037: A Perfect Day for Recovery & Inspirational Reading 12/24 “Breaking the Cycle”

In this Episode


00:50 It’s a Perfect Day for Recovery
You don’t have to wait until January 1st to begin your recovery from compulsive spending! I tell you why today (a week before Christmas and Hanukkah) is the absolutely perfect day to begin!

Read the post for this podcast on our sister site: Getting Out from Going Under

08:29 Inspiration from the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: December 24th: “Breaking the Cycle”

Resources Mentioned in this Podcast Episode

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Post: A Perfect Day for Recovery


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As I write this, it’s a little over a week before Christmas and Hanukkah. And it came to me that it’s the perfect day to begin a recovery program or to re-commit to recovery around compulsive spending. What better time to let your addiction know that you mean business then to affirm your commitment in the midst of the frenzied spending around the holidays.

In fact, if you suffer from any addiction, now is the time to get the help you need to become and stay sober or abstinent or clean or solvent or authentic or whatever describes your addiction. This is the season of excess, whether it’s food, money, sex, alcohol, people-pleasing, anxiety, sadness, anger, or whatever else you are powerless over.

I’ll tell you why this came up for me today. I attend a Debtors Anonymous (DA) meeting where we read and share on DA pamphlets. This week, while working through the Recovery from Compulsive Spending pamphlet, we read and discussed “suggestions that have helped many D.A. members recover from the pain of compulsive spending.” (from the pamphlet)

It was when we read this bullet point that I had my epiphany! “Attend D.A. meetings regularly for group support to counteract advertising and other societal pressures to spend and debt.”

Now, I’ve long heard people in various programs talk about the importance of attending meetings so we can give back what we’ve so generously been given, and how newcomers need meetings to really understand how 12 Step programs work and to develop a network of support.

But I’d never thought about meetings as a tool and a defense against the consumer marketing monster and societal messages urging us to spend money. And when is there more pressure on people for such a sustained period to buy, buy, buy as the lead up to Christmas, Hanukkah, and other December holidays? So when would there be a better time to get support than when the clock is ticking down to frenzied gift buying during this holiday season? You can make a commitment to recovery from compulsive spending to keep you sober with money now, today, not next week or next year.

Sure, there are other holidays where we feel pressured to buy. Never mind the other days that give us an opportunity to practice love, consideration, and giving of ourselves. I’m thinking of all those stupid Hallmark holidays that insist that the only way to show your mother or father you love them is to buy them an extravagant gift you probably can’t afford, which must be given to them on a particular Sunday in May or June in order to count.

Then there’s the message that you’d better give a big fat piece of jewelry to someone on a random day in February along with chocolate and flowers or someone will be hurt and believe you don’t love him or her. (don’t get me started about Valentine’s Day and where that holiday came from! Here is a link to an article I wrote about that.)

And, of course, there’s the Friday after Thanksgiving. But I’ve already covered why that’s the day for amateur spenders in this article, so you don’t need to bother even revving up your engines.

But the month of December is the granddaddy of spectacular spending pressure … because it starts in November! And there are so many gifts we think we need to buy. For compulsive spenders, once we make that first out of control or “I have to or they’ll be upset” purchase, we don’t know where it will end. But it’s usually not a happy ending. So why not stop it now?

You don’t have to wait until January 1st to make the decision and commitment to recover from compulsive spending. You can start today. Yes, you can.

Now, I’m about to say something shocking.

Are you ready?

You could cut up all your credit cards and cancel all the accounts today (or even just one account).

Oh no, I just heard a collective gasp from you all.

OK, breathe.

I realize you are probably going to need help to accomplish that step. I’m just saying you could do it in theory. Listen, I’m not suggesting you run a marathon today, but you can start by taking a walk around the block today. You can start by asking for help with your addiction.

You can get support to help you have a sober holiday season this year. There’s nothing magical about January 1st. People in recovery don’t make a list of resolutions once a year because we recommit to our recovery every day.

In fact, if you begin now, you can start to work on your spending plan for next year, so that you won’t be scrambling around holiday spending next December.

That’s why I say that there’s no better day for recovery than today. Stand up to your disease and you can have an army of support behind you.

Remember, there is no need to hit a bottom any lower than the one you’ve already hit. You can choose today to be Day One of recovery. There are many who have been just where you are who are waiting and wanting to help you. You may not know it yet, but there’s also an arsenal of tools available to support you.

If you are suffering from feeling beaten down by your compulsive spending, and know that you are just winding up to create more out of control debt during this holiday season, why not give 12 Step recovery a try? Both Debtors Anonymous and Underearners Anonymous have many phone meetings, which are incredibly convenient, as well as lots of live meetings.

Yes, I know that there is not just one road to recovery. But this is a road I have personally walked and I paid off over $34,000 of debt in seven years and I am still living within my means today (just one day at a time). And, just so you know, I only attend phone meetings. Plus, 12 Step Fellowships are 100% free for members.

All the help you need is just waiting for you to walk through the door or pick up the phone. It is offered freely and given to you with love. And it is available today and every day you want it, one day at a time.

Gift Giving Guilt

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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:

Can I really afford this total this year?

This is where I urge you to examine your motives and your finances. If your gut clenches, or you start shaking, or you can’t breathe when you look at that total, then I maintain you already know the answer. Now is the moment to look at your bank account and determine what that total realistically should be in order for you to live within your means and ensure your needs will still be met.

So, go back through that list and subtract from each one so that the total of gift spending fits the total dollar amount you can afford.

Make a phone call if you need support. Get some tissues and cry your eyes out if this process makes you feel sad and ashamed. But keep moving forward. Because the truth is that there is no shame or sadness in being honest with yourself about what is reasonable to spend. That is the disease of compulsive spending trying to confuse your brain. If anyone judges whether you care for them or not based on the dollar amount of a gift, then it may be time to reassess that relationship. And if children have an expectation of material gifts that exceeds your ability to buy them, and especially if you are worried about disappointing them, it may be time to have a meaningful and honest talk with them.

This holiday season, practice conscious and conscientious spending. Give yourself the gift of coming out of this season with no debt and no fear that you cannot pay January’s bills. Then, start the process of creating a spending plan for next year around all presents: birthdays, anniversary, holidays, even think about possible unknowns like if someone is hospitalized, gets married, or has a baby at the end of the year. Follow this advice, and you will be happy, joyous, and free when it comes time to buy and give these gifts to those you love.

036: Gift Giving Guilt & Inspirational Reading 12/15 “Holiday Gift Pressure”

In this Episode

00:47 Gift Giving Guilt
You still have time to keep from creating a mountain of debt around holiday gift giving. I’m here to give you a pep talk and some tips on how to make it through without creating financial chaos.

Read the post for this podcast on our sister site: Getting Out from Going Under

06:00 Inspiration from the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: December 15th: “Holiday Gift Pressure”

Music Attribution

“Life of Riley” (Intro and Outro), “Carpe Diem,” “Christmas Rap” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/


Help with Your Spending Plan

I can help you overcome the fear of looking at your numbers, create the foundation for your spending plan, and provide one-on-one technical help to teach you how to use your spending plan software. Click here to read how I can help you with your spending plan

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