Although I’m not sentimental about numbers (we have a love hate relationship, actually), it struck me to realize that I’m about to turn 30 in just over a month and I have about 30K in debt – and that’s just the credit cards. There’s also the 15K I have on my second line of credit and the 20K I owe to a family member. I don’t have a house to show for it, I don’t have a car to show for it, and I know my university education doesn’t validate the debt as none of that is student loans. I’m broke, I’ve hit rock bottom, and I’m angry. Why anger? I generally strive to be a serene individual on all fronts, but I’m happy I’m angry at my debt. I’m angry enough to declare war against it and climb myself out, and I’m pulling out the big guns to do so.
I won’t get into details about how I got into this mess, but it’s all my fault. I lay claim to every bad decision. I
have had a shopping addiction I am self-diagnosing as clinical, and I wanted it all. Not only did I shop to feel better about myself, my day, my decisions (I even shopped to feel better because I was depressed about all my debt – yes, yes, I know, I realize the absolutely asinine reasoning here) , but I also never said no to anything. Dinner out? Yes. Trip to Vegas/Thailand/Europe? Yes. Drinks night? I’ve been out the last 6 nights in a row, but yes. I had problems with self-control. I couldn’t tell myself no. My FOMO and need for new, shiny, exhilarating experiences/distractions was all consuming. And all these past tense references claiming I had a shopping addiction were all present tense until this morning. The bucks stops here. Literally.
This isn’t a blog about how I finally woke up and realized I frittered all my hard earned money (and future earnings) away and I’m just flabbergasted and have decided to take control now that I’ve awakened to my reality. Nay nay, I’ve been fully and consciously aware of my destructive habits and have made several attempts over the past almost ten years to curb them. And failed. Every. Single. Time. I’ve been reading PF books and blogs for years and have attempted numerous shopping bans, all to no avail. Let’s be frank here: I am addicted to shopping and spending money. Absolutely addicted. As silly and frivolous as a “shopping addiction” sounds, those going through it will tell you that the stronghold this addiction has on you is just as overpowering and all-consuming as an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and it’s ability to ruin lives just as real. Actually, shopping addiction has an extra ugly layer to it that worsens it’s effects even further – it’s taboo. It sounds trivial and flighty so we don’t talk about it. To quote a client of April Lane Benson’s in her book To Shop or Not to Shop, “It would be much easier to tell people I’m an alcoholic – they’d understand that better.” Keeping this addiction secret and buried away meant that not only was I keeping it under wraps from other people, but it made it easier to bury confronting it deep down within myself. It’s time to air it out in the open so I can look it in the face and know that although I have my work cut out for me, I can beat this addiction and get my life and my future back.
Enter the Frugal Desperado. Why desperado? Well to be honest I gravitated towards it because it sounds a lot like ‘desperate’, which is a feeling that one who’s hit rock bottom and is facing a debt crisis experiences on an all-consuming level. Wrapped in the thought process however was also the concept of the desperado as renegade, an outlaw or bandit motivated by despair. But becoming frugal and taking control of your finances is a noble undertaking, you may say. I am making no bones about it, being frugal in my city, in my social circle, in my career is not going to be easy and will require an overhaul of my life. I can attest that even suggesting more frugal options to those in my day-to-day world is looked upon so abominably that I know making the decision to whole-heartedly follow through with turning my lifestyle on it’s head ostracizes me to the fringe of my tribe and community. My lifestyle thus far has been ‘fancy’ – my neighbourhood, my job, my friends (my bank account? Not so fancy), so deciding to withdraw from this world I’ve built up and live differently is reminiscent of the outlaw, the renegade, the turncoat. The (frugal) desperado.
I’m not whining about the lifestyle change. There’s no room nor time for whining here. I’m willing to set my plan and do what it takes to get there. If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. So I’m turning it all around. I’m walking up to battle line, staring my debt monster in the face, and telling it that no matter what, I’m winning this war. I want my life and my peace of mind back, and I’m going to go out and get it.