On January 1st 2015 I bought a five year diary. Here is what I wrote 2 years ago today:
“Somehow I have become a financial hell hole again. I don’t know how I do it.”
Hmm, somehow I still hadn’t grasped the concept of spend more than you earn = bad times.
Or to put it much better, the famous quote:
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.” ― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield.
My 2015 diary entries are littered with days like the above.
May 13th 2015: My credit card extension came through. Spent loads.
June 25th 2015: I am very poor and I don’t realise it.
June 27th 2015: Got paid by new job so have had one of the best days of my life.
October 8th 2015: OH and I went for a 2 mile jog! We also had an argument about money.
October 31st 2015: Had a wobble over finances.
November 16th 2015: Bit of a low day. Felt too mentally unwell to do anything. I need to raise money and fast.
December 5th 2015: I need a lot of money.
Also littered throughout that years diary entries are the many, many days when I had either gastrointestinal problems or eczema. Both were caused by stress.
I was stressed by my job at the time. I worked in a call centre. I worked with absolutely amazing people, but unfortunately my anxiety over talking to people I don’t know, inability to deal with conflict and did I forget to mention my PHOBIA of talking to people on the phone meant it probably wasn’t the best job for me. But I had to work it, as I was in debt and had huge credit card bills to pay.
So I was stressed by money and my mounting debts, so I needed my job to pay them, but I hated my job and was unbelievably stressed by it and ended up using all my allowance of sick days in a less than 6 months meaning on the occasions when I was off work sick with stress after that I had reduced sick pay.
So you can understand a little bit more about how I got stuck in this mess.
I shopped to feel good as everything else in my life was going wrong.
Things are better now.
In 2015 I frequently had insomnia and difficulty falling asleep as all I could do was panic over my spending chaos, my huge debts, what could soon turn out to be a negative income and how I was going to tell my OH (Other Half) that despite earning MORE than him I needed to borrow money.
I WAS A TWAT!
I have no one to blame but myself, which is why I ‘reject’ sympathy. I got myself into this mess and by hook or by crook I will get myself out of it.
Please don’t feel sorry for me (you probably weren’t, you probably agree that I was a twat but let me continue). Yes I can make an argument that my shopping addiction started as a result of a deep empty void, terrible stress and low self esteem but then shopping has never been listed as a cure for mental health difficulties now has it?
In December 2015 my finances were in such a dire state that I had to withdraw the money I needed for my upcoming personal expenses, and then put the right amounts into separate envelopes, label the envelopes with what the money was for (Work Xmas party, Slimming World etc) and then give the envelopes to my OH to look after and have him issue them to me on the days I needed them, but I was incapable of not spending money in my account.
It didn’t matter is I had £55 in my bank account, and I had £55 of expenses that month. I would ‘forget’ that the money was reserved for other things and I would head straight to the shops and buy something, anything.
I considered it a violation of my human rights if I couldn’t go straight to Peacocks on payday and buy a new outfit.
In the early part of 2015 I did realise I was getting out of control, and I did start making baby steps towards getting under control.
On April 1st 2015, as it was the start of a new tax year (one of my favourite days of the year is when I get to do my self employed taxes. I don’t know why I just love doing my taxes. Yes, I am weird) I decided it would be a good idea to start keeping a spending diary. Truth is I got the idea in March and not in January when normal people start diaries but oh well.
I religiously kept every receipt I was given, and I showed them in a folder.
Then one day when my OH was at the football (I support the same team but was too poor to go, probably on account of spending all my money in Peacocks or on Faberge Eggs or something ridiculous) I started creating spreadsheet spending diaries for each month of that year. I also love spreadsheets, you’ll get to find out more about that over time.
I still do this to this day.
So I can tell you exactly how much money I spent on the various categories of my spending. And I can tell you that this year I have spent on average £40 less a month then I did in 2015. So things have got better.
I now spend all my time thinking about money, in particular my money, my attitude to spending, how I spent, how I calculate things.
It is my all consuming thought, but it makes me happy now. I am in control and take pleasure from being in control and knowing everything about my spending.
Which is why I am desperate to pay off my debts as soon as possible. Because as soon as I pay off my debts I can return to studying. I am going to study either Economics, or Accountancy, or train to be a financial adviser. I want people to know there is a way out, whether your debt is £6000 or £600000 it is possible to lead a life of value and fun, pay off your debts and make your dreams come true.
I have direction now, which I didn’t have before.