Donell Edwards, Blogger
About Donell Edwards: Donell Edwards is President of CWR Media and is also founder and publisher of The College World Reporter (CWR) magazine and CWR World News & Information Service. He is also a professional speaker, freelance writer, and entrepreneur.
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Know Your Money
Tuesday – April 14, 2015
Financial Literacy Month 2015
Confessions Of A Shopaholic
By Donell Edwards
Today’s post is an update of an article that I wrote March 14, 2014 about my experience as a shopaholic. The purpose of this article is to share with readers how I became a shopaholic in hopes that my confession may help others to successfully overcome this problem, and to encourage others to share their own experiences as shopaholics, how it affected them, and how they deal with this problem or how they overcame it.
The MacMillan Dictionary defines spendaholic as “Somebody who is addicted to spending money.” Although I came from very humble beginnings and my family did not have much, my maternal grandparents with whom I lived and my mother always tried to make sure that I had everything I needed and most of the things that I wanted. I became accustomed to getting what I wanted.
Like most parents, my parents wanted me to have a better life than they did. Even though I lacked for nothing that was essential, as a child, I compared what my family had with others who had more and I felt inferior. I never discussed these feelings with anyone, and this thinking affected many of the decisions that I made in my life when I reached adulthood.
As a child I watched my mother, my grandfather, and my grandmother and how hard they worked, and how little they earned for their hard work. I promised myself that I would do better. I would have a better car, a nice home, I would be a property owner, and I would have everything else that I considered essential to being successful. I based those desires on others that I observed in my community whom I envied, who unlike my family owned their homes and had all of the things that I felt were missing from my life. I failed to appreciate all that my family had given me, how much they had sacrificed so that I could have the opportunity to do better in life. They sheltered me from the harshness of life in the rural South in the 60s and provided me with outstanding examples of character, honesty, and a strong work ethic. I only learned to appreciate their struggle and sacrifice when I became an adult and learned how challenging this world can be.
So, as soon as I got my first real job while in high school, I developed bad spending habits. Although my stepfather tried to teach me to budget my money and to save, I would not listen; I only wanted to spend. As soon as I could get credit at retail stores I did, in fact I got several. To me, being able to buy things and having lots of credit accounts were symbols of success. So many times I purchased things I really didn’t need and could not afford. Most of the time I managed to make the required payments, but eventually things spiraled out of control because of my bad spending practices, and before I was 20 I had ruined my credit.
While spending freely, I never considered the damage that was being done to my credit, and the resulting affect not having good credit had on employment opportunities, qualifying for a home loan or auto loan, and many other important aspects of life.
I was an angry young man because I believed I was a victim of systemic racial discrimination that limited my employment opportunities and my income and my ability to enjoy the kind of lifestyle that I deserved. Although this may have been true, I allowed my rage to influence my decisions instead of using my the knowledge that I possessed to make better decisions. I had developed a sense that I was entitled to more, that I deserved the things I wanted, and that when I got married and had a family that we deserved more.
In my early 20s I had to work for years to rebuild my credit. Eventually my employment improved and so did my income, but I still viewed myself as underemployed and underpaid. In time, my credit also improved enough for me to get credit cards. Although I was more cautious now, I still had not learned from my prior experience with credit and spending. I used credit cards to substitute for what I felt was a limit in my income due to underemployment, and used them to get what I wanted and reasoned that I would find a way to pay the credit card bills somehow. It was never my intention not to pay my bills, I was just reacting to my circumstances, which I felt were unfair, but it was the wrong reaction.
I had become a spendaholic, because I was addicted to spending money, in my case, I was addicted to using credit cards; I knowingly spent money that I did not have by using credit cards excessively. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a budget or that I did not understand how to budget, however, at that time my budget was based on hope rather than on reality. Hope that I would get a better job, hope that I would be able to make more money, hope that I would be successful in business ventures that I started, and everything would be alright. At the same time I was mad because I was in this situation and I felt life was unfair and I was reacting to my circumstances. Whatever my reasons, they were wrong.
As I embarked down this path to financial self-destruction I was in denial and rejected the good advice I received from family and friends who tried to help me. I would tell them, “You just don’t understand.” Eventually I lost everything and had to work to reestablish my credit and rebuild my life. All because of being a spendaholic.
Those experience in life taught me valuable lessons that I will never forget, and that I hope will allow me to help others by sharing the knowledge that I gained from having those experiences. I know that spending can be addictive, but anyone who really wants to can overcome the addiction. Just don’t let it destroy you before you take action.
Brave Souls Wanted:
If you would like to share with our readers how “bad” spending habits have affected you, anonymously or otherwise, for our upcoming special, “Confessions Of Spendaholics,” please send your experience to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Here is today’s step to financial wellness from Thirty Steps to Financial Wellness developed by Money Management International:
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Disclaimer: I have a Bachelor of Business Administration degree but I am not a financial adviser. However, I have acquired years of knowledge about personal money management through my life experience working through my own personal finances that allows me to share that knowledge with readers of Know Your Money. The Know Your Money Blog posts written by me are my own common sense observations and opinions and are for informational use only. Although my blog includes contributions from experienced financial professionals, please make your own financial decisions based on personal research or contact a financial adviser.
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