Friday, August 5, 2011

Stress In A Basket

I've been reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's Peace and Plenty: Finding Your Path to Financial Security.  As you probably remember.  She walks the reader through the steps of dealing with our difficult financial situations as she walks through her own after things didn't go so well with the millions of dollars she earned from her best-seller, Simple Abundance.

In one chapter, she says to gather up you bills into one place from the pile on the kitchen counter or the bag in the closet or wherever they're stashed.  "You are going to collect every bill sent your way and bring them all to the party," she says.  Check.  I have the pile on the counter, the stack in the bench seat, and big basket lurking near my bed for the ready accessibility and convenience of my nightmares.  I know I need to sort through them and throw away the many duplicates.  That will wrangle them all into the one basket.  But I know what's there.  I don't need to open them.  The figures have each worn their own deep path into my brain. 

Not pretty.  I considered going back and taking a prettier picture.  But why?

Then, she says, put the bills into three piles:  Current Bills, Past Due 30-60 Days, and Old Debts.
I have basically two piles:  Bills I Need To Pay This Month (or something will be turned off) and Old Debts. 

Next, she says "Once you have budgeted for the essentials -- food, clothing, shelter, child care, savings, transportation, and insurance -- you will have a good idea of how much money you can put toward debt reduction.  This become the pot of money you dip into to pay the rest of your bills."

SAVINGS?  INSURANCE?  Clearly, Miss Sarah does not understand my situation.  Savings is that thing I'll have someday after my debts are paid.  As for insurance, I have done without health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, and property insurance for a very long time.  Oh, and that AFLAC policy I'd love to have too (Quack!).  Recently, I was able to get auto insurance again through Mark's business fleet policy.  That provides much relief as the first thing I did when my auto insurance expired last February was back into a car.  That is one of the bills I am now paying on monthly ($50 a month on $1800). 

Next she says "If there is a particular debt that bothers you, then take 1 to 10 percent of the pot and make an honor payment toward the balance owed."  Right.  The only way I would have extra money to put in the "pot" to pay debts with would be if I went without basic utilities, food, or the fuel that gets me to work.  "Ok kids!  Let's not eat this month so we can pay off some bills!"  Sure. 

But then, I must remember Sarah's perspective.  When her financial troubles descended, she had to move out of her castle.

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