26.3.08

Shop till you drop dead or Making money your master not a servant

I think lack of understanding about personal finances is a large source of family problems now a days. Very few people are willing to openly talk about their finances or debts. This, I think lead to financial illiteracy, big time. I realize t his as I was making a research on the different styles of personal financial management.

What stucked like a sore thumb to me, was a site called Debtors Anonymous (DA). DA works in much the same way as Alcoholics Anonymous, dealing with people who are essentially compulsive debtors and helping them get over their “addiction”. DA helps debt addicts recover from this malady called overspending. Compulsive spending - is it an illness? I need not talk about its psychological implications here, a professional counsellor would be required to do that.

One thing sure though, it needs to be addressed.

If you believe you know someone close who is in this difficult life situation, I am sure you will recognize the following lifestyle or practices:

1. Frequently unclear about financial situation, not knowing account balances, monthly expenses, loan interest rates, fees, fines, or contractual obligations.

2. Borrow items such as books, pens, or small amounts of money from friends and others, but fail to return them.

3. Possess unclear saving habits, with practically no mention or thought about planning for taxes, retirement or other non-recurring but predictable items, but often feel surprised when the items come due? "Live for today, don't worry about tomorrow" attitude.

4. A compulsive shopper, being unable to pass up a "good deal"? Make impulsive purchases, but leave price tags on clothes so they can be returned. Often, fail to use items purchased.

5. Difficulty in meeting basic financial or personal obligations but display an inordinate sense of accomplishment when able to meet such obligations.

6. Seem to feel happier when paying through credit displaying emotions or actions of belonging to club, of being accepted, or of being a grown up. Do not necessarily feel good paying in cash.

7. Life is in chaos and drama due to money issues. Often use one credit card to pay another and often subject to bouncing checks or always having a financial crisis to contend with.

8. Tendency to live on the edge, living paycheck to paycheck, taking risks with health and car insurance coverage, writing checks hoping money will appear to cover them.

9. Have an unwarranted inhibition and embarrassment in what should be a normal discussion of money.

10. Overworking or under earning, working extra hours to earn money to pay creditors or using time inefficiently, taking jobs below skill and education level.

11. Possess an unwillingness to care for and value self, live in self-imposed deprivation or perhaps denying basic needs in order to pay creditors.

12. Feel hopeful that someone will come to the rescue if necessary, a “savior” who would take you away any serious financial trouble or, that there will always be someone to turn to.

Thanks to this site where I read up.