Often, when talking to people about the work I do, I tell them that I help people clear their credit card debt once and for all and never have to use a credit card again. For many that sounds like the definition of impossible! They have cleared their debt before, often many times, and know that it just goes back up again.
20284370_s
Then, when I tell them about the process I use and explain that, if possible, I will get them to commit to not using their credit card at all until I see them next time, I see the horrified looks and panic setting in!

The reason for this is that, like so many people, their credit card is their security blanket! It’s what stands between them and financial disaster if the car breaks down, the child needs orthodontic work, the dog needs surgery, Christmas arrives, someone has a birthday, friends ask them out for dinner, they need a holiday etc etc! It is where they go for “money” when all else fails. I know this, I have done this, more times than I care to remember, but I also knows that it doesn’t work and only makes the situation worse.

I am not going to go into all the other reasons people use credit cards, like air points etc and the reasons why it is better and cheaper to use debit cards or better still cash! Today I am just talking about using them as your back up plan! I have been a bit facetious above with the “emergencies” people use their credit cards for, but I have either given them myself or heard them, and more, many times when people have told me that they only use them for emergencies.

Now, if you are reading this and thinking “but I do only use them for emergencies and then immediately pay them off in full” then fine. Whilst I do think that there is a better way, this message is not primarily for you, but read on because you might be interested in how you could do it differently.

I then go on to explain how I help them save their way out of debt, once and for all!  Doesn’t that sound good? Too good to be true? Not at all. If you follow the method which I teach you, which was developed by Karen McCall of the Financial Recovery Institute, that is exactly what you can do. I never ask people to cut up their credit cards, nor put them in a container of water in the freezer, I just ask them to trust the process, which has worked for thousands and thousands of people, and not use their credit cards until they see me again. As Karen says, “ if you want to get out of a hole, first you must stop digging”!

The other key steps are to pay the minimum on your credit card each month whilst building up a savings account, which we call a Periodic Savings account. Now I can hear all of you with financial backgrounds or those who pay off your credit cards in full every month, exclaiming that this will cost extra because of the interest. Yes, you are right but if you are someone who constantly uses your credit card and can never manage to always pay if off in full every month, then, trust me, this is a much cheaper way in the long run. Remember I teach you how to pay if off, in full, once and for all and to never have credit card debt ever again.

That’s because the Periodic Savings account becomes your security blanket; it’s where you go to get the money to pay the dentist, the vet, the restaurant, the holiday and Christmas! Using a formula I teach you, you can plan for all these and more, and know that you will always have the money available to cover all these events, without having to bring out the credit card. Once this is functioning well we also start another account which we call a “Safety Net” account and here you provide for coverage of all your expenses if you were to have an interruption in income.

So, if you would like to learn how to save your way out of debt, once and for all, use one of the methods below to contact me and we can have a coffee and discuss it further, to see if I can help you.

I’d love your comments about all of this and feel free to share it with your friends either by email or socially below.

Have a great week everyone and give it a try… Can you manage to not use your credit card for the next week?

Advertisements

Sally Feinerman

Have you ever wondered just what a Money Coach does? If you have, well you are certainly not on your own! It is the number 1 question I get asked! Here comes an explanation:

Recently one of my clients, the inspirational Sally Feinerman, from www.fitnessfix.co.nz, made me a very generous offer. I could blog about her journey to financial clarity and simply having a better grasp on her finances, both personal and financial.

This is the first part of that story.

JP :- So Sally, can you tell me what drew you to seeking my help with your finances?

SF:- “Well I’m very goal driven and I wanted to be really clear about my finances so that I could set some goals. I had some debt with an overdraft, which I wanted to pay off. I also wanted to get my credit card bill under control. Basically, you actually helped me pay it off altogether. Also I went from having three credit cards to just one. I now only use it for my business. This has been so fantastic. My spending is now much more in the moment, rather than retrospective. Now, I am much more conscious of what I am spending and whether or not I can afford something. Before I just put it on the credit card and dealt with it later. So the really great thing is, that now it looks as though I will have all my debt paid off this year, which is just fantastic! It also looks as though I will be able to start saving this year and have a safety net, which is just awesome. So I just feel that I will be really on top of my finances and knowing exactly where I’m sitting. I think that the discipline of going online and updating my MoneyMinder, every day just shows me visually what I’m spending and that really helps me as well. Also with my spending plan, when I do spend money I don’t feel guilty about it. I had planned to buy that and the money has already been allocated for it and is sitting there ready. Rather than if you don’t know what you are spending then you always feel kind of guilty about spending.

JP:- also, equally, even if you did spend on something that you hadn’t planned it has a great mechanism, which allows you to go back and revise the plan to account for that purchase and still stay within the plan and not go into debt.

SF:- Yes, I find that when I have done my spending plan, I know that if I stick to it , this is where I’ll be at the end of the month. If I don’t spend it all I can also see how that will make me better off.

JP:- Do you update your spending plan most days?

SF:- Yes, I do. At the beginning I did a 30 day challenge where I had to do 5 things for 30 days and 1 of them was my MoneyMinder. So that got me into a really good habit of doing it everyday. I like to get up and just do it in the morning. I also find if I do it everyday it takes no time at all to do. We’ve just been away for a long weekend, with out internet access, so it took me a bit longer this morning!

JP:- In Financial Recovery we talk a lot about conscious spending and many of my clients say that the thing they most value about the process is how aware of their spending they’ve become. Did you find this?

SF:-Yes absolutely. We find we are making different choices too. We have just been away for a long weekend  road trip and instead of eating out all the time we made lots of our own food and had picnics etc. We just loved it. It saved us money, but also we were enjoying nature and could stop and eat where and when we liked.

JP:- we use the term “spending plan” rather than “budget” as it tends to have a more positive connotation. Just as in Weightwatchers – they use food plan rather than diet for the same reason. When I was at the peak of my overspending, if anyone mentioned that I should be on  a budget, I heard deprivation. That I was going to have stuff taken away from me. Since I have been on the Financial Recovery programme I don’t feel that, as I can choose to spend my money on anything I want. It’s my choice. As Mikelann Valtera says “you can have anything you want but not everything you want”, but it’s your choice! Did you have any sense of being  deprived when you started on this programme?

SF:- In the beginning, to be perfectly honest, I probably did, but I think now we do need to question what we spend. We have become such a consumer society that when you look at life more holistically as well and get back to grassroots you don’t need half of the stuff you go and buy and so I have to say that I don’t now and it is more rewarding now to look forward and see where I’m going rather than to look back and think about what I might be missing out on.

JP:- Fantastic. It is really key to have some mechanism that draws you away from the negative behaviour. It is great when, like you, people can have goals and focus on the positive even if it is further in the future, rather than the deprivation.

SF:-If you can get yourself into, or see yourself getting into, the positive that is really good. If you have done all the planning and tracking and can see your progress you can see where you are going and be looking forward to that.

JP:- The other thing which is very linked to that is..well I’ll give you a hypothetical situation. What if you were walking along somewhere and you saw a really nice top or dress or pants that you really liked, but you had not planned to buy any clothes this month? Can you tell me how you might deal with that situation? Or how it might be different from how it would have been before?

SF:- Well, before I probably would have just got them anyway, if I really liked them. Now I would have to justify them to myself, that I could afford them or that I had them on my plan. If they weren’t on the plan then I wouldn’t get them.

JP:- that’s very good. Don’t let me put words into your mouth here, but before might you have just got them and put the expenditure onto your credit card if you couldn’t afford them at the time?

SF:- Yes, absolutely.

JP:- You said at the beginning that you are only using one credit card now. Has that made a real difference?

SF:- absolutely. I think that just knowing what I spend every day rather than just spending and then dreading the credit card bill coming in at the end of the month and then going “Oh my God, look how much money I spent last month!” Knowing that I’ve got to pay it and sort of being in fear of that bill coming in. Now that only one bill comes in a month and I know what I have spent because I have recorded it all, it’s never a shock.

JP:- Thanks for that Sally. I think that next time we should talk about how you now deal with things that come outside the normal monthly expenditure. I know, for example, that you have recently had a big overseas holiday. It will be really interesting to find out how you handled that and if it was any different from how you would have done it before.

Thanks, Sally, this has been really great. It will be useful for others who might be wondering how the process of working with me goes and if it’s for them.

 

Have you ever opened your credit card bill and been absolutely shocked at how much it is? Worse still, have you ever been too scared to open it, knowing you were going to be shocked? How about going into your wallet and going “where did that $100/$200/$300 etc go?  We call this being in the “money fog”! Essentially not having any clue how much money we are spending or have spent.

The money fog is almost always worse when we’re using credit cards, because the spending is often unconscious. In other words, you don’t really have to think about it, you just hand over your card without even considering what the balance already is. Provided you’re not at your limit you can easily do a day of retail therapy, or compulsive shopping, without giving the total amount spent another thought! You can just shop until you drop! Whilst you can also be in the money fog when using cash or debit cards, reality is closer at hand! You will either run out of money, need another trip to the money machine, or your debit card or EFT POS card will be rejected. Your spending therefore has to be, if not completely , at least partially, conscious.

Conscious spending is being aware of, not only how much you’re spending, but also being aware of what you’re buying! Do you really need it, or have you just seen it and want it, RIGHT NOW?

I know that when I was at the peak of my overspending, I could have a day out shopping without giving a thought to how much it was costing, or if I really needed what I was buying. As I was a very regular Internet banker ( I had to be, to keep juggling my money!) my shocks at how much I’d spent came pretty early on!  The unneeded purchases were often obvious very early on too! I might have “needed” a painting but did I need ten?

As the reasons you overspend, or shop compulsively, are many and, often, complex there isn’t a quick cure. However, if you only use cash or debit cards, the harm you can do is minimised. The other key is tracking your spending, that is, write every single cent you spend down.

If you are concerned about your spending or any of this, please seek help. The Financial Recovery℠ Institute has a list of counselors http://www.financialrecovery.com/?p=find-by-area. If you cannot find one in your area I, and a lot of my colleagues, offer counseling by phone or via Skype.

Do you have a story of being too scared to open your credit card bill? Please share it with us below in the comments section.

I have been a bit under the weather for the past couple of weeks and really have been unable to do very much at all.

It has been incredibly frustrating, because I had so much planned for that time, and now am not sure when I’ll get it all done.

However, the one thing I did do, was keep track of my spending, which as a former overspender is very important. It was pretty boring spending too! Doctors, xrays and food pretty much did it. For one who used to love to buy shoes and jewellery , (my favourite compulsive shopping items) it was pretty unexciting.

I am proud that I didn’t buy myself a treat, (because I deserved it) because I was feeling so lousy! The “I deserve it” used to be a pretty common excuse for my shopping addiction.

So, I remain on track with my spending and know just where my money has gone – and believe me a lot of it has gone – because I’ve been tracking it in my MoneyMinderR.

Now what’s left is for me to get back on track with my work. This has been a good start!

Pohutukawa - NZ Christmas Tree or Antipodean Holly

Tracking, tracking, tracking!!!

Like most people are you planning not to overspend this holiday season? Have you made elaborate plans to keep the spending within $XX?

Done your shopping? If not the panic may be setting in! Is it? If it is, the problem now is, that if you can’t find the gift you want or can afford, you reach for the credit card and buy something more expensive, and at least now you can cross

Dad/Mum/Granny/mother-in-law-who-has-everything, off the list and get out of the mall! Sound familiar? It’s really compulsive spending but needn’t be a game breaker!

Whilst I don’t advocate using your credit card (spoilsport that I am!) that isn’t where the damage is done…really! It’s when you don’t keep track of what you’ve spent and adjust your plan accordingly.

We’re all getting stressed and slightly frantic, especially here downunder, where not only is it Christmas and year end, but the kids are off school until February (sorry if you didn’t want reminding!) and many of us are going on summer holidays. No wonder we all get frantic. I also forgot to mention that it is summer and hot (well occasionally at least) and not really that suited to shopping, planning and cooking big meals!! So we’re all getting tired and when we are,it is much more likely that we let our plans go out the window and over spend to get it done, get it off the list, or purely and simply to make life easier! Eating out, takeaways etc etc and more alcohol!! All of which can be expensive but again, if we’re keeping track of our spending and adjusting accordingly, not game breakers!

I’m not saying it is simple or easy, but if you make a plan, and then dedicate 10-20 minutes every morning or evening, to work out what you spent, and adjust your plan accordingly, you shouldn’t get one of those sit-down-or-I-might-faint credit card bills come January or February! My colleague and the founder of the Financial RecoverySM Institute, Karen McCall has developed a Holiday Spending plan and offers it free here http://www.financialrecovery.com/products.html.

On my website I also give my Top 10 Tips for not overspending http://www.financialclarity.co.nz

So now that that is done, I hope, all that is left is for you to relax and enjoy! I wish you all that, and a very Happy Christmas, and may 2010 be a happy, healthy and prosperous one for you!