I resolve, never ever again
So, what was your New Year's resolution? Still keeping it? Hah! I didn't think so... me neither, if truth be told. Resolutions aren't quite as resolute as they used to be, but of course life isn't exactly like it used to be, either. We're all different people than we were just a year ago. Last year at this time, we all had a simple inkling that "things" were going to get very very bad in 2008. And now, a year later, we know it was far worse than we ever expected.
Yes, we're different people than we were. But, we're stronger people, too. You've heard the expression "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger," right? Well, I'd say the majority of Americans are probably capable of bench pressing a couple of hundred pounds right now. I'm stronger, but I'm also smarter. And that's more important, I think. I'm smarter because I'm never going to allow myself to get into the same dire financial predicament ever again. And here are a couple of things that I'm going to do (or not do) to stay out of trouble.
1. I'm not going to hide my head in the sand. I'm going to open up every bill and credit card statement that I get, when I get it - no more hiding it in the drawer and ignoring it, ‘cause it just doesn't go away on its own. If the amount due is more than I can pay, or if it's past due, I'm going to swallow my pride and call the company to work out a repayment plan. And I am going to make the payment on time; no more late fees for me - those things add up.
2. I'm not going to fall for the gimmicks and marketing tricks that the stores, car dealerships and banks got me into in the first place. "No money down," "Low introductory rate," or "Free toaster with purchase" are not going to be enough to convince me that I need a new car, a new mortgage or a new plasma screen television. Nor am I going to feel guilty for not buying the things my kids "insist" we need.
3. I'm not going to use any credit card, line of credit, store account or charge card; they're all going to be put out to pasture for a long while and paid off, albeit slowly but definitely steadily. If it's not green and crisp and has a picture of an ex-president on it, I'm not going to use it. Cash only, baby, you better believe it. The only exception I will make to the plastic menace will be a debit card, but even then it will be used exceptionally judiciously so there are no surprises in my bank statement.
4. I will not buy anything on impulse. Rather, I will make lots and lots of lists: Lists of things I need now, things I want later, and still more things I think I may want some time in the future. Then I will put those lists away and look them over a few days later, to see what is still important. Remember, priorities change, some times minute by minute. The list will help me prioritize.
5. I recognize that sometimes, despite all other efforts, I might need a little help, a "personal bailout," if you will. (Heck, if the Big 3 Auto Makers can ask for it, why can't I?) And I won't be ashamed to ask for it, either. And I will go to the people who I know can help me, either by offering me a sympathetic ear or some expert advice.
If it's expert advice that I'm looking for, I'll look no further than DebtStoppers bankruptcy and debt relief attorneys. They'll listen carefully and then they'll tell me exactly what I need to do to fix my financial problems. I'm sure they'll advise me that their free Personal Debt Analysis is the first step to fixing my problem, so that's what I'll do first. And then they'll invite me to come to one of their regularly scheduled free Financial Workshops, where I'll be able to meet with others in my community who are in the same (apparently big big) boat as me. And after I leave that Financial Workshop, I'm pretty sure that I'll be walking away from there with new friends, a full belly and a free, no strings attached, no gimmick gift from DebtStoppers, the Financial Toolkit, a info pack chock full of advice and help that I'll wish I had had a year ago. I might even order one of those free Financial Toolkits now, just because they are so cool, and just in case the Workshop is booked full (but I'll be determined to go to the next one, that's for sure!). I'll leave the Workshop with all those things, and one more - hope - for a better, debt-free, New Year.
And if I'm only looking for a sympathetic ear, I'll call my mom and she'll make the appropriate noises and I'll feel better. And then I'll call the experts and get real help. Mommy's powers are limited, after all... but don't tell her I know that.