15 February 2018

The Sixth promise of Debtors Anonymous

The Sixth Promise of Debtors Anonymous states that Isolation will give way to fellowship; faith will replace fear.

When money owed was more than the money made isolation was a best friend. The phone was the enemy. The mail was the enemy. Knocks on the door couldn’t even be trusted. Everything was feared. For awhile I’d find comfort at work, that is until creditors started calling me at work. I never opened mail and never signed for a certified letter. I did everything in my power to stay ignorant of everything going on around me. I knew I owed money… a lot of money. Exactly how much? I had no idea and really didn’t want to know. All I knew was that I owed money and I had no money to give.

Part of the problem was my own selfish thoughts. I felt entitled to my daily pack of cigarettes. I felt I had earned my morning donut and coffee. I was a hard working man who was entitled to expensive lunches and even tasty treats at break time.

Until I met my isolationist behaviour and my selfish thoughts about my worth, I would never get out of debt. First, I had to admit my debt. I had to admit I was broke. That I couldn’t afford a morning coffee and donut. Heck, in reality, I couldn’t even afford the morning newspaper. Second, for my own personal physical health it was time to quit smoking. It was a deadly and expensive habit… that also kept me very alone. At family functions, I’d have to go outside and have a cigarette as everyone else sat around and had enjoyable relaxing chats with each other. What did they talk about? I have no idea, I was to busy smoking my cig.

What change my life was getting a divorce and at the age of 53, I didn’t have enough money to rent a small apartment. Even if I could get a place to stay I had no money for furniture or even food. When most people my age were planning their retirements, I had no plans for a future, nor any plans on how to get out of debt.

I have experienced fear before but this was new. I have been homeless, but that was when I was much younger and physically in better shape. I knew this was my last chance. Gratefully, I found a landlord that held my first months rent check for a couple of weeks. By doing that I had enough cash for the electrical deposit and just enough left over to get some bread and peanut butter and jelly. That was my meals for those first couple of weeks.

I didn’t have cable TV or the internet. I didn’t have a bed and slept on the floor. It was the first time that I realized, I wasn’t entitled to anything, nor did I earn anything. What I realized very quickly was that if I wanted something then I needed to work for it. And I went to work. I started paying myself first.

Then I paid my housekeeping bills and got food. Then and only then did I start paying off my debts. My early goals were very simple. I would never bounce a check every again. Eight years later, this goal has never been broken. And second, I would live on cash only. I would quit using credit cards. This goal stay in effect until I got out of debt.

Eventually, I did get some new credit cards and started using them. The new goal with them was to never carry a balance with them. To never pay a penny in interest and so far, six years later I have never paid any interest on any card.

By living with cash only and never running into credit card savings, it became easy to pay myself first and save some money. No longer are emergencies things to be feared. Instead they can be met with a plan of payment and then a plan to replace those emergency funds.

Eight years ago, there was a debt of $65,000 on my head. Now the pendulum has swung the other way and debt is not one of my fears, nor is isolation part of my life.

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