post.
6. Have you ever made unrealistic promises to your creditors?
Yep.  I'll tell them anything to get them to stop calling.
7. Does the pressure of your debts make you careless of the welfare of your family?
Yes.  I spend without regard to keeping my home and family safe.  I spend to fulfill MY needs instead of taking care of the needs of my family.  I spend money before taking care of basic necessities - like utilities, bills, etc.
8. Do you ever fear that your employer, family or friends will learn the extent of your total indebtedness?
Every day.  I fear that if my friends and family really knew the extent of what I've done and the mess I've gotten myself into, I would completely lose everything.
9. When faced with a difficult financial situation, does the prospect of borrowing give you an inordinate feeling of relief?
Absolutely.  It's that "if I only won the lottery" syndrome.  When there's an extra paycheck that I know that's coming, the weight is lifted off my shoulders because then I know that I can play "catch up" with that extra cash instead of doing the responsible thing like paying off debt or putting it into savings.
10. Does the pressure of your debts cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
Have you seen the bags under my eyes?  Can you say insomnia?  Is tossing and turning an Olympic sport?
11. Has the pressure of your debts ever caused you to consider getting drunk?
Thankfully, I can answer no to this one. 
12. Have you ever borrowed money without giving adequate consideration to the rate of interest you are required to pay?
No.  Because of my credit, I can't even get a loan, so this really isn't an issue.
13. Do you usually expect a negative response when you are subject to a credit investigation?
Absolutely.  While I don't know my credit score, I know that warning bells go off everywhere when I have to go through a credit check.
14. Have you ever developed a strict regimen for paying off your debts, only to break it under pressure?
Yes.  The need to spend is so strong that I give in and all good intentions are out the window.
15. Do you justify your debts by telling yourself that you are superior to the "other" people, and when you get your "break" you'll be out of debt overnight?
I wouldn't say that I ever say that I'm superior to others.  In fact, it's the opposite.  I feel so unworthy and shameful that I couldn't even begin to imagine a feeling of superiority.
So, there you have it.  More than half of my answers show that I have a problem with compulsive debt/spending.  It's seeing this in black and white that's prompted me to work on this issue.  I believe that as I work through this, everything else will fall into place -- weight issues, self-esteem issues, etc.
If you took this quiz along wtih me, how did YOU score?
If you found yourself answering in a similar manner, then I hope that you'll take this journey with me.  I realize that I was at a cross road.  The one road - the easy road - will lead me to further denial and despair.  The second road - the hard road - will be more challenging, but will lead me to the life that I wish I had all along - one of self-respect, happiness, and solvency.