Saturday, October 25, 2008

Principle #1: Know Your Poison

Know Your Poison

I have an addictive personality. When I sought help for this problem back in 1996, I was told that addiction is "a disease of more." For a lot of us, there is something that always leaves us wanting more, whether it's chocolate, alcohol, gambling, sex, playing the lotto, online gaming, pills, drugs, online chatrooms, Blythe dolls, driving too fast, shoes, Häagen-Dazs or plain old shopping.

You know the thing -- you get excited thinking about doing the thing, and during the preparation for the thing. It gets your endorphins going a bit, and doing the thing itself helps you let go of the worries, concerns, and anxieties of your day-to-day life. You lose yourself in it for awhile--just a little while.

Whether the thing is a healthy escape (or at least not terribly harmful) is usually apparent afterward, when it's possible for guilt, shame and remorse to set in.

Not sure? Ask yourself these questions (yes, they are hard!) and answer honestly.

1. Does the thing impact your mental, emotional, physical, or financial health in negative ways?
3. Do you ever hide the extent of this activity from other people?
2. Is it making your life unmanageable?

I anticipate that as economic times get harder, more and more of us are going to turn to our activities of choice for comfort, to dull the pain of economic reality and the hard times we're facing. Of course, this will likely make our own economic realities harder.

I know, because I've done it. Back in 1995 I had buried myself in a 'drug of choice' hole that was so deep -- financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically -- that it was unimaginable that I'd ever be able to crawl (much less climb) out of it.

Hence we begin the journey of this blog. Most importantly, today:
1. I keep "the disease of more" at bay,
2. I live within my means, and
3. I am free of the fear of financial insecurity.

Next I'll begin sharing with you the concrete things I've done to achieve those three vital accomplishments.

Don't worry, this isn't a blog just for addicts, alcoholics, shopoholics, or any other kind of -ics! It's just good to know what your weakness(es) are when you begin to look at your spending patterns--if you have any weaknesses, and I'm certainly not suggesting that all of us do. But remember that when it comes to money, it's not just what you spend your money on, but when and how you spend, because many of us can be emotionally-driven spenders, at times, without even realizing it. Much more on this to come!

Next time: Therapy for retail therapy.


Puss-in-Boots said...

Ohhh, my disease of more was credit card spending...I won't go into the trouble found myself in here, it'd take too long. But, with the help of a really good financial guy, I cut my credit cards up (that was painful) and have paid cash ever since. Guess what, I actually have money in the back and investments now.

I do have a Visa, but it's a debit fees and using my own money. That way, I have to think before I buy...

Obsidian Kitten said...

I know exactly what you're talking about! I got into a lot of trouble with credit cards and had to get rid of all my plastic in 1996 (not by choice, though) and it was *terrifying*.

Learning to live on cash (now also with a debit card, as you said) was probably the main thing that has saved me since then. Not that it was easy, but at least then you have to HAVE money to spend it.