Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Taming Those Green and Plastic Monsters This Holiday Season

I have always loved Halloween. It is a day when adults, teens, and children can be whoever they want to be. We can get away with sugar rushes, carving pumpkins, having parties, and being silly. It is what happens after Halloween that gets me really scared.

It has already begun: every year, it seems like the Christmas cards and decorations are put on display earlier and earlier. Retailers are preparing us for their busiest money-making time of the year. The “Green and Plastic (cash and credit card) Monsters” start getting restless in our wallets and purses. We must learn to control the urge to abuse them to satisfy our materialistic tendencies. The current economic crisis has been an unfortunately effective deterrent to many of us these past few years, but it should not be the only reason why we control our spending.

Every Wednesday night in Brooklyn, I meet with others who want to take back financial control from the “Green and Plastic Monsters” in our lives. While munching on delicious snacks, we discuss "The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness," by Dave Ramsey. I haven't read much on the subject before this, but I already feel affected by his message of financial moderation. I don’t have to be a math whiz to understand what Ramsey, as well as many financial experts, out there tell us: ALWAYS try to purchase with cash only, have at least $1,000 set aside as an emergency fund, and start tackling bills by paying more than the stated minimum balance. The key is to prevent further debt by "suppressing the plastic," once and for all.

While I am thankful that I currently have no debt to speak of, I appreciate a common sense approach that helps to steer the financially clueless towards long term, debt-free futures. There are temptations everywhere, urging us to spend, spend, and spend some more. With the economy being what it is, I personally don't want to take any chances…I need all the help I can get!

Do you think you have a good relationship with your money? Why or why not?

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