Chapter 3: Debt Delusions (Part 4)

I put the bowl of salad in front of Paula and sat facing her. “So what do I do now?” she asked.

“That’s easy,” I said matter-of-factly.  “You have to make a debt repayment plan, and you may have to find a way to make more money. Hang on a second, I have something for you to read.” I pushed away from the table and leaned over the kitchen counter where I had a copy of Money Rules printed for editing. “Here,” I said, fishing out several pages and handing them to her. “Read these while we eat.”

Rule #9: Calculate Your Own Debt Repayment Plan

Rule #255: Make More Money

We ate in silence while Paula read. After we finished, I cleared the dishes, packed the dishwasher and put on the kettle.  “Tea?” I asked.

“No,” she said slowly, still reading. “Just a glass of water. Put some scotch in it.” I laughed, filled a glass with ice cubes and cold water and sat it beside her. Her eyes tracked back and forth across the page as she took in the rules. Then she looked up at me. “I have some RRSPs I could cash to pay off some of this debt,” she said. I reached into my stack and pulled out some more pages. “Crap!” she exclaimed as I handed them to her. “Wrong again eh?”

Rule #93: Do NOT Cash in Registered Savings to Pay Down Debt

“Okay,” she said. “I get what I have to do now. There’s no easy way out. I just have to do it. This is going to be hard.”

“Yes it is,” I agreed, “but so worthwhile. You’re going to dig yourself out of the hole and then you’re going to never do this again, right?”

She nodded, gathering up her pages, her handbag and the jacket she’d thrown over the back of her chair. “Can I call you if I have questions?”

“You know you can,” I said, as I hugged her goodbye.  Paula walked down the path from my front door to her car. I called after her. “Remember how lucky you are!” She got in her car and waved at me, backed out of the driveway and headed off to fight her dragons.

I sat in the chair by my front door to watch the birds squabbling over the food I’d put out for them earlier. I thought about how lucky I was. And I thought about how lucky Paula was.

Sometimes when the caca hits the fan it’s hard to think about how lucky we are. Sad children, sickness, divorce, unemployment, a financial hiccup, any of life’s challenges can make you feel lower than the belly of a snake. But focusing on what’s not working in our lives won’t get us to a better place.

I hoped Paula would remember to count her blessings. Sure, she might not have as much money as she wished she did and maybe she wished she didn’t have to spend so much money getting rid of her debt, but she has a good job, which is better than a lot of other folks around the world. And her mortgage payment, as hefty as it might be, means she has a home of her own.

There will always be times when we get frustrated, even angry at our circumstances. There’s a Dr. Seuss book called, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? Here’s a quote: “When you think things are bad,?when you feel sour and blue, ?when you start to get mad…?You should do what I do!? Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!”

Counting your blessings before you fall asleep or when you first wake up in the morning is another way to focus on how lucky you are. What better way to pull positive energy into your life than saying thank you for the gifts you’ve been given?

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Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Gail Vaz-Oxlade wants YOU! Join MyMoneyMyChoices.com to get smarter about your money and help others get smarter about theirs. Isn’t it time we eliminated financial illiteracy? Come find me on Google+ and on Twitter.

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15 Responses to “Chapter 3: Debt Delusions (Part 4)”

  1. avatar Leslie-Anne Says:
    July 16, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Amen to that.

  2. Gail – I LOVE when you quote Dr. Seuss! I always tell people you can learn so much from children and childrens’ books! Please keep reminding us to count our blessings! I try to do this every night but it gets difficult at times when you are down on your luck.

  3. avatar Victoria R Says:
    July 16, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Hi Pal, I feel lucky to have you as a friend. Love this post as it reminds me to think of the Big Picture. As my mom says, if it can be solved with money it isn’t a problem, but a financial decision.

  4. When I keep my mind on positive things and don’t feel sorry for myself my wants subside considerably. We really do have all we need.

  5. Yes, this post ties together positive attitude by recognizing what is good in your life and not just focusing on the negative. This helps to provide clarity of true needs vs wants and in the end will help with financial strength.

    It allows us to drop the dead weight and go for our goals and what needs to be done without getting drowned in our sorrow.

    Great constructive post!

  6. I think I needed to be reminded today of how lucky I am. thanks.

  7. I am fortunate that I am in solid shape financially but I have had to deal with some other hard knocks and I am always grateful when someone reminds me to count my blessings.

  8. I find when I get down I acknowledge that at least I have my health. I believe someone may have all the wealth in the world but if they don’t have their health, they have nothing.

  9. Thank you Gail! This blog just helped remind me of just how lucky I am. I count my blessings that I have my health and my family has their health. That my mother just celebrated her 89th birthday on Sunday and is still in good health. That I still have my MIL with us and she will turn 94 this month although in poor health but still with us. And I count my blessings that you came into my life to help me to achieve DFF and to put my brother on the road to DFF! Thank you with all my heart…you are a blessing too!

  10. “This was no time for games, this was no time for fun; this was no time for tricks, there was work to be done!”

  11. When I think of counting my blessings, I always flash back to Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas singing:

    When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
    I count my blessings instead of sheep
    And I fall asleep counting my blessings
    When my bankroll is getting small
    I think of when I had none at all
    And I fall asleep counting my blessings

  12. Definifely needed this post. Thanks gail!

  13. If anyone is lacking in gratitude and feeling impoverished, they should go to this website to see how their income compares with the rest of the world:

    http://www.globalrichlist.com/

    I’m a single mom with 3 kids and my annual income still puts me in the top 0.74 percent of the world richest people when compared with the rest of the world.

    I will always remember a time where my in-laws basement had flooded, ruining the floors and walls and all their furniture and possessions stored there. I said to my father-in-law, “It’s a tragedy!” He replied, “Nobody died. It’s just an inconvenience.” So true. We have so much to be thankful for.

  14. Thanks for two reminders – that we are blessed every day and need to focus on the positives, and to never cash in RRSP’s to pay down debt. I made that mistake and it had unanticipated downsides, such as increasing my year’s income prompting the tax man to require me to pay my next year’s taxes in installments [doubling the amount of tax that was deducted that entire year!], and causing my OAS to claw back almost all my monthly pension :( . A hard lesson learned – wish you’d published your Rules book a year earlier, Gail!

  15. So true Gail. How easy it is to forget that if we have food in our belly, cloths on our back and a roof over our head we are very blessed.

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