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I’ve often said that for a true compulsive spender, living in deprivation is a sure way to set off the compulsion. Now, that is not the same as living within one’s means, which may include not buying everything we want the moment we want it.
However, I stand by my belief and that of those in 12 step recovery from compulsive spending, that we do not put our creditors first. We do not live in abject deprivation in order to pay off our debts quicker.
Now, I know Dave Ramsey is one of the top gurus of personal finance and responsibility. I get it. However, as I’ve told you before, his philosophy is all well and good for everyone … except compulsive spenders.
The Experts Don’t Understand Us
I am grateful to report that I finally paid off the last of my debt a couple of weeks ago! This is truly a miracle. In the late 1990’s, I first came into DA with $22,000 in debt. I paid that off and found all kinds of reasons to justify leaving the program by 2001.
Fast forward to 2009. I crawled back into DA a broken person after accumulating approximately $34,000 of new unsecured debt and trying to figure out how on earth I would send my son off to college. DA HOW healed me, and one day at a time, I lived within my means and committed what I would spend before spending it. I had PRGs around my debt, paying for my son’s college, and any other financial issues that came up.
I just read an article from StyleCaster.com by Leah Bourne about what she calls “shopping addiction.” To begin with, I was quite sad that the author barely gave a nod to recovery, throwing in one line at the end about it, writing, “Looking into therapy or support groups is a good place to start.”
I just read the article “I had to Debt: A Debtor’s Myth” on page one of the second quarter of 2012 Ways and Means. It is without a doubt the clearest and finest expression of what it means to work this program successfully that I have ever read.
Reading this article changed my thinking about my recovery focus. I realize that paying down my existing debt is simply taking care of a symptom. The real measure of recovery in my program is how many days I have accrued not incurring NEW unsecured debt. For me, as of today, that number is 1,649.
Debtors Anonymous has a great pamphlet about communicating with creditors. Here is the description:
Communicating with Creditors and Debt Repayment
This combination of two formerly separate pamphlets outlines D.A.’s experience in dealing with creditors and repaying them in a spiritual, recovery based way. Addresses how to work through fears, ask for help, use debt moratoriums, make and keep commitments, and meet your needs as well as those of creditors.
Item #P-130 $1.20
It is an exceptional pamphlet and every DA member should read it for suggestions on how to deal with this most difficult of issues in our program.