Rewind about 10 or 11 years. Before I was a mom, before the adult in me was unleashed, I was a college student.
I was a smart, sassy and overspending college student who was spending money I didn’t have. I was spending this money freely and enjoying it.
I had credit cards for at least 10 stores in the mall, not to mention a Visa, MasterCard and an American Express.
I was eating where ever I wanted. I shopped when I wanted at my favorite places.
If I wanted it, I bought it.
I did have a job. I worked nearly full time during my entire college career. I drove a car I made payments on.
I was on scholarship, so everything was paid for. It was during this time the overspender in me was born.
Fast forward a few years. I graduated with my degree and got a good job, according to the standard of those around me.
I then went to graduate school. I was still not a mom, but I found ways to keep up the steady spending.
I upgraded to a new car, moved into a better apartment, made weekly hair appointments and joined my friends when they were eating out. I was keeping up with the Joneses, and I was really enjoying it.
Then reality set in.
I became a mom, a single mom. I began working full time and was not enjoying my life of overspending so much anymore.
The credit card payments had enslaved me to just pay them, so that I can feed my addiction to spend.
The balances were so high they major negative impacts on my credit score, which hindered my attempts to buy a home.
To make matters worse, the inner overspender in me was still yelling, “Buy it! Buy it now!”
The sassy, single mom who had two kids watching her every move began to exercise some caution.
Then I read Natalie McNeal’s book “The Frugalista Files.” It is a straightforward story about a single professional woman and her journey to become debt-free.
She starts the journey by vowing she will not spend any money for one month. This meant a month without trips to the hair or nail salon, a month without entertainment and a month when she would not eat out for any meals.
The only spending was for paying bills and buying gas and groceries. Natalie completed her no-spending month in February and saved close to $400.
No Spend November
In an effort to tame the overspender in me, I did a month that came to be known as “No Spend November” in November 2011.
I did not shop on Black Friday or on Cyber Monday. I didn’t eat out or do anything other than pay my bills. I was E.M.P.O.W.E.R.ed.
I founded the E.M.P.O.W.E.R. system to encourage others to be the best they can be. E.M.P.O.W.E.R stands for “Encouraging Meaningful Progress Overcoming Weight Empowered by Results.”
I wanted to get rid of the financial weight that was weighing me down once and for all.
I saw the amount of money I saved in that month and decided to continue my journey beyond No Spend November.
“I decided to take control of money
instead of allowing money to control me.”
Here are three tips to becoming an E.M.P.O.W.E.R.ed spender:
1. Take a look at how your values align with your spending.
Grab your journal and number from one to 10. Jot down your top 10 values or the 10 most important things to you at this very moment.
Once you have done that, grab your most recent bank statement or log into your online banking and determine how much of your spending is being allocated to the 10 things you wrote down.
If your spending is not aligned with your values, you could be, or have the potential to be, an overspender.
2. Go one month without spending.
Take one month where you do nothing but pay your bills, purchase groceries and other necessities and make sure you have gas or transportation to and from work.
Take advantage of free activities available at your local library and community organizations or spend time with friends and family at home for potluck dinners or game nights.
3. Develop a plan to defeat debt.
Decide not to allow your debt to control you.
Take a look at what you owe and who you owe. Contact those creditors to see if you can get interest rate reductions.
Then determine a plan to pay one card off at a time, starting with the smallest card. Seeing progress is often just the motivation you need to stay motivated.
Today, I have paid off the credit cards that were weighing me down and developed a budget. I also own a home.
The journey is not one for the fearless, but the rewards of being an E.M.P.O.W.E.R.ed spender far outweigh those of being an overspender.
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