Monday, January 30, 2012

In The Red - Chapter One

While digging through my stash of books, I came across "In the Red" by Alexis Hall.  She writes a diary about her journey out of debt and out of the grip of compulsive spending.  I had four books spread on my bed and I was trying to decide which one I needed to start reading first.  I just closed my eyes and asked God to lead me to what He wanted me to read first.  Alexis's book kept coming to my mind -- so there was my answer.

Now before you read on, I'd like to explain that generally when I read a self-help book, I highlight...a lot....and I write notes in the margins....a lot.  But with having this blog, I wanted to be able to write down and share my thoughts when something jumped out at me.

So what you will read below are some phrases from the book that jumped out at me.  They are bolded and underlined.  And then immediately below that are my thoughts and comments about what I took away from that passage.

You may become bored and scroll through...but it's my hope that my thoughts and words will touch someone the way Alexis's words touched me -- and prompted me to explore myself and my addiction even deeper.


"all started when I was a student, away from home and entrusted with a $500 overdraft."
College was when I got my first credit card.  A major department store.  I ran that one up shopping for clothes we could never afford when I was growing up.  But I had no way to pay for it.  Daddy paid it off.  I kept the card and ran it up again.  By that time I had a job and was paying my bills on my own - barely, but I was.  But then more and more credit card offers started to come in.  The cycle had begun.....

"Each one you get will be the last one and you promise yourself you'll only use it in an emergency.  Two months later, you've maxed the card out and don't know where you'll ge the money to pay it back.  How depressing...never mind, you can always go shopping to cheer yourself up.  And round we go again.....
Emergencies only.  Once it's paid off, I'll cancel it.  Often times the cards were cancelled for me because I wasn't able to pay them.  But it didn't stop me from shopping.

"Kevin really is the original long-suffering partner.  He's put up with me and my compulsive spending for nearly fourteen years.  He once paid off all my credit cards and made me stand at the bin with a pair of scissors cutting up my plastic partners in crime.  He listened to me sobbing and wailing, promising I'd never do it again and I've thanked him by running the whole lot up to the hilt again."
Hubby has been with me through it all.  Getting angry over and over and over when he'd get the phone calls or the past due bills.  Believing me when I'd say that I was sorry and that I'd work at it harder -- and then turn around and put us back in the same position -- sometimes even worse than what it was before.

"I've even come across items I've bought twice."
I can't count how many times I've found multiple shirts, craft items, books, etc. that I've bought because I don't remember buying them or they've been stashed so well I just don't remember where I put them.

"It's all about the purchase.  That exquisite moment when the object of your desire suddenly becomes yours."
It starts off with a small thought.  It comes from nowhere -- that little voice that tells you, "Hey, you need this.....or you need that."  The voice is stronger than the self-control and I give in.  When I get into the store and see sale prices, I can literally feel my body have a reaction.....It's a SALE!  I can buy MORE!  And when I walk out of the store, I'm incredibly proud of myself for saving all that money...but then it's just a matter of minutes until I get home and the guilt starts to set in.  And the cycle starts all over again.

"I've even been known to fall for "purchasing for profit" schemes:  buying a load of stuff that I think I'll off-load at a later date, making wads of cash in the process."
I've definitely done this -- especially with books.  In the past, if I found a series of books, I'd buy them, thinking that I'd resale them -- on eBay usually.  But then they sit and sit and sit -- and then eventually end up in the Goodwill bin.  So much money wasted.

"Do I just face up to the fact that I'm ruining my life - and that of those closet to me - with the burden of debt?"     "But it's limiting Kevin's options too."
Not only is my own life ruined, but I'm ruining Hubby's life too.  Not too mention the example that I'm setting for my daughters.  We're limited because we can't afford it.  If we can't afford it, then we miss out.  And it's all my fault.

"I've been so buy trying to buy the life I think I should be living, that I can't afford to live the one I have."
In the worst of my compulsive spending, I would buy clothes and lots of them.  I would justify my spending telling myself that I needed them for work....I needed to look good.  Then I needed to buy maternity clothes and I needed to look cute.  Then I needed to buy post-pregnancy/mommy clothes.  But even in the worst of my compulsive spending - I rarely -- to almost never -- bought anything brand name.  Bottom line though was that I couldn't afford it ---- period.

"Learn a little self-control"
Why is such a simple concept so hard to grasp?  It's not hard to say no.  I say it to my kids all the time.  Maybe that's the problem -- I don't have anyone NOW telling me NO.  I AM the adult.  I AM the one making the decisions.  I've been trying to become more conscious and more aware of telling myself no.

"That must be the same skewed logic that stops me spending a few pounds to have boots reheeled because it's too pricey, but enables me to justify buying a new pair instead."
Wow - did this speak to me because it's so true.  I can't allow myself to spend money on a cut and color, but I can go out and drop money on craft supplies I don't need with money I don't have.

"Part of my problem seems to be that I feel I have to be rewarded for everything I do."
So true.  It's an inner dialogue I have with myself.  I accomplished this, so I can reward myself.  And I reward myself through shopping.