May 18, 2009
Overspending is a problem that many Americans have experienced in the last few years. For some, it has become a perceived necessity considering the current financial melt-down. For others, spending (and overspending) has become a way to fill an emotional void in their lives. For those who overspend because of a financial turnaround, the answer for them may be in practicing non-resistance. Addressing ‘what is’ rather than waiting or hoping for what you would like to happen. We spend our lives trying to resist pain… in whatever form it comes to us. If we get a headache, we take a pill rather than figuring out and eliminating the underlying cause of that headache. So we ‘fix’ the pain on a short-term basis but it occasionally returns because we’ve never addressed the real underlying cause. We simply took the ‘quick fix’ approach and moved on in our busy lives. For many who are in dire financial straits, how did they get there? For some, they may have lost their job or have gotten ‘temporarily’ laid off. Their jobs may still be there but their income may have been cut back by their employer. Their investments or even their life savings may have gone down the tube. It’s been really rough for many. Even though we can’t control everything that happens to us in our lives, ultimately, we are all responsible for how we choose react to what happens to us in our lives. The real estate collapse is a good example. In the last 10 years, it became easier and easier for people to be able to buy a home with little or no money down. The ARM’s (adjusted rate mortgage) that they signed onto were obviously a high risk and even a 12 year old could have told them that. So they simply ‘overlooked’ the obvious to be able to get what they wanted. For some, the mortgage folks even told them to fudge on their reported income or background information to make the loan go through. Why wasn’t that a red flag for them to walk out and find another way? And when they realized that they were getting into financial trouble, why did they not have a plan and take action? Why did they wait until the worst has happened? There are no real accidents in life… and at some level, those that took that ARM route to buying a home knew there was risk involved. I’m not implying that illegal business practices are not partly responsible… but as I said that there are no real accidents in life, also there are no guarantees in life. Why are many still doing OK? They didn’t overspend.
- They live well below their means.
- They pay off all credit card charges monthly.
- They sacrifice with less ‘things’ now so that they can pay off their home mortgage as soon as possible.
- They save, save, save for a ‘rainy day.’ Guess what folks? The rainy day is here.
- They do their homework in advance. They check out ratings on banks, mortgage companies, investments, etc. Of course, that won’t always work but it’s way better than not even trying.
- They spend wisely. The go for high quality at a fair price. They research the quality and price on all major purchases and they tend not to make impulsive buys.
- They are not into trendy purchases. Traditional/conservative lasts longer.
- They take good and loving care of what they do have.
- They pay attention to the news including business and politics so they can perceive trends that are showing up… and then they adjust accordingly.
- When they see something on the horizon that could be a problem for them, they take action now rather than later. They don’t wait until everything falls apart before they implement a plan of action.
- They have contingency plans for economic and other downturns. They are prepared.
- They have or create a human support system for emergencies. This can be their biological family or simply their family of friends. If they don’t have any friends, they make sure that they get some. And, they know that to have a good and supportive friend, you first have to be one!
- They communicate with knowledgeable friends and strangers about their financial and investment concerns. They know that many informed minds are better than just one. It has been said that ‘No man is an island’ and that certainly is true in our modern world.
So, what if you’ve lost or are losing your home? Check out all of the above strategies and start using what you can to get your plan together. Regardless of your current situation, remember that it’s just temporary. The only thing that remains constant in the Universe is change… so look ahead and think good thoughts. Wallowing in anger, frustration and self pity only brings more of the same. Focus on a hopeful future… plan and act positively to implement that plan. If you stumble, remain calm. Don’t change your goal, just change and adjust the way you’re going to attain it. Sometimes our first plan isn’t as realistic as we had thought, so changes may be required. It’s all OK. And remember that no matter how difficult it may be, the only way to fail is to stop trying. No one ever said that life is easy.
For those who just can’t stop spending… you will want to be honest with yourself and see if you can figure out what your real motivation is in buying ’stuff’ all the time. Many will require therapy of some sort to figure this out. It usually goes back to programming and imprints made during early childhood. Also, if this has been a life-long habit, you will need to clear the underlying causes which can be many and very complex. Only counseling professionals are equiped to be able to do this clearing work. Sorry, there is no ‘quick fix’ for this one.