How to Live Your Life Above Your Circumstances

Her letter was long. Page after page she went on about every aspect of her miserable life.

In between the accounts of her husband’s unemployment and her high blood pressure, this woman managed to weave each and every detail of their broken down cars, leaking roof, busted faucets, ungrateful children, delinquent taxes, nosy neighbors, empty retirement account and unpaid bills.

I’m telling you, by the time I reached the word that for me spelled relief (Sincerely), I was nearly worn out.

Couple-Jumping with Joy above their circumstances

My immediate reaction was a sympathetic, “Oh, you poor thing!” I mean really, the way she carried on I was nearly convinced she was enduring troubles and pressures way beyond the legal limit. Her situation as she described it did appear to be without solution.

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When Holiday Debt Hangs On Long After the Gifts are Forgotten

Got debt? I could be wrong, but if you’re revolving a big credit card balance I’m guessing at least some of it is holiday-related.

Sadly, holiday debt can hang on long after the gifts are forgotten.


Young couple worried need help in stress at home debt bills bank papers expenses and payments feeling desperate in bad financial situation

So what’s the problem here? Procrastination. When it comes to Christmas, the longer you wait, the more you’ll spend and the more you spend the more likely you are to look to credit for the funds.

Everyone procrastinates a little, but some of us procrastinate about everything. Why do we do that? Internal conflict.

We feel overwhelmed

We put a lot of holiday pressure on ourselves. But then add to that the expectations of others and it can be overwhelming—even paralyzing. So we do nothing until it’s so late our only choice is to spend whatever it takes to squeak by.

We overestimate our time

From where we sit now, Christmas seems far away. We tell ourselves we have plenty of time—more than enough.

We overestimate our abilities

Procrastinators have an unrealistic sense of time. If we believe we can finish the task in say three hours, we put it off until only three hours remain. That leaves no margin, no room for error—no allowance for the law of life that says things rarely go as planned.

We have to do it perfectly

Experts tell us at the root of procrastination is perfectionism. Because we feel we have to do everything perfectly we do nothing rather than run the risk of failing.

We say we work better under pressure

Waiting until the last minute can provide quite an adrenalin rush. Procrastinators believe they cannot operate without that creative surge and so they sit back and wait for it to kick in.

The secret to overcoming procrastination is figuring out what’s behind the fear. Start by identifying the situations that have left you paralyzed by procrastination in the past.

As it relates to Christmas specifically, ask yourself: What price have I paid in past years for waiting until the last minute? Do I really want to pay that price again next year?

If the answer to the last question is yes, forget that I even brought it up. You don’t need to be thinking about the holidays yet.

If on the other hand, you are not willing to go into debt this year, here are simple steps to stop procrastinating.

Get started

Once you are in motion it’s easier to keep going.

Write it down

Reduce your plans to paper. Seeing things in black and white eliminates the unknown, which cause a lot of fear.

Work with the time you have

Make a simple timeline, and then break the project down into small, manageable parts. Even five minutes is enough time to get something done when you have a plan.

Set a series of small deadlines

As an example, give yourself a date one week from today to have your gift list written. Share your deadline with someone who will nudge you toward accountability.

Find the simpler way

Now, while you are still months away from experiencing the powerful emotions of the season, determine ways you can reasonably scale back and simplify.

Be opportunistic

Whether it’s picking up shells along the shore to adorn a picture frame or finding a bargain collectible at a tag sale during your fall travels, take full advantage of the opportunities.

Be realistic

Set reasonable limits both in time and money, and then stick to them.

For once, time is on your side. Here we are in January with eleven-twelfths of 2019 still ahead. Take a deep breath then determine that you’ll make the most of it!

Need help?

Feeling hopeless, buried under debt? I can’t promise to fix your situation, but I am available to listen. Write to me. I may be able to point you in the right direction to find the help you need—help that could turn your life around. No cost, no obligation and must of all, no judging.

I’ve been where you are, I know that lost feeling of hopelessness. By the grace of God, I am not where I was and grateful I’m not yet where I yet will be.

The Cost of Dipping Into a Retirement Account

More people are taking loans from their retirement accounts—(401(k), 403(b) or what have you—than ever, simply because they can. Here’s the problem: Seeing one’s retirement account as a savings account or worse, a personal ATM machine. That’s so ridiculous I cannot even tell you. Sure it’s your money, but it’s not your money now. It’s for later. It is out of your reach, so you need to get it out of your mind.

Borrowing from the nest egg, from retirement savings


Pre-tax dollars

The beauty of an IRS-approved retirement account is that you get to save pre-tax dollars. It’s no secret that what you see in your paycheck is not the full amount you earned.

In fact, the amount in your paycheck is shrinking and many of our elected officials are trying to shrink that even farther by increasing taxes. You know what I mean if you live in California one of the most heavily taxed state with a governor who is threatening to once again increase sales tax, personal income tax, and taxes on small businesses. Did I mention my husband and I left California for this very reason? But I digress ….

A retirement account allows you to save your money before it gets taxed. If you take your money home, you have to earn about $1.00 to see $.75 in your paycheck. But if you put it that dollar into a retirement account instead, you get to deposit the entire $1.00. You get to invest the $.25 that belongs to the government. It’s not a gift; you will have to pay that $.25 to the government eventually. But for now you get to keep all the growth you will achieve by investing the government’s money! Get it? And it’s all locked up so it is safe from YOU. That’s the beauty of a retirement account. Read more