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The Before Story – How I Was Feeling

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Until a couple of months ago I was freaked out and stressed about my finances and had been for many years. Check out my background story for the sorry details of why. I was acting out of balance with my income, felt scared of facing my financial state, avoided if I could and procrastinated around many things to do with my personal finances.

What was I doing and feeling?

I would go on spending sprees whenever the whim to spend took me

Buying clothing, shoes, cafe and restaurant meals felt good (a quick fix if you like)

I would avoid looking at bank and credit card statements detailing my spending

I would not pay bills in an on time in a regular manner – I’d leave them to the last minute and worse would pay them after the due date and miss out on early payment discounts, pay late fees and in some cases have to pay my bills using my credit card as I had spent too much on clothes, beauty products, entertainment or food from my main account

I had no idea what my bank balance was and would avoid looking at it

I would face the embarrassment of having EFTPOS transactions declined if I had run out of funds in that account (due to over spending)

I had tried living on a budget and failed and so having fallen off the wagon just gave up

I went on holidays and got further into debt because it was usually all on credit

I said yes to social invitations to do things that cost money I did not have (more debt)

Saying yes to others was more important to me than looking after my own personal financial wellbeing

I was overly generous when buying gifts for friends and family – that I could not afford

The dream of owning my home seemed an impossible one for me

I had been made redundant from my job in 2009 and used the loss of income (during the time between jobs) as an excuse for not being more financially sorted

I felt like an idiot about my finances

I did not want to admit this to anyone, not even my family

I was living under the weight of all this worry and stress every day

I had my head stuck in the sand financially

Scarier even than the challenge of repaying the debt, was the knowing that it is critical to plan for my retirement but feeling so out of control with my spending, and debt levels, that I was aware I was living on the vapour of hope that someday this whole subject would get sorted by magic. I knew it wouldn’t, but who wants to face the harsh reality of needing to change? Not me at the time.

I knew that Kiwi Saver was a good idea but I had not taken action to start it as I did not know how much I would need to pay and if I could afford it. Should I be paying back my debt first? And I wasn’t doing that effectively so I procrastinated around Kiwi Saver.

People will talk to you about sex, drugs, incest, gambling and all sorts of other addictions, but not about our personal financial stuff particularly if it is not pretty. There is some kind of assumption (or at least I felt this is so) that we are supposed to know about money and finances. That somehow we should have learned this key skill set as we grew up. And if we haven’t learned good financial habits, so much of the messaging in the media tells how important it is to get sorted that when you haven’t you feel a right noddy for not being more on to it.

A middle class, middle income woman with a university education shouldn’t be in this situation, right. Wrong, I was in a financial pickle and I needed help!

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