Starting Over

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It seems I’ve talked a lot about that on this here blog but here I am, yet again, with a report of having to start over.

Life became a bit more than I could handle and I found myself having to make what felt like dire decisions to just get to the next day. In a period of five weeks:

  • Broke my foot (this cost me over $600 out of pocket);
  • Lost my apartment (cost me over $2,300);
  • Finagled a last minute move that was crazy expensive (cost me over $200); and
  • Spent over what I would have normally spent to get to work ($30 a day or $150 a week).

I was making $14 an hour and I thought that spending money I didn’t have to spend was the worst of it. For a while, it was. Then I took a trip to Hawaii (that had been paid for the year before) and lost my personal identification and bank cards. Oh joy! That was surely going to be the worst of it?

Not. At. All.

It seemed as though collectors and creditors knew I was in dire straits and called for every single dollar they’ve ever leant me to be paid back. By this point, I was living with my Mom and had to enlist her help in this. The final verdict? She wouldn’t be able to help me.

And this is where I find myself today – steeped in embarrassment at my financial state and wondering IF it ever actually gets better for the poor folks who were born poor?

It might not but after some deep soul searching, I’ve recommitted to the idea of starting over, really starting over, so that I can eventually own my name. My debt has become a noose around my neck and while I know that money doesn’t buy happiness, it would certainly allow me to afford the scissors to cut myself loose.

We shall see!

Rule 2: Develop a New Mindset (#31WriteNow)

Thanks for coming back for the second rule in the “Building Blocks for Building Wealth”™ series. Initially, this was step 4 but I honestly had a LOT of trouble writing about this after the original Rules 2 & 3. Then it dawned of me that I could simply move it to the second step and after thinking about it, it works.

Developing a new mindset naturally envelops the next two steps so it makes PERFECT sense to put it here (I’ll give you a sneak preview — 3. Realistically Examine Your Habits and 4. Build New Habits).

Now Developing a New Mindset is hard! It requires you to take a hard look at yourself and to do some real work. For me, that meant taking a hard look at my relationship with money. I had to ask myself the following questions:

  1. What was my earliest memory of money?
  2. How was money modeled to me?
  3. What is my relationship currently to money?
  4. Why does it need to change?
  5. What areas do I need to improve?

Now, on its face, that series of questioning is easy. But if the answers were easy, face it, we wouldn’t be broke. Starting with numbers 1 & 2 (which I got while viewing an online life improvement seminar), I had to take a hard and cold look at myself. The first time I answered the questions, I actually pretended to just be an observer so the emotion could be taken out of it. I’ve put my answer to number one below so you have an idea of what could come up if you are taking a HARD look at yourself:

1. What was my earliest memory of money? It was Christmas in 1991 and my family (my Mom, myself and my two younger brothers) lived in Florida. I remember the apartment we were in being drafty and for some reason, this winter in Florida was a bit chilly. Because I was five and I believed in Santa Clause, I had planned on “camping out” on my sofa to catch how Old St. Nick would get into our chimney-less house. But as I sat on the couch, I looked at the wall. We didn’t have a Christmas tree but my Mom in her creativity, took a bunch of garland and hung it in a pattern of a “tree” on the wall. We then decorated that wall and my Mom said that next year, we’d have a tree. We just didn’t have the “funds”. Looking back, I realize how sad she was to share that with us but we were young and thought it was cool that our Christmas tree was sparkling. Seriously…it didn’t take much to please us. That night, I fell asleep before St. Nick showed up (I still can’t tell you how he got in) but I woke up to gifts being on the floor. Great! I’ll keep quiet until it was time for everyone to wake up. That day, the presents were cool. We got things we didn’t ask for, as a matter of fact, nothing under the tree had been a request but who cares!?! We had gifts! This was after a year of not having birthday presents so we were happy. And we got bikes! What made the day weird was a conversation I overheard my Mom and Uncle have about money and my Mom telling my Uncle, “Well, I’ll just pawn one of the bikes and get you the money that I owe you.” My Uncle said that he would just tell his Brother (my Dad) to send him the child support money that he owed. I walked away from overhearing that conversation not being able to really enjoy my bike. My Mom owed someone. She owed someone for the gifts. And she owed someone for the lights. And she owed someone for buying us groceries. And she always owed us something…and in my mind, she always owed someone because my Dad never sent his money on time. Probably because of his new family and I bet they had money. And lights. And gifts that they could enjoy. Never mind that….gifts that they ASKED for.

Now, after reading all of that, you can see why changing your mindset can be hard work. For me, answering those questions meant that I had to acknowledge that my earliest memory of money was one of lack and it brought up issues of anger with my parents (I was mad at my Dad for not taking care of us — his “first” family; and I was mad at my Mom for not being able to take care of us). For me to develop a new mindset with money, I’d actually have to work on forgiving those who are closest to me*. This forgiveness could help me in other areas, namely my relationship with my parents because they are definitely a BIG part of my finances (I’ll share more on how I’m partially supporting other households later).

The big thing I wanted to share is this — the absolutely GREATEST thing  in developing a new mindset around money is that you develop a type of freedom. You realize that you can let go of the negative feelings and emotions that creep into other areas of your life (think relationships) and work to build healthier habits in these areas.

So work on developing your new mindset.

What other questions have you asked yourself when examining your relationship with money?

*I’m still in the process of this. I’ll admit here that this is probably the LONGEST rule to work on. Trust me though, it’s something that you definitely want to deal with — and don’t be ashamed if you have to ask for help from someone else.

Click the link for Rule 1 — Rule 1: Define Wealth for Yourself