So, you are here today because you would like assistance and a plan to help you get out of 100K credit card debt?
Yes, can you help me with that?
Sure, I can do that! We can set up a budget for you which you can follow every day. It may feel like a drastic change to how you have been living and what you have been spending up to this point, but it will be necessary in order to slowly work your way out of this debt, and to get you into financial health.
OK, let's do it!
So, how did you week one go?
Well, it went OK but I'm really ashamed that I even need to be on this budget, and it's just really really hard, harder than I thought it would be.
What do you mean, you are ashamed to be on the budget?
Every time I think about the fact I have to be on this budget I get sad, and I get mad at myself for having gotten into 100K of credit card debt.
OK, yes, sometimes when we see the result of our prior actions in the cold hard light of day, and know that it doesn't have to be that way, we can feel somewhat ashamed that we needed to see a financial planner or debt counselor, I understand that. But we now have a solution for you to begin reducing that debt in a very systematic way, with a program that is guaranteed to work if you follow it exactly. Can you do that this week?
Sure, I think I can, but it is really hard.
So, how did it go for week two?
Well, it was tough, I struggled, and I ended up buying a few things that weren't on my budget, things I wanted and at the time they made sense for me to buy.
OK, but didn't we work out in your budget the things you absolutely needed, we decided what those were, and you agreed that the budget covered all of your basic expenses?
Yes, I know, but I really wanted this thing and resented the fact I was on a budget, got mad at myself for being 100K in debt and needing a budget in the first place, so I bought it.
OK, well you know that this budget will only work if you follow it, and if you don't this is just a theoretical exercise until you put action to it, right?
Yes. I'll do better this week. I promise. I know I can do this.
So, how did week three go?
I did really well for the first few days, but then I saw something I really wanted and I was out with my other friends who were all buying the same thing. I didn't want to admit to them I was on a budget, and I didn't want to not feel like I was included, so I went ahead and bought it too. The next night we went to a restaurant I knew I couldn't afford, I knew it wasn't in my budget, but I felt ashamed that I couldn't go there with them so I went anyway and put it on my credit card. I didn't want them to judge me or think I couldn't handle my money, and I really didn't want them to know I was trying to live within my means.
The thing I want to relay to you is that you CAN live a financially free life SOON provided you begin to follow this budget NOW. Every day you don't follow this budget you are remaining in the same amount, or more, of debt that you came to me with. Do you WANT to live within your means and be financially healthy?
YES! I do! But I'm ashamed I have to even be ON a budget, and I can't shake that feeling, it makes me feel BAD to be on a budget. But I'll do better this week.
(Client skips meeting)
So, how have the last couple weeks been? How is your budget going?
Well, not good. I just can't seem to get over the fact that I have to be on a budget. So, as they day goes on, I am tempted to buy this or that, and part of me tries to stay strong, but the other part of me goes ahead and buys it, and then I feel really guilty and bad that I didn't follow my budget.
I have a question for you, does this budget feel a bit restrictive or drastic right now because you are comparing it with the way you WERE living which got you into 100K of credit card debt?
Yes, and I'm ashamed to even have to be ON the budget. I do want the debt gone, though, it is really uncomfortable to get the bills every month and wonder how I am going to pay for them and wonder WHEN this debt is going to be gone. I wish someone would just take it away from me and I could start out with a clean slate.
So you desire to have the BENEFITS of having your debt wiped clean but are ASHAMED of having to do the work in order to get there?
Yes, that is exactly what I feel. I know I NEED to be on this budget, but I also want to keep living the way I was living before. And the sooner I can be DONE with this budget the better.
What if it is only in the PROCESS of consistently following the budget and reducing your debt that you learn the skills necessary to stay out of debt and live financially free? If someone just came and took the debt from you, paid it for you, and you had a clean slate, you would be back in here next year with another 100K of credit card debt.
That's a good point. But every time I deviate from my budget even a little bit, I decide "What the Heck" and I buy the other 10 things I've been wanting for awhile. It seems like all this budget is doing is making me crazy and getting me more into debt.
Well, actually it is YOU that is doing that BECAUSE you aren't taking action and following the budget.
You mean the budget isn't to blame?
No. The BUDGET is just a structured system, a way to organize your resources so that daily you are not spending more than you take in, and when we are trying to reduce your 100K credit card debt we are actually structuring it so that you pay down a little bit of your debt every week. We keep doing this until your debt is paid, and it would be the same system whether you owed $100, $10,000, or 100,000. Once the debt is paid you will have more freedom in what you choose to spend your discretionary income one, but right now that is all going to reducing your debt. However, you will always be living with the structure of a budget from here on.
WOW. So the budget is actually a tool to bring structured spending into my life in order to get what I really want, which is financial freedom? It isn't a punishment?
Nope. It is not a punishment at all. It is actually a ticket to freedom.