Thursday, 4 February 2016
Stop Crumbling, Start Kicking!
It seems to me, that when pretty much anything crap happens in life you have two choices. You can either crumble and let it beat you - or you can step up and kick it in the ass. Sometimes it can take a while to stop crumbling and start kicking. And sometimes, such as in the case of illness, things truly are beyond your control. But on the whole, when it comes to most things - money going down the gurgler, relationships coming to an end, loss of something or someone; whatever, how you react, how you bounce back and how you survive from here on is up to you. One thing is certain - good or bad, there is always something to be learned from it.
I've been awake since 3.30 this morning, paying off debts in my head - trying to visualise how I can do it (particularly when there's nothing to spare), how long it will take and ticking them all off mentally in my head, imagining how good it's going to feel, getting rid of the blasted things one at a time until there's no more left. I can credit two triggers with changing me from a crumbler to a kicker this week - one is Simple Savings, the other is my bank.
The bank want to help me you see. I'm not sure how they plan to do this yet and I'm not sure who was more surprised to hear this, me or my bank manager. But despite the fact that things look nothing short of disastrous on paper, they don't want to take my house from me. At least, not yet. I have around six months to try and turn things around. I'm not sure if I can do it because at the moment, I simply don't have enough to make a difference. I have to turn my negative balance into a positive balance with enough surplus to pay off all my arrears as well. But if they're willing to give me a chance, I have to give it my best shot. I have to start doing some serious ass-kicking.
The first thing I had to do after meeting with the bank this week was pick up the phone to all the people I owe money to. All the ones whose letters and phone calls I had been ignoring, whose bills had gone unpaid by anything from two to six months. It took me six hours to contact everyone. Yeah, there were a lot. The list was endless and I dreaded each one but I was amazed to find that everyone I spoke to actually cared (or if they didn't, they did a bloody good job of sounding like they did) and wanted to help. As I progressed down the list I found myself being offered two months free this, three months suspended payments on that - and I realised that shit must happen to people all the time and that's why they have these things in place. All they ask for is that customers communicate - which I've always known but was too busy crumbling to communicate with anyone. Now, whilst I still have to pay everything back, at least I have a bit of breathing space and I feel like I have regained a smidgeon of control. I still feel like a failure - but not as much of a failure.
Gareth came home later that afternoon and I cried all over him. Poor bloke, must have been lovely to come home to! I try not to cry very often but even though the day had been so productive, the whole process had been exhausting. The bank also got me to write a new budget and although it was good to know exactly where I was at, seeing the enormity of the task at hand and the money I had to find was nothing short of overwhelming. Still, I know what I have to do now - I just need to come up with a way to do it and whilst I felt overwhelmed, I didn't feel down or despairing. The hardest part is over. Now it's time for the fun part, kicking those debts into oblivion!
Until the other day, I hadn't been a member of Simple Savings for over a year and I wonder now how much NOT being part of it possibly affected me financially during the past 12 months. It's not that I don't know what to do to save money; I still know more about that stuff than pretty much anyone I know - and so I should! It's the motivation side of things; the constant focus and being in the presence of like minded people that is really pushing my buttons now. We cheer each other on, we commiserate with one another and most of all we inspire one another. In just over a week of being back, I have read many stories of people such as the 22 year old who was $52,000 in debt until she joined Simple Savings. Six months down the track she has reduced that debt by $18,000! Or the 39 year old woman who was so determined to buy her own house before she was 40 that she has managed to save $60,000 in less than three years. Or the long-time Simple Savings legend Shane O'Donnell who was one of the first people to inspire me by sharing how she reduced her debts by $30,000 in one year. That's real ass-kicking stuff. That's the kind of thing I want to do.
Saying that, I don't think any of these ladies have teenagers. It must be a hell of a lot easier to save money when you don't have to worry about anyone else and can just focus on yourself. If it was just me I could exist happily on beans on toast and save a shitload too! But it's not just the stories, it's the ideas too. One of the reasons I couldn't sleep last night was because I was imagining myself paying a little extra off each debt every night online, by rounding off whatever was in my account. By this I mean, say at the end of the day I had $519 in my bank. Jeez, now I am dreaming, but for explanation's sake imagine I did, I would pay that $19 into one of my debts, so that even though I'm already paying them a set amount each month, I'd be paying it off faster using all those little 'leftover' bits here and there. The next day I might only have $412 but again I would chuck that $12 into something else. After all, we all know how much those little bits add up! To me it seems a painless way of getting ahead faster and is something I really want to do.
Every time I jump on Simple Savings it makes me think more about what more I can be doing, or things I used to do which I've forgotten. It's stopping me from crumbling and keeping me kicking.