I eventually got round to watching this film at the weekend. I have to say I really enjoyed it, although I am not a fan of 'chick flicks'. However, what looks to be a light-hearted and fictional movie was actually earth shatteringly true for me, and I would be a fool to think I was the only one who thought this.
The story tells the tale of Rebecca Bloomwood who is addicted to shopping, has numerous credit cards all maxed out and is on the run from debt collectors ... . From the start of the movie where Rebecca Bloomwood describes how as a child she never had pretty things - I can relate. This isn't some 'Woe is me' tale I am about to tell, my Mother just isn't interested in pretty things or pampering. She is all about practicality and value for money. By the time I was 17 I had well and truly grown into a magpie and was a bit of a fashionista at heart so had aspirations of turning myself into a beautiful swan with all the trends of the day at my fingertips! (Did you catch the bit where I blame my mother?? ;) ).
It all started with a cream trouser suit from Kookai that I purchased with my first pay packet. It was the most expensive thing I had ever owned. I was on a tiny salary back then but I noticed the more I shopped, the more I wanted and therefore the more I was offered - in the way of store cards at least. Before I knew it I had about 7 or 8 store cards!! Then I moved onto credit and debit cards ... in total I think I had 9 and that was on top of the 8 store cards!! Then came Uni where I accrued debt with student loans and overdrafts.
Just like Rebecca Bloomwood, I lived for each new seasons collections but also in fear of anonymous callers on my mobile and unopen, unpaid debt notices. Watching the movie, I laughed at how she had to stop on the way to an interview to buy her infamous green scarf. The exact same scenario had happened to me ... probably tenfold. The amount of times I turned up at interviews with bags of shopping was ridiculous! But then there was the not so funny moments when you would purchase an item only for your card to be declined and like any addiction you would do all you could to get that product, even if it meant cashing in a cheque that was more than likely to bounce!
If I were to watch this film 8 years ago, I wouldn't have laughed, it's just far too real. I was frivolous, I lived in constant fear of debt collectors and the implications that could have on me and my family. In the end, my friends and family convinced me that I had to do something about the debt I was in. I won't fool you .. I was in a LOT of debt. I won't mention the exact figure but I am pretty sure you would be shocked. I put off dealing with the debt for years but eventually had to learn to live within my means, this doesn't mean no holidays, no life, no clothes, it just means managing your money and getting your priorities in place. I sought advice from professionals and put a plan in action.
I am happy to say 3 and half years after seeking advice - I am now debt free!! (I sound like a recovering alci!) 3 years passed in no time and never once in that time did I feel like I was at a loss. I did make sacrifices but they were all worth it and it taught me to make sensible decisions when it comes to spending.
I guess the reason I am writing this is to raise awareness of how quickly and easily you can fall into a pit of debt but there is also a way out. It can be difficult when we are reading each others blogs not to be sucked in by every product or every item of clothing that others are buying. Followers of some blogs want everything their favourite blogger has! I have often read certain blogs and wondered how some girls can afford so many high end items on such a regular basis. Of course, this is no-ones business but I do realise that some people will be getting into debt for the sake of writing something exciting about a haul or new product on their blogs.
So, please take the advice of a reformed Rebecca Bloomwood:
- Don't ignore debt. Admit it exists and manage it by creating a realistic budget plan
- Don't be bullied by debt collectores (Some people have been driven to suicide over their money worries)
- Get professional advice - Citizens Advice Bureau offers free advice
- Cut up your credit and debit cards, stick to a cashcard only
- Don't borrow more money
- Contact your creditors and arrange a payback plan
- Make sacrifices
- Get a job (ok, bit obvious)
- Don't believe in the hype. A product or material posession you want soooo badly will not make your life better ... you will have moved onto something new in a few weeks time!
- Resurrect old clothes, use up existing make up or just become a more savvy shopper in general
- Don't moan about it. You got yourself there, seek help and work hard to get yourself back in the black. One thing I learned was never to plead poverty - no one will have sympathy for you and nor should they.
- Don't worry yourself sick over it, as long as you deal you will be fine
Sorry for the long and serious post but in this economic climate I hope this may help someone or help us all understand that shopping isn't always the be all and end all.
(now i just have to make sure my next post isn't a haul post!! JOKE)