The answer c9814708_san be, I believe, both.

For me, and many people like me, shopping certainly had many of the elements of addiction.

I would obsess about buying something. I would seek out opportunities to go shopping although I knew it was damaging my relationships and credit rating. I’d often have trouble stopping and would feel restless and irritable or even depressed, when I stopped or hadn’t been shopping in a while. I denied I had any problems with money and was never open about my purchases regarding price or quantity. I would also be out of control sometimes e.g. buying 2 pairs of shoes when I only needed one or none at all!! One of my clients told me of going into a shop to buy a white t-shirt and coming out a short time later with many t-shirts of assorted colors!

These are all common characteristics of addictive behaviors as described here http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/hints/addictiveb.html .

So, I now readily admit, I had a spending or shopping addiction for many years.

For me shopping was not the cure. It was merely a temporary patch or plaster over some wounds, namely my low self esteem.

Buying stuff made me feel better about myself and more worthy of others’ love and attention, in the moment.

It was temporary at best.

Many people who use shopping, or spending money, as a salve for their wounds report having feelings of remorse and even self loathing afterwards. They regret that they have again succumbed to the seduction of shopping. Their self esteem is hit again as, once more, they have broken the promise they made to themselves to stop using their credit card.

Just as alcoholics wake up the next day and regret last night and vow to, this time, never drink again, so does the shopaholic regret the shopping and vow to never do it again. They promise that they will pay off their credit cards and never use them again.

I would, secretly, make statements like that all the time and then further knock my self esteem by not keeping my promise to myself. I couldn’t be relied on, even by me.

Now what about the other part of the equation…that retail therapy is a cure?

For many people an afternoon of shopping is a very enjoyable way to spend time, either with friends, or alone. The buzz and visual stimulus of the shops and malls make them feel uplifted and brighter. It elevates their mood.

One of the questions I ask people when they start working with me is about their attitudes to shopping. If they describe shopping as a hobby it does raise a red flag for me.

Does it mean they are addicted? Not always.

However, it is worth remembering that shops and shopping malls are in business to sell stuff and make a profit. If you are spending lots of time there, the chances are you are going to spend more money than you intend and often, than you can afford.

So if, for you, the occasional outing to the shops lifts your mood and makes you happy then by all means go for it, at least occasionally. We are meant to be happy.

If, on the other hand you find yourself spending more time or money than you intended when you go shopping maybe it is time to evaluate these trips and find other less expensive hobbies or ways of making you feel better or relieve the boredom.

If you found yourself being a bit alarmed or all too agreeable, when you read the first part of this article contact me and set up a clarity/strategy call with me and we can talk about. You can schedule it here :-http://www.financialclarity.co.nz/schedule-session.html

I have just written a post on my Facebook page about one of the most common questions I am asked:-

“Should I consolidate my debt?”

20111702_sBefore I give an answer, I always ask if they are still using credit cards and if they are, are they paying them off in full every month. If they are then debt consolidation can be useful. It makes payment easier, just a single payment for all of the different debts you have eg. credit card(s), store cards, personal loans etc and it is often a much lower interest rate than credit and store cards.

If however, they tell me that they are still using credit cards I strongly advise that they don’t go for debt consolidation.

Why? It is all too tempting. Suddenly, all your credit cards are paid off and all that wonderful credit is available to you again and you are still in the habit of using it. The first time you tell yourself “I need a new dress, pair of shoes (fill in the blank………) you’ll be reaching for the credit card! In an earlier post of mine http://bit.ly/1IuNvVj I discussed the difference between needs and wants and the impact, not knowing the difference, can have.

I wish I’d had that advice a long time ago. I had a very friendly bank manager and I was always consolidating my debt, only to go back in a month or two to do it again!! The only people who benefitted by this apart from the bank, was the guy who was always coming to put a value on my home so that I could borrow against it. By the time I sold it  and paid off all my debt ( the ultimate debt consolidation) there wasn’t much equity in my property.

So if you are thinking of consolidating your debt, make sure you are not increasing it before you do. This means for most people, stopping using your credit cards first.

If you want to get out of a hole, first you have to stop digging! So it is with debt. If you want to get out of debt, first you have to stop incurring it.

Ok so here is Part 2!

If you didn’t see part 1 yesterday, here is the link:

https://jillporter.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/changing-up-the-back-story/

Having got myself back on track following Mum’s death I then had to take another break whilst I had surgery on my hip. I was on crutches for 6 weeks and sore and tired, so not much work got done!

Now I am not going to bore you with all the details but during the next 4 years  I had another 4 lots of surgery! Most of them quite big surgeries and requiring significant recovery time. Between each one, my business would grow again and be on the brink of becoming successful and bang, another surgery, and back down it would go.

Bugger! But great excuses for absolving me of any kind of blame or responsibility, right?

Wrong!

Now I needed all of those surgeries but on some level I needed the hiccough they brought to my business success too.

I’ve done quite a lot of exploration of this over the years but as many of you reading this will know, I’m not much into woo-woo stuff, so I also rejected any idea that I may have had a part to play in any of this.

Recently, I’ve come to accept that I surely did. Law of attraction! On some level I am still a bit skeptical about the role of the Law of Attraction when it comes to needing surgery or for that matter getting other physical illnesses. The traditional medicine which I have known and practiced as a nurse for so long, still has me pretty firmly in it’s grip!

However, what I have come to accept in the past few months, was how my surgeries allowed me to play the victim, not be responsible for my business success, or lack thereof, and to just coast along with it, blaming my “bad luck” for the lack of momentum.

What I had unwittingly done, was go from overspender to underearner..the flip side of the same coin!

The end result is the same. I end up in debt and never have any money…initially from spending it all and more, and more recently, from not earning it!

What have been the effects of all this?

My relationship ended. I may have stopped overspending but now I didn’t have any money at all and that still put the relationship in precarious territory and F left. We remain great friends still.

I moved into an apartment but for the first time in my life couldn’t pay the rent, moved out and went housesitting. I actually love doing this. I stay in some fabulous homes and look after some amazing animals and have wonderful experiences. I hate moving though and living out of a suitcase can get pretty tedious!

When I moved into an inner city apartment I sold my car and walked everywhere. I haven’t been able to replace it.

I have had to borrow money from friends and family. This has strained some treasured relationships.

For some months I was on a WINZ accommodation supplement.

My pride has taken some massive hits.

But, I now know and believe that I truly have something to offer so many people.The lessons I have learned about our relationships with money are too valuable not to be shared. The work I do is important and who could be more qualified to do it! I am taking responsibility for that. There are people out there who need me.

Now that I have spilled all that ( whew!!) I intend that this blog will be a way to chronicle my journey and adventures along the way, whilst also giving some personal finance tips and information. You will also meet some of the funny and sweet animals I look after, and see some of the wonderful views I enjoy.

I hope that it will sometimes be funny, it may be irreverent, could well be opinionated on other subjects other than the one at hand but I hope it will be enjoyable. Please interact with me. I love hearing from you and love suggestions and comments….positive or negative. Until later….

OK, I am changing things up in here!

For a few years I have been posting irregularly in here, usually about money and money behaviours. It’s been OK but it was a bit boring( actually often a lot boring!!) and I’m not into boring and nor do I lead a boring life.

Sooooooo….. I have decided to change it around and I am going to post more regularly just on what’s happening in my life. It won’t be on all of it, I promise!! I will still focus on money in many ways but it will be more centred on my ongoing relationship with money and where that has led me and the adventures I have along the way.

It may not be pretty, it may not be well punctuated and it may not use correct grammar all the time, but it will be real. It may well contain some of my opinions on other stuff too…so look out!

A catch up first..

As many of you know, for a lot of years I was an overspender (aka shopaholic) and a chronic debtor. I always had credit card debt apart from a few weeks when I had, yet again, managed to pay them off, vowing to never use them again…until I did! Every. Time!

I was living in the USA ( my home is New Zealand) and met a new partner.. A quick explanation here. I usually use “they gave me an ultimatum” but in the interests of really telling it as it is, it was really she gave me an ultimatum. I warned you that my life isn’t boring …I came out as a lesbian at 52 and F was my first female partner! Using “they” has given me a few laughs though! eg a male CEO saying ” so all you needed was a good man!” As if!!!

Anyway, F gave me an ultimatum: either get help for my spending and behaviour around money, or we were through.

So, I found a counsellor and began Financial Recovery counselling. It was a gamechanger! I stopped using my credit cards immediately and began tracking what I was spending. Did I become a penny pincher? No, but did I plan my spending and then  track what I spent? Hell yeah!!

Things were trucking along pretty well…until the company was restructured and my position was eliminated.

Back to NZ I came with F relocating with me. The only problem was I didn’t have a job as I had become too senior (and too expensive) for the local subsidiary. I’d had my fill of corporate life anyway and decided to strike out on my own and Financial Clarity was born. I would help people, women in particular, who had issues around money like I did.

It wasn’t an overnight success..far from it but I began to attract clients and I was able to help them change their relationship to their money. It had hiccoughs along the way and lots of them.

My Mum got ill and died aged 93. I was delighted that self employment allowed me the freedom to spend some very valuable weeks with her before then though. My wonderful Mum’s death derailed me than I thought it would. I thought I was pretty accepting of the inevitable with her age and failing health.

On many levels I was but I missed her more than I thought possible and still do.

Look for part two of the catch up tomorrow!

There was an interesting article in the NZ Herald on Sunday.

This is my take on the subject!http://https://vimeo.com/124811703

I’d love your comments on this. Do you use credit cards so that you can get air points or other rewards?

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?

Are you still using?

March 20, 2014

I hope Cyclone Lusi didn’t do too much damage where you are (if you’re in NZ or the Pacific Islands). I had a wonderful weekend with 3 of my greatest friends staying for the weekend! Such wonderful fun, with lots of good food and wine thrown in for good measure! 1912198_519433521498949_479782641_n

As you know I am a great advocate of using debit cards, not credit cards and it was great to see that NZ is listening!  Statistics for card use in February in NZ showed that 54.1% of it was on debit cards with the remainder on credit cards. That was on 108 million transactions worth an average of $53!! I still find those numbers mind boggling, don’t you?

“The value of electronic card spending on retail rose 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted $.58 billion in February, according to Statistics New Zealand.” (NZ Herald, March 11, 2014)

Are you still using a credit card or debit card?  Go to my Facebook page ( see the link below) and answer the poll. Get your friends and and family to participate too.

Have a great week  and as always I value your feedback.