Why I Ignore Valentine’s Day and Why You Should Too!

I’m writing about Valentine’s Day in the hopes that I can convince those of you who fall under its twisted spell to see clearly through the deceptive veil that masks “the day of love.” As you may surmise, I’m not a fan. 

Now, bear in mind that this article is somewhat tongue in cheek, but only somewhat. I truly have disdain for this “Hallmark” holiday, which is, in fact, a trifecta of indulgence, a promotional conspiracy between the greeting card, jewelry, and floral industries to drive consumers into guilt spree spending. (By the way, this “holiday” has quite a violent past … but more about that in a moment).

If you don’t believe Valentine’s Day is a blatant manipulation by the industries mentioned above (along with anyone else who thinks they can find a way to get you to open your wallet in the name of love), here are some sickening Valentine’s Day spending statistics from an article called, “38 Surprising Valentine’s Day Statistics Marketers Will Love.”

Before I continue, I can hear you saying, “well, what about Mother’s Day?” To that, I say, wait until you have raised a teenager who is hormonally ungrateful and petulant 364 days a year, and you will understand why being guilt-driven on Mother’s Day, no matter how old you are, is a kindness and penance for those demonic years.

But I digress.

Bloody Beginnings

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Why I Didn’t Pay for My Son’s College Education

Even though I really, really wanted to.

Photo credit: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Photo credit: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Just wrote this article that was published yesterday in The Billfold.

I was preparing to send my son, whom I’ll call “Ben,” to college in the spring of 2009. It was my intention to pay his way so that he wouldn’t have to work and could focus on his studies. In fact, this was my solemn promise to him (and to myself) since he was a child. It was the best gift I could possibly give him… or so I thought.

Miraculously, I had managed to put all the tuition money away in a state-sponsored college fund. I say miraculously, because my propensity was to spend far beyond my means. So I felt pretty darned proud of myself, having made good on my promise despite my proclivities.

But when we actually began the process of selecting the school, I discovered that in-state tuition was just a fraction of the total college costs. I would have to cough up another $7,200 a year to cover housing, food, books, and other expenses!

That’s when I hit bottom.

Click here to read the whole article at The Billfold.

Losing Your Balance

Click here to listen on our podcast site, “I Cant Stop Spending!”

crackThe one thing I know from decades in 12-step recovery is that I can’t do this alone. “This” means anything I can’t otherwise stop doing compulsively or stop using as a mood-altering drug, from spending, eating, drinking, sexing, Interneting, raging, underearning, co-dependent-ing, adult child-ing, “you name it.”

And when I say alone, I’m talking about my need for help from other humans, not so much the relationship with a Higher Power (or HP), which is fundamental to recovery, but for me, a big part of attaining that spiritual relationship includes my turning to others for help as well as extending my own hand in support. The fact is, my HP most often speaks to me through other people. Continue reading

Gift Giving Guilt

Want to hear the podcast for this post?
Click here to listen on our podcast site “I Cant Stop Spending!”

conscientious5

The holidays are upon us. Well, almost. And I’m hoping this post will give you the space to pause before lurching into yet another December avalanche of spending you can’t afford because you feel guilty about only spending what you can.

Look, emotionally, I’m pretty much right with you. A big part of my compulsive spending was around gift-giving. Giving extravagant gifts really gets me high. Picking just the right and special and, of course, expensive item was the way I proved I love you or, at least, was the way you’d remember that I am a great gift giver.

And then, there are the office presents, or those that we feel we just “have” to buy even if we feel annoyed and resentful about doing so. Even then, we might sink into feeling competitive or just wanting to ensure we don’t look cheap compared to everyone else.

In recovery, we may still suffer with some of those feelings. But the difference is that we don’t act on them. When we fund our gift-giving categories, hopefully, beginning in January in the case of December holidays, and annually prior to birthdays, etc., we become clear about how much we will spend in total and fund each category with 1/12th of that amount each month. Then, when it’s time to buy the gift, we may still feel like it’s not good enough, but we can also find peace knowing that we are living within our means. Over time, as we practice giving gifts that are reasonable based on our income, the pain of not being the gift-giving big shot subsides.

So, I’m posting this on December 11, 2016. If you’re reading this today, you have two weeks until Christmas. Hanukkah begins on December 24th. I’m not sure when other gift-giving December holidays fall this year. But, if you’re like me, you have waited until now to begin the frenzied shopping that, I promise you, will not change the recipients’ life one bit. So, I urge you, before you enter the fray, which will, I promise you, cause you to not to think clearly around spending your money, please take some time now to make a list of all the gifts you need to buy.

Then, if you don’t have a spending plan, ask your Higher Power to help you be right-minded about how much you can afford. In fact, and this may sound shocking, I know, but ask your Higher Power if there is anyone on your list who really doesn’t need you to buy him or her a gift, someone who would prefer the gift of your time, a hand-written letter, or maybe a home cooked meal instead. Or maybe, a charitable contribution in honor of one or more people on your list would be far more beneficial than more stuff that they eventually feel a need to declutter and get rid of them.

Now, go back through that list and write next to each person either a maximum dollar amount you will spend or the more meaningful alternative you have chosen. Add up the amounts.
Now, this is where the rubber meets the road.

Ask yourself:
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10 Tips for (Sober) Holiday Gift Giving

One of the hardest aspects of recovery for many recovering compulsive debtors and spenders (especially newcomers) is putting the brakes on extravagant (i.e., expensive) gift giving, especially around the holidays. The idea that more is not only better, but required, is a part of our disease that is fueled by the media and even those around us (think kids who may have gotten used to feeding the “gimme gimme” monster).

We who are so used to being the big spender, especially around holidays, find our whole sense of self tied up with giving the biggest and best gifts. But if we are committed to recovery from compulsive debting and spending, then we get willing to sit through our discomfort as we actively live within our means around gift giving.

So here are 10 Tips to help you maintain your sobriety with money during the holidays: Continue reading

Annual Valentine’s Day Rant – 2015

Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 222 days written!

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If you read my previous Valentine’s Day post from 2014, you know that I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I think it’s a manipulation by greeting card companies, jewelry stores, florists, and anyone else who thinks they can get money out of you on this fake holiday with violent roots.

In my opinion, Valentine’s Day just makes singles feel lonely and couples feel guilty.

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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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