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Conquering Your Debt-- Attitude Adjustment & Online Resources
So far in this series, we've focused all of our efforts on budgeting and bringing in more income. Today I want to discuss another helpful method. Instead of just focusing on the money itself, digging ourselves out of debt involves changing our attitudes. It’s not just about spending less money. It’s also about looking at the stuff that we already own in a new light.
For example, over the past few weeks I’ve been contemplating buying a new bookcase. However, my office is located in the attic of my house. The room has a “peaked” ceiling and low walls. I didn’t want to spend money on a new bookcase for several reasons: 1. I’m poor, 2. I'm in debt and don't want to make it worse, and 3. finding a bookcase short enough to fit in the space would be a challenge. I knew from past experience that most standard bookcases are taller than they are wide. I needed one that was the opposite.
So, I chose to get creative. I had a few old wooden doors that used to go to the laundry closet. However, when I moved into my house I already owned one of those apartment style, space saving machines. It’s a “double-decker” washing machine and drier combo with one machine on top of the other. Well, it turns out that my machine is much narrower than standard machines, but its also deeper. The machine wouldn’t fit with the sliding wood doors. So, I took the doors down and have been using a large curtain on that closet ever since. Meanwhile the two folding doors have been gathering dust.
Light bulb! It occurred to me that the folding doors could be transformed into a large bookcase that was much wider than it was tall. So, I got out my jigsaw and all of the miscellaneous nails, hinges, and what-have-yous that have been gathering in the bottom of my toolbox for years. In the end, I succeeded in building my very own bookcase that fulfills my requirements. It’s short enough to fit in my attic office and the two tall, deep shelves are great for storing my combination of books and craft materials. The only catch is that my refurbished bookcase won’t be winning any beauty pageants any time soon... but I’m okay with that!
Keeping an Open Mind
The point of my story is that we can save ourselves money (and gain the satisfaction of making something with our own hands) by simply keeping an open mind. Just because an old object no longer works that doesn’t mean that we have to throw it away. Instead, try to view that object as something else. My new bookcase didn’t cost me a penny because I constructed it out of stuff that I already owned. Before spending your money, try looking around your home. With a little creativity and some work, you may be able to transform an old object into something new.
Getting Back to Our Roots
This illustrates another good point. We, as a society, need to change our mindset. We've all been trained to automatically go out and buy new items. We need to break the buying habit. Instead, we need to re-learn the things that our grandparents (who lived through the Great Depression) knew. A few generations ago, people were much more self-reliant. They knew how to repair items when they broke rather than simply replacing them. They also grew their own crops, preserved excess vegetables for use during the winter, and chose to maintain and repair items rather than simply replacing them.
In order to not only get out of debt, but learn how to improve our financial health, I think we need to get back to our roots. We need to embrace the things that helped our grandparents survive the Great Depression.
For the record, I'm not saying that because I'm expecting a zombie apocalypse or some other disaster. (wink) And, I'm not a "prepper."
But, I believe that if we adopted some of the principles and practices that helped our grandparents survive a major financial disaster then could learn how to avoid getting into such a bad situation in the future. Learning how to live frugally can help us to dig ourselves out of debt and help us to avoid falling back into that trap in the future.
For inspiration, I’ve listed a few web addresses below. All of them promote the recycle, reduce, reuse movement. Please, check them out!
The Center for the New American Dream http://www.newdream.org/about
Shoestring Magazine http://www.shoestringmag.com/diy
Ready Made http://www.readymade.com/
As always, feel free to post your comments and feedback on this Hub!