When thinking about the physical part of my recovery from compulsive debting and spending — tracking my spending — I cannot think of two words that bring me more peace.
In April, I celebrated six years of back to back abstinence from compulsive debting. But it has become clear to me recently that I am still a seriously compulsive spender. And I now truly understand why the primary purpose of Debtors Anonymous (DA) is not incurring unsecured debt.
If we just never had to spend money again, we wouldn’t have a problem, right? But unfortunately, we must learn to forge a new relationship with money that doesn’t include incurring unsecured debt. As I’ve written before, we must walk the razor’s edge.
If you don’t know about “The Retention department,” you are missing out on savings for services many of us use. The Retention department is the last stop when you are going to leave your current cable, Internet, or phone provider. You can actually request to speak to someone in this department, and I have saved a lot of money over the years by negotiating with them.
So, here’s what happened the other day. The promotions on our current services were about to expire. Our services were going to go from about $160/month (a ridiculous amount to pay) to CHOKE, GASP — $250 (an obscene amount to pay)!
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.)
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.
I’m writing about Valentine’s Day early because I’m hoping to help those of you who fall under its twisted spell to see clearly through the deceptive veil that masks “the day of love.”
Now, bear in mind that this post 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 florist industries to drive consumers into guilt spree spending.
Yesterday, four cents was the tool the Debt Devil used to lure me back into disease behavior. Four lousy cents.
I was at the craft store using up the remainder of my discretionary money for the month. I had the chenille needles in hand for my current project and a $.69 piece of needlework canvas for fun.
Knowing I was limited, I humbly informed the young sales woman that my purchase couldn’t exceed $2.28. But I felt pretty sure I had enough money for both items, so I thought my willingness was really just for show (ego rears its ugly head).
She looked at me a bit confused, but proceeded to ring up my order.
I heard this expression for the first time yesterday and loved it. Boy, how true that is. When I hear about others’ miracles in DA, it gives me hope. As a newcomer, I had to have faith that miracles would happen for me. And they have.
But there came a day in my recovery when I was faced with the fact that money is finite. A day when I had no more money in a discretionary category, like Clothing or Entertainment, for the rest of the month because I had spent it all. A day that has repeated itself over and over in my four plus years of recovery in DA HOW. Days where I must sit with the pain of delaying gratification.
I had written a post last year about how to do the Fresh Start in YNAB, but I just went through the process and it’s entirely different now. I actually just deleted my old post as it is no longer relevant.
There is really no need to create a new file for the current year.
It is so different and I am not at all happy with the new process now. Unfortunately, I cannot write a new instructional post tonight. Let me just say that if you do decide to make a Fresh Start, you will have to:
- Manually enter all your balances into each account
- Delete all the uncleared transactions before your make the fresh start and enter them into the newly created file.
- If you want to rename the file, you must do it through YNAB’s File menu.
Seriously, I think I will just keep going on instead of creating a new file for 2014. I still love these guys, but this was not a change for the better, as far as I’m concerned!
Free Training from YNAB
By the way, if you are new to YNAB, they are having a teaching marathon tomorrow. There is no charge for classes. Here is the email I received today:
Let us help you ring in the New Year! We’re running classes all day and into the evening on January 1st beginning at 9am EST (US). Our awesome team of teachers is ready to help YOU start the year off right. Nail budgeting this year, and all those other resolutions come true!*
We’re focusing on two classes on New Years Day: Getting Started and Starting Over. Oh, and we’ll give away some software and t-shirts too. Everyone wins the best prize: peace of mind in starting 2014 on the right track.
Sign up now!
Wishing you all a wonderful, abstinent new year!
For many years in my other 12 step program, I went to meetings, spoke to people, but never took the Big Book seriously. Didn’t really read or study it. It was kind of there, on the side. It wasn’t until I understood that the Big Book contains the instructions, the “meat” of the program, and began to seriously study and follow the directions that my recovery gained traction.
In DA, the Big Book is just as important for the reasons outlined above. But so, too, is my spending plan. In it is the outline for how I spend (and save) my money. I consider my spending plan Divinely inspired as it was developed not just by me, but with the loving guidance of more than one pressure relief group team over the years.