Resisting that Irresistible Urge to Spend

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

Image by George Hodan

Image by George Hodan

Recently, I came across an article about a woman in the U.K. who had to keep a backlog of rent money because there were issues with the property owners being unable to set up a bank account for rent. The article said:

The problem [with the rent money] was only alerted to Ms Bracher upon [her] contacting the company in May, and it has been unable to tell her when the situation is likely to be resolved.

Ms. Bracher has a history of mental health and compulsive spending problems, and she is concerned she will be unable to resist using the accumulating rent for other purposes.

She said: “I have told Network Housing that I am in danger of spending the money and that it is causing a great deal of anxiety having the money in my account, but they do not seem to care.

As a result, I am not sleeping properly and it is having a massive effect on my day-to-day life and health.

They have put me in a vulnerable position as they cannot tell me when the problem will be resolved and I cannot cope much longer.”

Wow! I can sure relate to that. I clearly remember those days when having a pile of money accumulating in my checking account was gasoline poured on the fire of my compulsion to spend.

But I must say that I am awed by Ms. Bracher’s honesty and integrity around this matter. She reached out to them. And she had clear self-awareness of her problem. That buildup of pressure when we accumulate money is all too familiar to me.
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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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Debt-Free at Last!

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.
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Web-Based YNAB: My (Long) In-Depth QA Review

If you are a follower of this blog, you know that I am absolutely in love with YNAB software for managing my spending plan. YNAB stands for “You Need a Budget.” It has been a magical solution for many of us working a recovery program as it is an easy to use, virtual envelope system.

Their newest offering appeared just a few days ago. It is a web-based, subscription version that is intended to replace YNAB 4, which lives on your computer and can be saved in DropBox so you can work on it across all your devices through their Android and Apple apps.
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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

Recorded YNAB for DA Members Workshop (Accounts)

The workshop went very well and I’m so excited that the recording worked! Now, aside from my sounding like Daffy Duck, I’m hopeful that this recording can help anyone, even a complete beginner. I really tried to keep it simple and resolve the issues that seem to be problematic for DA members.

Total time is 1:21 (one hour and 21 minutes). The great part is that you can stop and rewind as needed.
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REMINDER! YNAB for DA Members Workshop Tomorrow

I will be conducting a free conference call tomorrow (Sunday, 11/8/15) from 2:00 PM EST to 3:30 PM EST to walk you through the Register portion of using YNAB. This workshop is specifically geared toward the tasks DA members need.

No need to register; just call in! 2:00 PM EST to 3:30 PM EST
If you cannot make it, I will HOPEFULLY be able to record the call and will post it later, so you can follow along at your convenience.

Here is the call-in information:
Dial-in Number: (641) 715-3580
Access Code: 479117

International callers
Click here for a PDF with associated country numbers.

What you will need

* A working copy of YNAB on your computer.
* Pen and paper to take notes

You can either work in your existing YNAB spending plan or create a new plan along with me for the workshop. NOTE: YNAB calls it a “budget,” so I will use that terminology though we know ours is a spending plan! 🙂

Here is the Agenda:

  1. Walkthrough to create a new budget
  2. Where to save your YNAB Spending Plan
  3. Auto-download transactions or not?
  4. Setting up on and off budget accounts
  5. Entering transactions with and without a check number
  6. Transferring between accounts
  7. Dealing with cash
  8. Splitting transactions
  9. Scheduling recurring transactions
  10. Reconciling with your bank account (CRUCIAL!)

There will definitely be time for questions.

If people find this helpful, there will be a second workshop dealing with the spending plan side of YNAB for DA members.

Hope to “see” you there tomorrow!