Inciting a Riot

A DA friend recently helped me see how I was creating unnecessary suffering for myself. While she wasn’t speaking about me in our conversation, her words seeped deep down inside me, creating a growing disturbance until I realized that I was doing the very thing she described. (Please bear with me as I walk you through the path to exactly what I mean.)
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A Debt is a Debt is a Debt

Recently, I’ve been hearing murmurings that some debts, like those for medical bills, don’t qualify as unsecured debt and shouldn’t impact our solvency date. Well, I think that’s kind of silly. Just because we don’t want to begin our “day count” over doesn’t mean that we delude ourselves into thinking that an unsecured debt doesn’t count as one.
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A History Lesson

I started reading the new edition of the Currency of Hope, the Debtors Anonymous book describing its program of recovery and containing stories of recovery. I began reading the chapter covering the history of Debtors Anonymous. I’ve read this information before, but this time, I had a revelation.

If you don’t know DA’s history, it’s quite interesting. The original members had a very hard time figuring out the bottom line of our addiction. They thought, at various times, the problem was due to a lack of saving, will power, and more. But despite trying a variety of methods to address the addiction, such as committing to daily deposits into savings accounts, members were not recovering.
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Can You Relate to This?

I came across this post on a blog called “Plenty of Time, Money, and Love,” and it was so raw, honest, and true for me that I couldn’t breathe when I read it. The shame we experience. The self-flagellation. The dishonesty. The manipulation.

We cannot outwit this disease. It will always catch up with us until we get willing to get sober. Kudos to this member in recovery. It takes a lot of courage to face the truth.

Here is the post: I am a Debt Addict

StyleCaster.com Article on “Online Shopping Addiction”

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.”
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“One Member, One Action” Day to Celebrate DA’s Anniversary

The DA World Service Conference Public Information Committee and the World Service Conference Diversity Caucus are suggesting a “One Member, One Action” day on April 15 to celebrate its anniversary. It’s really just a reminder to make a conscious effort to practice one Step Twelve action on this day. The emphasis is on newcomers, so maybe you could reach out to a newcomer on the phone or at a meeting.

I’m going to reprint the article from the Ways and Means Quarter 1, 2015 issue below. Click here to access the entire issue (PDF file).

One Member, One Action Day: Carrying the Message of D.A. on April 15

The founders of Debtors Anonymous (D.A.) established our Fellowship on April 15 – a day many in the United States fear because tax returns are due. The choice of date made a statement that this 12 Step program would be a spiritual solution for creating prosperous lives, unencumbered by fear.

To commemorate the Fellowship’s founding, a growing number of D.A. members participate in One Member, One Action Day on April 15 each year. On this day, we collectively practice Step Twelve with each member taking one action to carry the message of recovery. Groups may also act together, choosing an action and/or actions as suggested in Tradition Five: “Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the debtor who still suffers.”

When newcomers arrive (and they will when you Carry the Message), help them feel welcome. Ask for their number and call them. The World Service Conference Public Information Committee and the World Service Conference Diversity Caucus invite you to practice these actions on One Member, One Action Day, April 15, and beyond, as we begin to celebrate D.A.’s 40th Anniversary year!
—D.A. World Service Conference Public Information Committee

Budgets vs. Spending Plans

I just came across an article that perfectly describes the difference between a spending plan and a budget:

Why I Like Spending Plans Better than Budgets

We are blessed that our program recognizes that a budget won’t work for compulsive debtors and spenders, who rebel against deprivation. While we live within our means in D.A., how we do that is where the art of creating a spending plan comes into play. This is why it is wonderful that we have the tool of a PRG (pressure relief group), where two other recovering members meet with us to help us develop and maintain our spending plan, which can change with life circumstances. This team also keeps us from going to extremes either way — by allocating too much to our wants or or debts — helping us live a balanced financial life.

Hallelujah! Talking to Your Kids About Money

Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 190 days written!

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A new book just came out that encourages parents to rip away the cloak of secrecy around money. It’s called, “The Opposite of Spoiled,” by Ron Lieber, a columnist for the New York Times.

I’ve never really understood why money was such a taboo subject. But I suppose if I think about the shame I have suffered over my behavior with money, it is more understandable. However, I’ve seen many who were not addicts around money still keep tight-lipped, which makes it seem as if managing money is a mystical and mysterious skill. But the fact is that dealing with money is something we do nearly every day! If we don’t talk to our children about money in a personal way, how on earth are they expected to learn how to manage it when they grow up?
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“Must and Should”

I found this article charming and profound.

Granted, it’s talking about life passion and work, but the concept of should and must struck a chord in me. How does it relate to compulsive debtors and spenders?

For me, it’s about feeling that I SHOULD buy the biggest gift or pay for everyone’s dinner out. I SHOULD do that because what will they think of me if I don’t?

Today, I know that I MUST stay sober with money (i.e., not debt) if I want to live a life of integrity … and that may mean separate checks and a small present, or maybe no present at all if I don’t have the funds to purchase it.

This idea of what is expected by the world vs. what I know is the right path to take is powerful in many ways, but certainly true regarding my addiction. How I looked to the world (and my family, friends, and PARTICULARLY my son) often drove my spending.

The external world’s view, others’ expectations, my wrong thinking before recovery, are all examples of SHOULDS. Today, I can get messages from that still, small voice inside of me and I’m starting to listen. I thought the messages would be blared as from trumpets. But no. I get little nudgings that could easily be missed. So with each day of sobriety AND recovery, the easier it is to hear the quiet messages of MUST.

Let me know how you see this article relating to your recovery from compulsive debting.

The Crossroads of Should and Must