My last post bitched about the joys of being back in credit card and car debt. So much fun! Really. Just like having a rousing case of hemorrhoids. And what girl doesn't love a good 'roid fest?
Many moons ago, I used to coach folks about getting out of debt. I supported all the standard notions: cut everything non-essential out; budget like a frugal ninja; tell friends and family to learn to like hugs over gifts, etc. We've all been there, done that, right? It works. It's fabulous. Which is why I'm not following the standard advice this time around.
Wait, that didn't sound right. But yeah, I'm changing the game a bit, simply because I'm old and tired. If I were going over my budget and gave the standard advice, I would tell myself to cut out charitable giving, sending stuff to military folks via Adopt a Platoon, and eliminate eating out. No new clothes. No trips. Cut, cut, cut until that debt beast is dead and preferably as quickly as possible.
After having a health scare, I'm a bit more selfish these days. The things that bring me the most joy in my life revolve around sending my soldiers random crap, being generous to charitable causes, and hanging out with my friends, which often involves meals out. I'm not going to cut those things out in service to debt. However, I am going to be smarter about it all. This means I will take close to two years to get out from under instead of one and will pay a bit more in interest. So be it.
So, here's how I'm doing the "wrong" thing a bit smarter:
1. I stopped using coupons eons ago, because I rarely, if ever, buy heavily processed packaged foods and my toiletry consumption is minimal (not to mention the fact that I often use products that simply don't offer coupons). But I have to buy that crap for my soldiers, because real food would mold prior to getting there, and I'm not sure some dude out in the desert is going to appreciate my homemade oil facial cleanser. So, a couponing I will go! I also signed up for a Target debit card, so that I'll get 5% off every time I shop there, which is where I get most of my soldier stuff. (Note: debit, not credit. Comes straight out of my bank account. I am trying not to wig about privacy issues.)
2. I cut back on some of my charitable giving, but not all. I'm still supporting the African Well Fund and the Worldwide Fistula Fund and random one-off gifts. Previously, I did not consider my volunteer work through Adopt a Platoon as a "charitable" act, because service members aren't "charity cases." They're trained professionals doing rough jobs in rough places. But now that Mama has debt? Yeah. Consider yourself a charity, boys! So, I'm still at the same percentage of giving, just packaged differently. The world continues to spin, oblivious.
3. I'm cutting back on eating out by mastering some recipes and having friends over for dinner. By "mastering recipes" I mean screwing things up beyond repair and forcing people to eat it anyway, lest we waste precious grub.
4. Since I've changed the way I live, my body is changing as well, which requires new and/or altered clothes. (Isn't it super great how 99.9% of all weight loss comes from the boobs and won't budge from anywhere else? Yay! My tatas are now sad remnants of their former glory. Thanks, nature. Thanks a lot.) A friend graciously gave me her sewing machine, which I am learning to use so that I can alter what I currently own, thus lessening the need to buy new goodies. My ultimate goal is to learn how to make dresses for myself. Feel free to swing by with a hands-on demo. I took a class once. I was the "special needs" student who sucked horribly at it. This will not deter me, however, because I excel and being a shitty, shitty beginner.
Next up? Ways in which I am following the old school advice. But I'm curious, is there anything that you do that's against the standard advice?