This is the second post in a series on the three R’s of debt reduction. Read the introduction here. Today, I’m examining what I think is the most important step: reflect.
Take Time to Reflect
As I learned, just taking on more debt to wipe out old debt is a no-win situation. In order to change, I had to really examine what behaviors got me here in the first place. Without examining my old behaviors and anxieties, I couldn’t really move forward. By sitting with my emotions and watching for impulse triggers, I was able to come up with solutions that broke my debt cycle. For example, I often spent money frivilously on little “treats” when I felt uncomfortable. Sometimes, it was as simple as a cup of hot tea on a cold day. Other times, it was more expensive, like a new outfit for a blind date or $200 worth of office supplies for a new job.
Sure “Reflect” Sounds Great, But How Do You Do It?
- Write in a notebook: keep a small notebook with you all the time. Anytime you spend money, jot down how you feel. It’s a common diet trick, but works with money as well. You’ll start to notice patterns as you read back through your notebook.
- Keep a blog: writing to an audience makes you go the extra mile on introspection. As I quickly discovered, blogging forced me to compose posts in my head all the time. Watching my life the way my audience would made me look for things to blog about. That intropection crystalized patterns that had lingered beneath the surface.
- Find a network: a support group, be it family, friends, or virtual, can really help you out. Just talking about money and ways to reduce debt will help you notice things that you can change.
- Just breathe: this one actually helped me the most! Everytime I had an impulse to spend, a few deep breaths recentered me and helped me see the motivation behind the impulse. One day, I walked away from the perfume counter when I realized that bug in my ear was more about keeping up with a friend than about me really needing perfume.
The more that you work to analyze your impulses to spend, the easier it will become. If you want, take a look at some of my earliest posts. They’re all about resisting the urge to spend. As I kept writing, I slowly learned to distinguish my axiety-fueld purchases from more necessary purchases. How about you? How do you reflect on your spending habits?