Do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got!

You would think by now that nothing would surprise me but I’ve got to admit nothing ceases to surprise more than people claiming they’re ‘broke’, often coming to me in tears because they’re in a mess with money yet they refuse to do anything to help themselves get out of the situation they’re in.

Now that might sound harsh but when you consider that I get a handful of calls and/or emails from individuals each month all worrying about their money situation and asking me how they can save money, improve the situation or in worst case scenarios how to talk to their creditors.

To each of these people I stress that I’m not a financial advisor, can’t give them any formal advice but can tell them either what I did when I was in a similar situation or what I would do in their shoes.

Getting yourself into financial strife is the easy bit, getting yourself out of it takes hard work, determination, perseverance and time.

I’ve created Ebooks and tip sheets which all detail steps I took to save money but it seems everyone, almost without exception, expects their money situation to improve WITHOUT making any lifestyle changes! Well, you know what? I think it was Einstein who said “do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what what you’ve always got”. Think about it, if you’re in financial difficulty but refuse to make any changes to your lifestyle you’re never going to get out of financial difficulty. There is NO secret, no magic wand that can be waved, it’s down to you.

No one is forcing you to spend money. You might have squillions of pounds of credit available to you but you don’t have to spend it. You might want the latest fashions, a new car, a luxury holiday but if you can’t afford it you’ll have to either wait until you’ve got enough money for it or you’ll have to downgrade and purchase something you can afford.

My bankruptcy was my fault, I was the person who made the decisions that caused that to happen. No one was forcing me to make those decisions. Likewise, it was down to me to make the relevant changes when I needed to stop spending, start saving, pay my creditors and rebuild my life. It was hard work, it took time, effort and plenty of tears. It meant missing out on things for a while, wearing clothes a couple of years old and for a short while being without a car. I had to accept second-hand furniture to furnish my flat, only replacing the furniture as I could afford to, I even accepted and wore second-hand clothes before it was trendy to go to style-swap parties. I dyed my own hair and didn’t see the inside of a hairdressing salon for about 4 years, getting friends to trim my hair or occasionally splashing out on a mobile hairdresser coming to my home.

It was embarrassing and a far cry from what I’d been used to but I had no choice, if I wanted to see a change in my finances I had to make changes to my lifestyle. Yes I had treats but they were monthly instead of weekly. Or I went without.

Changes to your finances WILL NOT HAPPEN if you bury your head in the sand and continue spending like you have done before. You have to make changes to your lifestyle. Believe me, a year or two’s difficulty now will be worth it to change your financial situation for your future.

There’s no time like the present so what are you waiting for?

Guest Blog: How to arm yourself for lean times.

Those of us old enough will know that recessions are cyclical and that through the course of our lifetimes will likely have to endure several of them.  Guest blogger, Andy Masaki gives some sterling advice for ensuring we never have to endure such tough lean times again.  As an American Andy’s viewpoint is obviously based on his experiences in the USA but his advice is just as valid for the rest of us wherever we’re based in the World.  Enjoy.

Arm Yourself for the Next Big Recession.

This is supposed to be a stage for recovery but the housing bust, the alarmingly high debt level in Europe and the tapped-out consumers are about to produce a far uglier scenario. As the economy was recovering from the aftermath of the previous recession, the fiscal cliff is soon approaching and this storm is perhaps going to remind us again of the Great Depression. Very few people in the nation are well-armed to combat the consequences of the approaching recession. In order to emerge successful as an individual amidst the economic crisis, you have to follow certain financial tips. If your money starts controlling you, you will soon start losing control over your finances and incur debts that can be repaid through debt consolidation and debt management. Don’t let this happen, follow the tips below  to stay afloat in this economic state.

  • Start saving more money: Yes, this tip might sound obvious but most of the Americans aren’t doing it. Most economists believe that people should save at least 6-10% of their monthly income, irrespective of the amount that they make in a month. Despite all such advice, the savings rate is paltry 3.5% as an increasingly large number of consumers are still trying to control the mighty urge to purchase things. If you want to be equipped for the recession in 2013, you should make sure that you save more than 10% of the income that you make in a month.
  • Always create a Plan B: We’re usually habituated with creating Plan A for executing things but very few of us actually create a backup plan called Plan B that can support us in case the prior one falls short of our expectations. Personally, you might be out of the woods, but if the economy turns south again, the employers could trim their employees, cut their take-home pay and also reduce the hours again. Therefore, you should be equipped with contingency plans if you want to stay afloat. (Contact Deborah if you want to find out more about her Plan B).
  • Curb using credit and stay liquid: Even though you have a rainy day fund, this won’t be of any good if you can’t use it or if you tend to lose money by selling off your stocks or other investments. Even though there are personal loans with affordable interest rates, you should always keep maintaining a cash cushion by keeping aside money. Restrict the usage of credit cards at the same time as this will help you keep debts at bay.
  • Start something to boost your income: As long as your employer approves of the venture, it shouldn’t hurt to do another consulting work on the other side so as to help boost your monthly income. There are various online money making opportunities that you can take resort to in order to enhance your passive income level. Making money affiliate marketing and content writing are two of the most common options to try out. (Contact Deborah for more ideas or look at http://www.deborah-meredith.com to see how she now boosts her income in various areas)

As the US lawmakers attempt to take steps to reduce the swollen US budget deficit, the Americans can’t assume that the government will be of any help. Since it’s time to be more self-sufficient, you could choose to follow the above mentioned financial steps through which you can keep debts at bay.

Time – Your most Valuable Commodity

Wow!  I can hardly believe it’s now 3 years since my World fell apart.  Yes, New Year’s Eve 2008 was when my business became insolvent and my World as I knew it ceased to be, it’s almost 3 years since my marriage ended,  It’s 2.5 years since I was declared bankrupt and 1.5 years since I’ve been a discharged bankrupt.

Looking at it written down like that it seems as if I’m reading about someone else.  So much GOOD STUFF has happened in the past 3 years, although I didn’t realise how good some of it was at the time.  I remember thinking 3 years ago, when I knew that bankruptcy was only around the corner, that 6 years (the time it will affect my credit rating) was such a long time but I’m almost half way through that too.  And it’s almost the same amount of time since I said “I’m going to make sure no-one else has to go through what I’ve gone through, alone”.

It’s so easy to look back and think of only the bad stuff but I like to think about all I’ve achieved.  Isn’t it funny that when we’ve just come out of a bad relationship we can only remember the good stuff but when we start to think about our relationship with ourselves we become incredibly critical?

It’s been well-documented in my blog that I was suicidal on a number of occasions over the past 3 years and it’s fair to say that most of those occasions were around the Christmas/New Year period.  So it’s really lovely to be able to say now that I have just had the best Christmas/New Year that I’ve had for many years.  There was no major extravagance but I had the Christmas I wanted.  My son was with me for most of the holiday and his Dad and I both got to spend time with him on Christmas Day.

We (Other Half, my son and I) were due to go to a friend’s party on New Year’s Eve which we were really looking forward to, but unfortunately my back decided to give up that morning and I spent the day between the bed and the sofa, high on painkillers.  So rather than complain about not going out, Other Half dashed out to the supermarket, picked up some party food and we cracked open a bottle of Prosecco we’d been given.  My son loved that he got to stay up until midnight, in fact I got woken up at 11.30pm by him to make sure I would be awake for midnight – I’d given up and fallen asleep by 10.30pm!

The best bit about the whole holidays?  It wasn’t anything to do with what I’ve wasted so much time fretting over during the past 3 years i.e. the amount of money I didn’t spend on someone, the best bit was the TIME I got to spend with my son.  To be completely involved in the moment with him doing whatever it was that he wanted me to be involved with.  We’ve cwtched up (cwtch is the Welsh word for hug – but it’s better than a hug) and watched films & TV.  He’s painted and drawn pictures for me and the Other Half, we’ve gone for walks – my back and the weather permitting. He’s had great fun catching me, and the rest of the family, out with his ‘whoopee cushion’ and we’ve plenty of good, old-fashioned board games.

I got to catch up with family and friends and spend quality time with them.  In all the upset of the past few years I’ve hidden myself away and not wanted to be around other people, this year, although it felt strange doing just that, I made the effort to give my TIME and  when we get to worrying about Christmas this year, I’ll make sure I remember just how often people have said, “it was so nice to get to spend some TIME with you”.

Time really is your most valuable commodity.  Try to remember that this year, when you’re worrying about making your last few dollars or pounds stretch a little bit further, they’ll buy you instant gratification but it will be the time you spend with someone that will give them and you the greatest memories.

Even when you think you have NOTHING to give – your time will be the best gift.

Happy New Year and here’s to a fantastic 2012.

If you need support whilst coping with bankruptcy or financial difficulty you can sign up and receive “The A-to-Z of Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy” FREE by clicking this link.

Why my Christmas will be Priceless

I’ve just spent the morning wrapping my son’s Christmas presents and I’ve been so grateful that I’ve been able to do it.

This time last year I didn’t think life was worth living and I really believed that my son’s life would change for the better if I didn’t exist.  Christmas was a horrible time for me last year, all of his Christmas presents came from freecycle and I felt awful for not being able to buy him what he really wanted.  I had even got ‘new’ clothes for him and me from freecycle.  Although I remain eternally grateful to such a resource as without it, there’d have been no presents to open.

I was in a really desperate and lonely place and firmly believed that the solution lay at the bottom of a cliff, a bottle and a pile of pills.  That time is now a very fuzzy memory and I really don’t recall much of last Christmas.  I think that’s what they call selective memory.

Thankfully I was able to fast-forward in my mind to a time when my son is a bit older and friends ask him what happened to his mum.  What would he say?  “My mum thought I’d be better off without her so she took her own life.”  I couldn’t bear the thought of how he would handle that in years to come and chose not to take that option.  Instead I took a whole heap of other decisions, some good, some bad and some downright stupid but I did what I felt I needed to do in order to survive and keep a roof over my head.

But, one thing I did that I really shouldn’t have done is to shut off communication with the people who really could help me.  I had a very long and open conversation with a friend at the end of last week who said “I really feel as if I let you down”.  He’s not the first friend to have said that to me and I told him that he didn’t let me down.  It was my choice not to let anyone in, my choice to shut myself off and my choice not to ask for help.

Remembering last Christmas is why my A to Z of Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy is now free.  Whilst I was going through the dark times of bankruptcy and financial difficulty I kept saying “As long as I can help someone else to cope with it then it will have been worth while.”  I’ve set a crazy goal; To help 1,000,000 people to cope with the emotional fall-out of bankruptcy and financial difficulty.

I’m so grateful now that I took the decisions I took last Christmas.  They may not have been the best or wisest decisions but at least my son will still have Christmas with his mum to look forward to and that, as far as I’m concerned, is priceless and I’d do it all again given the same set of circumstances.

Don’t let bankruptcy or financial difficulty stop you from enjoying the most precious things in your life – your family and friends.  Hop over to my site, www.deborah-meredith.com  and sign up to the A to Z today.  You can also sign up to receive the e-books I’ve written, they’re all free and designed to help you.  I’ve also included a list of books I read that may help you (purchased from Amazon’s USED list)

 

Weight loss, Friends, Action and Helping 1 million people

I’ve been quite reflective this week.  In my previous post I talked about attitude and how it can dictate the way things turn out for you and my reflection has shown me that too.

I launched my first e-course on 1st October.  In the weeks prior to that I’d had to learn a lot very quickly.  As I lay in my bed recovering from slipped disks and a miscarriage I realised that the cathartic writing I was doing may just help a few people who were facing similar problems surrounding bankruptcy and financial difficulty.  What I also realised is that unless I took some action to get my writing in front of those people then I wouldn’t ever be able to help them.  So I had no choice, I had no spare cash so I had to learn how to get to those people.  I gave myself a crash-course on creating a website, using social media, creating e-courses and blogging.  I’m still learning and have a long way to go but if I hadn’t taken that action I wouldn’t have been able to help the 30 people who have signed up to my course so far.  I know they’re grateful for the help I’ve given them (I’ve read the emails) and I hope to be able to help so many more.

What if I could help 1 million people in the World to cope with bankruptcy and financial difficulty?  Just putting it out there you understand (Universe – are you listening?)

But I also had to take some more action.  People have said to me that I’m lucky, that I always land on my feet well believe me, in the past couple of years I didn’t feel that lucky and certainly didn’t feel as if I’d landed on my feet all the time.  You see, in order to be as lucky as people perceived me to be I had to put in an awful lot of hard work.

I don’t feel lucky, I feel blessed, because thanks to the hard work and effort I put in to building my previous business I am fortunate to have surrounded myself with incredibly inspiring people, many of whom have become good friends.  It’s these people, and my oldest friends, who helped me to remain positive over the past few years.  Yes, there were some major dips which I’ve spoken about before and will no doubt talk about again, but on the whole, it was the support of those friends, too numerous to mention but with whom I now converse (across all media) far more regularly than before that got me to where I am now.  It was that support and the effort I took into building that network that enabled me to continuously find work, any work to bring in some income (not always enough to meet my outgoings but it was something), and when I say ANY work, I mean ANY work.  I was asking contacts “Do you know anyone, who might know anyone, who might be able to give me some work?”.  My pride had to be well and truly swallowed.  I’d only ever applied for benefits once in my life and it was the most degrading experience, bar none, that I’ve ever had.  It’s not something I was prepared to put myself through again and I don’t expect I ever will.

What I’m saying is, that I had to take ACTION in order to get results.   I took a lot of ACTION prior to my bankruptcy and that enabled me to survive it.  I had to take a lot of ACTION and do a lot of learning to bring my courses, e-books and blogs to life to try to help a few more people.  I’m having to take even more ACTION to develop more courses, webinars and a book as well as re-launching a previous business venture.

And ACTION doesn’t just effect your business or work-life.  As a result of being bed-ridden for so long I’ve put on weight – about 2 stone.  I’ve done nothing but moan to my partner about how awful I’ve felt but up until now I’ve done nothing about it.  My diet has always been healthy but I knew a few more tweaks could improve it no end.  This week I actually took ACTION, I tweaked my diet and started jogging.

I knew the Universal Truth that more movement + fewer calories = weight loss.  And taking this ACTION made me ponder again: What if I could help 1 million people in the World to cope with bankruptcy and financial difficulty?  What ACTION would I need to take?

Guess what?  I’m already feeling better for it, we’re now on day 3 and I’ve been jogging twice (today I actually managed to get to the same spot as before with less breaks and in quicker time).  I’m beginning to feel so much better about myself that even the Other Half has commented on the change in me.

In order to make changes you have to take ACTION.  One of my favourite quotes is “Do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got”.

The only person who can help you out of bankruptcy or financial difficulty relatively unscathed is you.  I can give you some tools and the benefit of my experience but if you don’t want to take ACTION then you won’t get results.

The same applies for any area of your life that you want to change.  The next e-course, “Exploring the Bankrupt’s Route to Recovery” launching on 1st December explores this in further detail.

I’d love to know what ACTION you’re taking now to make positive changes in your life.

Putting things into perspective.

At 11am today people across the UK stopped what they were doing for 2 minutes and honoured our heroes.  The men and women who fought for our freedom in both World Wars and all conflicts since then.

It’s times like this that my problems really get put into perspective.  It’s something I’m grateful for and something I talk about on the courses along “The Bankrupt’s Route to Recovery”.

Going through bankruptcy and/or financial difficulty isn’t fun by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s difficult, it’s challenging and times it’s down right horrible and can lead those of us going through it down some very dark roads.  There were times where suicide was a very viable alternative for me but for some reason, just as I was about to push myself to the place of no return, a voice would appear in my conscience, remembering all those people who had supported me so far and reminding me that despite all that was going on I really did have everything to live for.

Today, I’m so grateful that I chose to weather the storm.  I still get down days, I’d be lying if I told you that I’m super-positive and energised every day of the week and that I leap out of bed every morning with a smile on my face (in fact, I really don’t do mornings so anyone who sees me before 10am is privileged if they get a grunt let alone a smile!  Spare a thought for the other half – it’s taken time but he now knows not to talk to me until I’ve had my cup of tea and at least an hour to ‘come to’!!!).

Now that I’m on the other side of bankruptcy I’m so grateful for what I’ve got.  I’ve spent the week meeting and talking to truly inspirational people, all of whom have had to overcome their own adversity to get to where they are today. All of them had seriously down days along the route but every single one of them had the same thing in common – they all had self-belief and an unerring belief that everything will be alright in the end.

Now either I’ve just met a group of people who are as barking mad as I am or we’ve all realised something, that you become what you expect to become.  We all believe in the power of the Universe and the Law of Attraction i.e. Like Attracts Like.  By remaining positive in the depths of adversity we haven’t allowed ourselves to be suffocated by it.  Keep an eye on where you want to be in 2 or 3 years time.

One of the exercises we’ll do whilst “Exploring the Bankrupt’s Route to Recovery” (launching on 1st December) asks you to think about where you want to be in 3 years time.  It’s powerful stuff.

Today, whilst we give thanks to those who fought for our freedom, think about all you have to live for.  Those men and women didn’t have the opportunity to have a future, you do.  Be grateful for that fact and work out what you need to do to get to where you want to be.  Then trust that it will happen.

Have a great weekend and relax in the knowledge that whatever you focus on happening WILL happen.

Walk a mile in my shoes………then judge me.

This evening I’m fortunate to be attending the launch event of a women’s networking/support group called I Am Woman.  It’s a prestigious event being held in Cardiff City Hall and the theme is “Walking in my Shoes”.  All attendees have been asked to wear a pair of shoes that represent their life.  I’m going to wear my favourite Louis Vuitton boots (pictured here)  that I bought about 12 years ago (so I guess that makes them vintage now!) They’re checked and I thought that they represent a slightly chequered past!

My Favourite Boots

Not only do these boots make me feel fabulous, they take me back to a time when I was much younger and carefree.  I spent every penny I earned and partied until I dropped.  I had a ball.  If I’d known then what I know now I would have saved some of that hard-earned and quite possibly wouldn’t have become bankrupt.  However, every one of the 80 pairs of shoes in my wardrobe tells a story although I’m sure if I’d sold some of them a few years ago I could have repaid my debts, but for me, parting with my shoes is like asking me to cut off my arm!

Having said that, the boots I wore to the Halloween party a few weeks ago are now once again relegated to the dressing up box.  How on earth I thought I could walk in them I don’t know – I’m still sporting the bruises on my knees from tripping over on the dance floor but still, here’s a photo of me and my little sister (I’m the one on the left) being witches for the night.  Halloween WitchesCostumes were pulled together on no budget from things in the dressing up box.  The boots I wore that night are highly impractical, completely uncomfortable and not something I look forward to wearing again. But for that evening the boots were right for the character and gave everyone, me included a good laugh as I tried to retain my balance on them!  And you know what? I felt fabulous in them and that’s what matters.

Anyway, all this talk of footwear got me to thinking about how we feel about ourselves when we’re going through bankruptcy or financial difficulty.  How do we carry ourselves?  Do we hold our heads up high or do we cower and try to disappear into the background?  I know what I did, it was the latter and I talk about this in my e-courses and will be talking about it in future webinars.

We tend to make assumptions about what other people are thinking about us and usually our assumptions are wrong. In the past week I’ve faced up to some of my fears and talked to people I’ve spent the last couple of years avoiding.  I’ve been frank, open and honest about what it was like to go through bankruptcy and the precise reasons why I took the actions I took at the time I took them.

Not a single person judged me for the actions I took and they understood the reasons why.  I’ve often said “Walk a Mile in my Shoes before you judge me” and I still use it as a mantra today.

You’re welcome to adopt it yourself too.  No-one has a right to judge you unless they’ve been in your situation with exactly the same set of circumstances.

So stop hiding yourself away, be the person you were before and who you can be again.  Be the person you want to be.  Wear your favourite shoes, kick up your heels and enjoy being you.  You don’t have to be down-trodden. I’m giving you permission to have fun