I went to Confessions of a Shopaholic on Friday evening, a rare treat, right before the flu hit me hard. The movie was really entertaining, and I have a new love for Isla Fisher. She lights up the screen. I definitely think it’s worth a rental when it comes on DVD, it’s probably not one you have to see in the theater. If I was giving it a rating I’d say 4 1/2 stars. I especially love the candy colors in the film, and the costumes. It was a welcome relief to the dreary gray in the sky, and the illness the kids were dealing with at home. Was it a necessary expense? Not by a long shot, but it felt really good to get away for a little while.
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I can suspend reality for 2 hours, but when it was over it got me thinking. The character in the movie played by Isla Fisher, Rebecca Bloomwood, is a shopaholic. She is in such deep credit card debt that she is being pursued by a debt collectors.
SPOILER ALERT By the end of the movie she has the magical movie transformation: she loses everything, and has to find a way to get it all back with some ingenious plan that somehow makes everything in her world right again. In this case she sells all her designer clothes and accessories at an auction, and of course she ends up with the exact dollar amount she needs to pay off her debt. I don’t know about you, but that might work if I was a fictional character, but I doubt anyone will pay what I paid for any of the things I bought on credit. (anyone want a $4,000 worth of dental work, already used?)
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In fact we have very little to show for our debt, as I imagine most Americans with consumer debt are at least slightly in the same shoes. Most middle American families carry debt because of emergencies, and medical debt.
I have not much to show for our debt, and we’ve been decluttering and selling unneeded items as we have time to sort them, but selling all our belongings will NOT pay off our debt.
I wish there was some magical solution, but it may take us 18 months-2 years to get out of debt.
Most of the debt we carry on credit is from medical debt, moving expenses, and emergencies. I admit we weren’t exactly spendthrift when it comes to certain areas, and we’ve always been a bit backwards about finances. Paying for our bills, needs and wants, and then anything “leftover” would be saved or put towards debt. Guess how much that was most months?
I like to shop, and I could fully imagine being in Rebecca’s shoes if I were single, and young, and had no rent to pay! For now shopping is not something I’m doing much of unless it’s a neccesity. I look forward to the day when the debt is all paid off, and our goals are all on track, when I can spend money guilt-free!
The positive in all this is that it has finally woken us up to how we want to live our lives. I realize we COULD have the things we want, we just can’t have them all right now.
Our plan for now is to stay focused, and continue to watch every penny we spend. We have had some slip ups and it made me realize we need to make room in the budget for a rare treat for ourselves, and it needed to be something meaningful that we can look forward to.
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I’ve slashed the budget too far in monthly spending, and decided to increase my monthly spending goal by 10%. When we don’t spend that money one month it will rollover to the next month in case we have larger expenses that month. This extra money will also act as a mini emergency fund. If it gets too full we’ll send it to one of our debts.
One of the most important things though is that we are all workng as a team. The kids have seen our goal chart and know that we’re paying off debt. When I decided to splurge for tickets to a show in April, my husband knew it would be a good motivator for us to continue to penny-pinch over the next few months. We rarely get couple time so this is a great motivator.
How do you keep on track? What do you enjoy spending your money on?