To solve a problem you have to recognize your share of responsibility. If you only blame the others, you will never solve it.
- Admit you did some things wrong. Chances are if you are just starting this journey you know you messed up, maybe not big, but you know a few things could have been done differently. Don't worry about that part yet. Just admit ya flubbed up even if it's just a little bit here and there. Take a moment to pray for God's guidance and make it a point to trust Him in the process.
- Look at the things you did right. Did you reduce the power bill? start recycling to cut the garbage cost? stretch the grocery budget? Even if it's just you didn't swing by and get that fried chicken from Jack's that's starting to sound sooooo goood right now. It totally counts! Every impulse purchase you resist is money you still have! YAY! Strut it a bit, take your time, pat yourself on the back, dance, do the Cabbage Patch, whatever you need to do, do it. I'll be here when you get back...........you good? okay, hold on to that pumped feeling, oh and grab yourself a coffee or tea. (Homemade of course! You don't wanna ruin that vibe by buying one!)
- Look at your bank statements and balance them. (I will leave links below to sites I've found helpful from here on out.) Yeeeeaaaaah..... lots of us probably needed that coffee/tea. Take a breather if you need to and revisit the second step if you need to. Those of you that are breathing a sigh of relief, good, it's not as bad as you thought and that is always a good thing.
- Now, this next bit was the hardest part for me, Gather all your debt information, late fees, unpaid bills, credit cards, student loans, mortgage, whatever. (Don't include monthly bills here, that's different, we are looking at the total amounts, and not individual payments.) Don't worry about getting it all done in one shot. Take a couple of days if you need it to get all the paperwork together. Make calls if you have to so that you have up to date and accurate information. Now add all those numbers together. I'll be here when you're done, take your time. The first time I did this I was lucky. It wasn't as bad as I thought. The second time I was kicking myself for not being more attentive to it. Don't make the mistake I did and get complacent. Debt is debt and it needs to be paid attention to or it can get overwhelming.
- Now, take a deep breath and exhale. Look at the positives here. You now have a clearer picture of your strengths and weaknesses. In my case, food for both........don't judge... I can make a good tasting wholesome meal for pennies, but I do love having the convenience of making everyone happy in one shot and I do so love a good burger! Many of you have talents like couponing, gardening, bartering, diy, and all kinds of things that can help save or even earn some money. Acknowledge them, and know there are people that would love to have skills like yours. I for one, would love for a greener thumb, and better math skills. (I know, I know the math is suuuch a shock! hahahaha!)
- Last but not least, go back to step number one. Forgive yourself. You now have the reality of the situation in front of you. You may be relieved, you may be angry, you may be on the verge of tears. Whatever the feelings, may be feel them. Chances are good there is more than one going on right now. Give yourself the gift of time to get adjusted to your financial reality and let ALL the feelings happen. Pray a prayer of thanksgiving because you know now what you need to in order to move forward. If you struggle with forgiving yourself ask God for help there too. I've had to do it more than once. This step has never happened all at once for me. It's a process. The key thing is keep getting back up and giving praise to God for getting this far.
As promised here are the links to sites I've found helpful over the years:
Crown Financial Money Map, helped me to get out of myself and see the bigger picture
FLylady's FACE control journal, helped me to take it in baby steps
Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University , where I cut my teeth on the reality of it
printable check register paper, I usually buy this at an office supply store but it's good to have backup
In all honesty this is the hardest part of the process, at least for me. It isn't easy to look at the unpleasantness we did to ourselves and possibly others, and this is about owning our actions, not about our spouse or kids or whoever/whatever. This is up close and personal between you, yourself, and God. We can do this. ((((Hugs))))