Abundance and Gratitude!

February 27, 2014

Last night when I was ironing I came up with a great (I thought) topic for this week’s Money Motivator. Did I write it down? Did I heck as like, as they say on Coronation St!! Do I remember it this morning? Of course not! I know that it was a slightly different angle  than usual but exactly what I don’t know! Since I had that significant birthday a week or so ago I get a bit anxious now when my memory fails me, I have to say.

Anyway, two of the “themes” that have been cropping up a lot this year for me have been gratitude and abundance. I guess it’s not unsurprising that they come up together so often, in that, in general, our lives are very abundant and therefore we have a lot to be grateful for. But let’s go back a bit and look particularly at abundance.

In the Oxford English dictionaries (online) there are several definitions but the one most closely linked to money (my topic after all) is this:

“plentifulness of the good things of life; prosperity”

Whilst this, it would seem, is indicative of material wealth, I prefer to look at it in terms of the really “good” things in life ie the things that money can’t buy. The things we should really be grateful for, the things that most of us have in abundance regardless of our financial situation. The things that can really make us happy even if we are not wealthy in the material sense.

For me some of those things are: Love and friendship, my health, the beauty that surrounds me, the relative affluence of the society we live in (although I truly believe that we must do something about child poverty) the availability of fresh food and clean water to drink, the clean air we breathe. In many ways the list is endless.

In turn this list contains the things in my life which I am most grateful for, and apart from food, they are mostly things that do not cost me anything.
I believe that it is really important to remember those things and be truly grateful for them.

They are what we forget about when we are buying more stuff,  or lusting over material things in our quest to be happy. I am not sure what kind of reception you would have received if you had tried to tell me this when I was at the peak of my shopping powers, but I still, more than ever, needed that lesson.

What are you grateful for? What do you have in abundance? Please let me know.

Advertisements

Do you spend a lot of time worrying about money? Does it interfere with your work life?
 
A recent arti12637931_scle in US News cited a study by McGraw Hill Federal Credit Union, which showed that in a survey of more than 1000 people, 36% of them said that they spent at least two hours a day either worrying about their finances or handling them. “…another study, “Stressed at Work,” from Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, an employee-assistance program provider, that suggests almost half of workers are so stressed out that it interferes with their ability to get their jobs done. About 44 percent of male respondents and 49 percent of female respondents said they had “difficulty concentrating” as a result of “personal problems and stress.” Meanwhile, Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report finds that 7 in 10 workers are not engaged with their work.”
 
If you are an employer this must make scary reading!
 
I was interested in the article, because I have been approached recently by an employer seeking assistance for one of their staff, who had a significant amount of debt and was very worried about it. It was agreed that they would pay for their employee to see me. We have met several times and have made some plans for dealing with their situation, which has eased her anxiety considerably. Even if she wasn’t worrying about her money situation at work ( and I’m certain she was!) she was losing sleep over it. This alone would have reduced her effectiveness at work.
 
So her company paying for her work with me will, I’m sure, be very cost effective. As well as improving her productivity it will also increase her company loyalty, because she appreciates how they have supported her personally.
 
Many companies now subsidise gym memberships; a good case can be made for also providing access to financial education and support. I have done several talks for companies to provide this. I am very happy to do it for your company as well; just give me a call.
 
As promised a couple of weeks ago now, here is the link to request my article “How to get through Christmas and the Holidays without blowing out the credit cards!” Simply click on the Christmas tree. You will also be sent a Holiday planner from Karen McCall of the Financial Recovery Institute along with the spreadsheet to go with it.

Have a great week.
 

45% of Shoppers Buy Items Online They Wouldn’t In Person [INFOGRAPHIC].

 

How do you shop differently when you are shopping online rather than at a physical shop? Please share in the comments below.

 

You know the one… You’ve been invited to a wedding, birthday party, company dinner, or in fact just about anything… and the first words out of your mouth are…”But, I’ve got nothing to wear!”

Now, that is patently not true, because:

a) you have not spent the whole of your life in bed, naked, and hiding under the covers nor

b) walking around in public naked. This is not acceptable behaviour in most modern societies and you would probably have been arrested or taken to see a doctor!

What you really mean is: I don’t know what to wear, or, I don’t want to wear what I have, and this seems like a justifiable excuse to buy something new!

 

It is not a disaster for the following reasons:-

 

  1.  Firstly, the definition of disaster from Dictionary.com is: a calamitous event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship, as a flood, airplane crash, or business failure. No mention of not having anything to wear!
  2. At most functions you attend, you are not the centre of attention…( unless of course, it’s your wedding)…and very few people will notice what you are wearing. (NB If it is your wedding, that is a justifiable excuse to buy something new. I am assuming that you will have been planning it for some time and have the savings to go out and buy it!)
  3. The occasion is not a fashion show …well not usually anyway…and almost always, it is about people celebrating the occasion. That means that you have been invited for your company not your clothes! Therefore, “that old thing” is probably going to be perfectly suitable.
  4. Unless you are the Queen, or Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, chances are that nobody will realise that you have worn the outfits in your wardrobe before! People are just not that observant. More importantly they are pleased to see you, not your clothes.

 

Of course, if you have planned to buy a new outfit, because you truly need it ,and not just want it, it is lovely to be able to wear something new to a special occasion. We all love that.

However, if it is not in your plan, especially if you are trying to stop overspending or reduce your debt, an invitation to an occasion does not justify buying something new to wear.  Remember it is about the people and the celebration, so “that old thing” will be just perfect.

Tell us about any creative ideas you have, that gets around this common situation.

 

 

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.

Don’t you love to see things, reduced in price, just when you need or planned to buy them? This is a true bargain.

But what about the stuff you didn’t plan to buy? You know the ones… “It was such a bargain, I couldn’t  pass it up”, “but it was on sale”. I’ve done it more often than I’d care to admit and justified it. I’m sure, many of you have too. We’re lured into the purchase by the sale signs!

However, there is a saying:

“You can’t have too much of what you don’t need”.  In other words if you don’t need it, you probably shouldn’t be buying it, no matter how much of a bargain it is!

This comes into play particularly, when things are on sale. Retailers know that most of us are attracted to bargains; valued items which we see reduced to “sale price”.(That is the price which the retailer knows will get it moving out the door, as fast as possible!) This appeals to our psychological side. We get an extra emotional “hit” when we think we are getting something cheaply. It makes us feel good. For those of us who use shopping or buying “stuff” to fill some unmet emotional need, this is mana from heaven! Not only can we buy it, but maybe we could  buy two (for the price of one!) or buy this AND something else (two hits for our buck!).

You may have an earlier post of mine http://wp.me/pDpjD-10 “Do you REALLY need it or just want it?”, which tackles this issue in more depth. Suffice to say, it is very important that we differentiate between our needs and wants when making buying decisions. I know that I used to buy things and tell myself I “needed” them; the reality was that I just, at that moment, “wanted” them. Sometimes I’d get them home and know almost immediately that I’d never wear that colour, style or whatever! I was purely lured into the purchase by the item being on sale, or just my need to buy something to satisfy some other unmet, often unrecognised, need. The retailer had won again.

So, if you really do NEED something and find it on sale, well done, you’ve truly got a bargain! However, if you have just bought something because it was on sale, you could have saved yourself more money, by simply not buying it!

I’d love to hear your stories about some real and imagined bargains you’ve got, in the comments below.

From my last post you have seen I recommend that, unless you pay your cards off in full each and every month, you use debit cards.

Now that’s all very fine but, what if you already have a credit card, or cards, which have balances on them which you can’t pay off in full. What do you do then?

The first thing I recommend is,  stop using your credit cards immediately. There is a saying which is very pertinent here:

” If you want to get yourself out of a hole, first you have to stop digging”.

In other words, you can’t hope to get your credit cards paid off, whilst you are still using them and increasing your debt. Once you stop using them, the amount you pay off them then actually starts to make a difference. How you go about paying them off was the topic of another post of mine http://wp.me/pDpjD-2p. Essentially I recommend that you pay the minimum off them, until you have savings that will cover all periodic expenses you have, or will have. As I say it is the subject of another post!

For those of you who are now saying ” This doesn’t help me, because I have to use my credit card just to buy my groceries or kids’ clothes”

OK, what I suggest for you is that at the beginning of each month, you sit down and draw up a spending plan for the month ahead. Now if you are really serious about paying off your credit card(s) for good, this plan should address all the real needs of your family, namely, shelter, food and essential clothing, but not include wants eg new flat screen TV etc!! Once you have this drawn up, if there is a gap between the money you bring in and the money required to fulfill those needs, that is the amount you may put on your credit card. This amount is planned, which is the key word. This does not mean that you can see a dress that you just love and buy it with your credit card. The dress is not a need, and it’s purchase is not planned. You would also benefit from seeking the assistance of a Financial Recovery℠ Counsellor. You will find a list of them here:-http://www.financialrecovery.com/?p=find-by-area

Do you draw up a spending plan or budget at the beginning of every month? Do you stick to it? I’d love to hear your experiences.