Do you spend or save?

A number of people have asked me if I’m going to continue this blog now that I have a number of  business interests that are keeping me busy and earning me money.  They ask “Do you feel like you’ve bounced back now?  Are you going to stop your blog?”.  Well the answer is “No” on both counts.

Yes, I’ve bounced back in as much as I now, finally, have the confidence to go back out into the World with a new business venture but I’m still addressing my relationship with money.  I went through a phase of being too scared to spend what I had and now, whilst I’ll gladly spend money, I still have to go through a whole mental process of whether I REALLY need the item, what benefit will it bring to me, do I have something else that will do the job equally as well etc.

I’ve got so used to living frugally that I’ve forgotten how to ENJOY money.

Whilst I no longer feel controlled by it, I’m not certain that I’m totally in control of it either – yet.  I’ll let you know just as soon as I feel I’ve got that sussed but I’ve a feeling it will take quite a while longer.

Has your relationship with money changed significantly since you had financial difficulties? Or have you come out the other side and carried on just as you used to do, thinking “It won’t happen again?”

I love talking to people about money and their attitude to it.  A good friend of mine, Clare Turner Marshall, is the Love Money Guru and she identifies 7 different money types.  I’m constantly fascinated by her findings and I’m sure you will be too.

Things are getting busier for me and my blogging is becoming more and more sporadic but I haven’t forgotten about what drove me to blog in the first place – it was the desire to help other people going through financial difficulty and/or bankruptcy to feel that they’re not alone.

It’s a difficult time of year but it is possible to get through it if you don’t get caught up in the hype and do the best you can with what you’ve got.  Throughout everything it’s my friends and family that have kept me going.  They were there when I had no money and they are there now that I have a little bit of money.  Just remember the people that really matter don’t care whether you have money or not – and the people that care don’t matter.

Catch up with you soon.

Deb

x

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.

Where do you sit?

Everybody has a different story to tell about bankruptcy and financial difficulty and everybody has a different way of handling it.

Some people become paralysed by fear and/or embarrassment and do nothing but sit and wait for it to happen to them whilst others take control of the situation and start working out a plan of action so they can deal with the project as if it was just another challenging project that requires a specific outcome.

Others become so embroiled in anger and bitterness that this thing is happening to or has happened to them that they lash out at others going through the same thing but who appear to be coping with it.  And there are yet others who just ignore what’s happening, don’t care about the implications and hope it will just wash over them.

We all cope with challenges in very different ways.  However, the one thing I’ve noticed is that those who take responsibility for what’s happening to them and take some positive action generally have the best results or more desired outcome.

A positive attitude will keep you in a positive frame of mind and is more likely to help you get through the bankruptcy process or current difficulties with minimal scars, ready to brush yourself off and start again.

Being consumed with anger, bitterness or even jealousy that someone is coping with a similar situation better than you are is more than likely going to finish you.  It will destroy you and invariably destroy all the relationships you have as people decide they don’t want to be around such negativity or damaging emotions.

Don’t get me wrong, we all go through a wide range or emotions, not all of them good, whilst going through bankruptcy or financial difficulty.  Contrary to what it may seem it’s not always rosy in the garden for me but I don’t let it drag me down.  I’m very quick to revert back to a positive mindset and work out how I can make things better or what I can learn from this.

I’ve attached a link here to a ‘transition curve’ by John Fisher which illustrates how we, as humans, handle change.  I find it a really useful tool to use to work out where I am on that curve and then plot where I want to be.  It’s also useful when I need to remind myself that not everyone handles change/transition in the same way or as quickly as I do.  Take a look at it.  Where do you currently sit on this curve?  Where would you like to sit?  What action will you take to get to where you want to be?

I know where I like to sit on the curve and I ensure I always take positive actions to keep me as close to that place as possible.

I’d be interested in your feedback.

TEAM ~ or ~ The Show Must Go On

There are so many acronyms for the word TEAM aren’t there, but I think the most appropriate is Together Everyone Achieves More.

So often in life we try to carry on by ourselves when it would have been so much better if we’d used all the resources available to us from within our team.  Team doesn’t just relate to your work team.  It could mean your family, your friends, your sports team or any other team or group you’re a member of.

The power of team was really highlighted to me last night.  My hobby for the past 26 years has been amateur drama.  I started singing in musicals then moved on to plays.  This week I’ve been performing every night in the local theatre in a production of Charles Dickens’ “David Copperfield”.  As usual, I arrived in the dressing room around 6.40pm and together with the rest of the cast got busy getting into costume and applying make-up for curtain-up at 7.30pm.  At around 7pm the director called us all into the largest dressing room. There was a serious problem and we weren’t sure if the show could go on – the man playing David Copperfield had been knocked off his bicycle en-route to theatre and had just arrived in A&E by ambulance where he was awaiting x-ray, stitches and Lord knows what else.

I’m sure you can imagine the feeling in the dressing room at that point.  We were all worried about our leading man but we had an audience of around 100 people waiting for a performance.  Could we really send them home? Could we really put on a performance?  The decision was taken.  The Show Must Go On!

A rapid re-casting of some of the other roles, an announcement made to the audience and curtain went up at 7.35pm, not bad all thing’s considered. The audience were on our side, you could feel them willing us to succeed, and were sure as hell weren’t going to let them down.  There were a few hiccoughs, hardly surprising really.  We put 2 intervals into the play and by the time the second interval arrived the original David was back from A&E (we’d sent one of our members, a doctor, to collect him from A&E) stitched, bandaged, bruised and battered but determined he was going on that stage.

A further announcement to the audience that the original David was now back and the cast would go back to it’s usual roles and the next Act opened to rapturous applause.  We were stunned but in reality we weren’t surprised.

It was an amazing feat to be pulled off by a group of amateurs, something like that could have finished so many other groups, amateur or professional, but it shows just what can be achieved with the right passion, attitude, ability and resources.

It reminded me of my team – friends, family and business contacts – without whom I’d never have got through bankruptcy.  In fact, without some of them I wouldn’t be here today to be able to write about it.  They’re all listed here. They’ve all been thanked individually and this is my way of thanking them publicly

Take a look around you and identify your team, in whatever shape it takes, because with the right team behind you your Show really Can Go On and when it does, make sure you thank them and show your gratitude.

Don’t let your past dictate your future…..

As I sit here, frustrated from enforced bed-rest (I’m not seriously ill but bad enough to do some lasting damage if I don’t heed Doctor’s orders), it’s giving me plenty of time to ponder on how life has changed in the past few years.  In fact, to be honest, it’s changed quite dramatically in just a few short months.

Two years ago I was declared bankrupt.  The only thing that stopped me throwing myself off the cliff I now live on top of was my then 4-year old son.  All that kept me moving forward was the thought “What will my son think of me for leaving him?  How will it affect him in the future?”

I have no idea from where I summoned the strength to carry on, and even today, when I have a down day as we all do occasionally, I wonder if I can still carry on.  Thankfully those days are becoming less and less and the past two years have taught me how to cope.  I’ve developed a super-structure of family and friends that supports me and most importantly doesn’t judge me.  And they have no idea how much they bolster me when the vultures (and there are still plenty of them out there, I’m sure you’ve got some of your own, who want to see you fail and are happy to humiliate you no matter what the cost) seem determined to undermine me or try to topple me over the edge of the cliff.  There was a time when the vultures almost won but thanks to my super-structure I’m still here.

I’ve wandered down routes that at times have been dead-ends, others have just been ridiculously stupid and some, well, I should have known better but at the time of deciding which route to go down I took that decision based with all the knowledge and experience I had available to me at that point.  Maybe one day I’ll write a book because sometimes I really can’t quite believe how I got from there to here.  Maybe I’ll explore that through this blog, or if you join me on one of my e-courses, we’ll explore it further then.

When I was in the depths of despair of bankruptcy the one thing that I kept saying was “No-one should ever have to go through this alone and they won’t – if it’s the last thing I do”.  That seemed like a grand statement at the time, just one of those grandiose things you say to make everyone around you think that you’re coping.  Yeah, right!  Like I was really pulling the wool over their eyes with my bluff and bluster!

But, with some encouragement and cajoling I’m almost ready to launch my e-courses to help those affected by bankruptcy, bad debt or in dire financial straits.  I’m not going to tell anyone how to budget better or rebuild their credit history, Lord knows I’m still working through that myself, but what I’m aiming to do is offer the emotional support that was missing when I needed it.  Look up “surviving bankruptcy” or any similar search string on google and you’ll find page upon page of hints and tips to save money, do more with less, etc, etc, but you’ll find next to nothing on what it’s like to go through bankruptcy and come out the other end.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no guru or expert but as no-one else seems prepared to talk about it, I felt I should.  Quite why I don’t know, but discussing quite how low, dirty and unworthy bankruptcy makes you feel with someone who hasn’t been through it doesn’t really help.  It makes you feel as if the other person, whilst empathetic, is judging you.  I now know they’re not but try telling that to someone who is drinking water, not because they’re on a health kick but because they can’t afford a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.  Or to the person who has suddenly fallen in love with ‘Vintage clothing’ (read charity shop bargains or freecycle freebies) after years of buying top quality, top priced clothing because it’s sustainable and good for the environment!

So, where am I now, 2 years down the line? Well, my address history is improving; instead of 9 changes of address in 2 years I now have just 2 different addresses for the past 2 years (every little helps).  I am self-employed and happy, I have learned to accept myself and have rebuilt my confidence and self-esteem, I see my son every weekend and I’m in a loving relationship with a wonderful man.

Everything started to fall into place as I made some changes to my life and my mindset and things are now coming together nicely.  There’s still a way to go, I’ve got another 4 years of being a “discharged bankrupt” to get through yet, but I have to be honest and say if they carry on like this, it’s not going to have been such a bad thing to happen after all.  If only I’d realised it at the time.

My e-courses will be launching soon and I hope you’ll join me on “The Bankrupt’s Route to Recovery“.

Deb