One of the things I love about blogging is reading what others are writing about money. Carl Richards has a great post on his NYT blog called “It’s time to Occupy Your Checkbook.” While many people are focusing on the wrongs of the banking industry, big business and the government in the current financial mess, few people are looking at their own financial matters. Richards writes:
“Perhaps it’s time to talk openly about past mistakes we’ve made. Time to take responsibility for our own financial situations and make a plan to improve it. Time to stop buying crap and hoping it makes us happy. Time to stop pretending to be something we aren’t financially. Time to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, since we all know they’re buried in credit-card debt anyway.
Occupy Wall Street may or may not lead to change. But I know for a fact that if you Occupy Your Checkbook there will be.”
Whether you agree with the protests or not, whether you want to blame business, banks, the government, all of them or none of them for the financial downturn, we still need to look at ourselves as consumers. Those of us without power in the Northeast have had time to reflect upon what is important to us. What do I miss? I miss my cats. I miss snuggling in my bed with my husband. I miss cooking a nice dinner. Even when I missed my internet connection, it wasn’t the gadgets I missed. It was the connection to friends and family that the internet has brought us.
I know it’s difficult to look at our financial lives when things don’t look so good. It’s just easier to go along and do what we’ve always done, hoping that it will clear up on its own. When Jeff and I decided to clean up our financial mess, it was a difficult process. Looking at the amount of debt we had was not easy. We had two major financial stumbling blocks in two years from 2005-2007. When we finally got back on our feet and looked at the mess we were in, it was not easy. But once we knew the magnitude of the problem, we could start developing a way to get out from under all the debt we had accumulated. We are almost at the end of the first part of the plan. It’s been a long road but we couldn’t have gotten here without taking that first step and addressing the problem.
I remember when we first made a list of all of our debt, the amount was shocking. I thought it would be impossible to pay everything off. I was ready to throw in the towel. Now, I have a sense of peace in my financial life. We have a plan and we are making huge progress. Are things perfect? No, but they are so much better.
Have you had to face your financial fears? How did you feel immediately afterwards? How did you feel after you starting making progress? If you haven’t taken the first step, what’s stopping you?