Friday, 8 May 2009


I am very frustrated with myself these past few days/weeks. I have all the tools (and more!) that I could possibly need to get my spending under control and my debt paid off (before the year is out), but I seem to be lacking the one thing that I need most of all: self-control!

My spending just goes on and on and on and much at this point that I have no cash left in my jars (two weeks' worth gone 2 days after pay day - a record!) and just enough in my chequing account to cover my auto-withdrawals, but that's it. The thought of 'no cash' makes me nervous. I get antsy and then just feel the urge to spend MORE to compensate for my "lack" of being able to buy.

I make new plans and change them. I then change those plans and determine that I won't change them again...but only after I adjust this number or that amount. Part of it is wanting to do too much all at once: I want to get out of debt, save for a house, buy a new(er) car, continue my studies. I get too excited and end up failing at all of my goals instead of just plodding along with baby steps. I've never been particularly patient in that respect. I'm not alone, I'm sure.

So I'm really struggling to stay focused at all right now and I think that's part of the problem. I spend too much time "thinking," instead of just "doing" and letting the proverbial cards fall where they will. I have to be a lot easier on myself, too, and remember that it's not as easy getting out of debt as it is getting INTO it! My current savings (vet, travel, house, etc.) would clear my Canada Revenue bill or most of my LOC, so it's tempting to take that and apply it to my debt. But then I think, I've worked hard to save that much to my accounts, so why should I? (Sense of entitlement, anyone?). Never mind that I see the conflict in that while I'm saving, but still owe someone else, I'm not really ahead anyway, despite what I tell myself.

If I add in my current EF savings towards repayment of my debt, I could get rid of two debts, minus about $100, leaving me with just one to tackle. I'm not entirely comfortable with this as I don't really like the thought of not having an EF on standby, but I know that without debt, my savings will grow faster and better than they currently are (on trickle).

Essentially this is what my debt/savings look like (not counting my RRSP as there's no way I'm touching that):

Debt Total: $6275
Savings Total: $3554 (incl EF)

Debt Total if full amount applied: $2721.

My mother has also said she'd give me some money towards a car: approx. $2500. Assuming I applied that to the debt, instead of a car right now (sorry, mum!), then I would owe only $221! I could clear that in one paycheque. I could, in a sense, be debt free by the end of May or June.

I know you all understand my ramblings, so I'm asking for suggestions, guidance, thoughts. What would you do? What have you done in the past? I know I posted a similar ramble a few months ago, but I this time I really need to make a black & white decision with respect to this because it's making me crazy.


dinah34 said...

you wrote "The thought of 'no cash' makes me nervous. I get antsy and then just feel the urge to spend MORE to compensate for my "lack" of being able to buy."

this is me exactly! i start to panic if i think i won't have enough money for stuff and things...and because i'm panicked i spend more.

i've been working on overcoming it, it's hard and requires a lot of self-talking to.

Northern Living Allowance said...

Dinah - yes! Panic. I was thinking about this again a little bit ago and that's exactly the word that describes it. The old "what if" scenario. I'm glad I'm not the only one, but I just really need to step away from myself sometimes and let this stuff lie quietly so I can get on with other things. You're right that it takes a lot of self-talking to figure stuff out! I find I argue a lot with myself, too, which doesn't help! :P

Anonymous said...

What would I do?

Do you foresee ANY possible emergencies or unexpected expenses in the next 1 to 2 months? Probably not. With that being said...if you DID use your savings and apply it to your debt, how quickly could you save up a comfortable EF again?

If I were in your shoes, I would probably use it to pay off my debt. You sound a lot like me - if I have too many goals going, I get REALLY discouraged and end up not doing ANYTHING! So why not focus on your debt. And then focus on your savings?

That's what I'm doing! and it seems to be working, really well!

But at the end of the day, you need to do what's best for you! :) Keep us updated!!

Arual said...

I agree with frugal dreamer, I would apply the emergency fund to your debt, then focus on rebuilding the EF once the debt is paid off. If the debt is keeping you in panic mode then you should clear it up for a better quality of life.

The Lost Goat said...

I don't know what is going on in Canada, but here in the States, credit card companies are freezing people's accounts right and left. If this is true there as well, then it is not irrational at all to want to have a bit of cash on hand.

It sounds like you have some backup from your mom, but who wants to always be borrowing money from their parents?

I'd take a long, hard look at what resources you will be able to tap in the event of an emergency, and then see whether you can afford to use the cash to pay down debt.

Also, if not having the ef will make you feel panicked and thus spend more, it doesn't matter how "rational" the decision to use it to pay down debt might be, it's still a bad idea.

Frugalchick said...

You are certainly not alone! I also struggle with getting impatient and wanting to tackle too many things at one time, as well as overthinking instead of just doing.

Northern Living Allowance said...

@FD - Thank you for your always level-headed advice! I'm feeling better today (and after talking to a friend yesterday who suggested yet another alternative). I am going to let it stew for a little bit, but yes, like you if I take on too much I get discouraged easily and give up on it all! I don't want to do that here...

@Arual - A good point re: the debt and panic mode. I don't always feel like this (fortunately), but I guess it's sometimes a little motivational and the push you need to make decisions? :P

@LostGoat - Thanks for stopping by and for your thoughts! I am going to take this all into consideration before making a more rational decision!

@Frugalchick - Thanks for your thoughts! It's nice to know I'm not alone with this and to have a space to voice it where like-minded people will understand. I guess whatever decision I finally will be the right one, eh?

Canadian Saver said...

I can't wait to hear about this other alternative your friend suggested :-)

One thing I wouldn't do is use the $2,500 your mom offered for a car to put towards debt, unless you asked her first. That doesn't seem right...

I have used savings to pay a big chunk to debt just to get rid of it, but I never used up my whole EF. That would make me more nervous than the debt itself!

Good luck with your decision!

The Asian Pear said...

I'm in a similar position. I decided not to touch my Emergency Savings Fund though. Because it's exactly that. An emergency fund. What I suggest you can do instead is perhaps dip into it a bit to wipe out one debt. But do not clear out your fund altogether.

Money Funk said...

I understand you frustration. I think we all tend to go through it many times. That is why I have decided to take the simple route... learning to enjoy what I have now, and not what I can buy today. It is proving difficult task, but I hope like, that it will become habit soon enough. :)

Hang in there, read a good financial and/or self-help book... that always puts me back in the gung-ho mood. You'll make it!

Sharon Rose said...

Hi there-I really hope you come to a decision that does feel right for you. Have you tried livng on a weekly expense amount? I am starting this, as waiting a whole month for a bigger amount just wasn't working for me, so I'd rather have smaller weekly allowances and then I don't have to wait so long if it runs out! Good luck with your decision, its certainly not an easy one, I made myself skint and with no emergency fund to pay off debts and although initially exhilarating, that feeling wears off, when you realise there is no 'back up'. Luckily, I got through it, though it was hard. Thanks for stopping by and good luck, whatever you decide!

Anonymous said...

So I think there are two answers here - the first is to throw everything at debt and get rid of it. The second is to go on autopilot, and chip away at everything at once (ie, auto payments to debts, savings, etc). Which one you choose really depends on what you want *right now*, I think, which seems counterintuitive...
But frankly, right now is all we have. Good luck!

Money Funk said...

are you still frustrated? Things going better for you? Just checking in on you... hope school is going well. :)