Use Them or Lose Them

About three months ago a friend of mine returned from a weekend trip to the States. She was in charge of the low-brow keep-it-real part of the festivities (carney rides, candy floss, food on a stick) he was in charge of the high-brow (sifting through archived film that had not been released to the general public in years).

 

She was stunned by the pervasive mood of gloom and doom. They were there just before the traditionally high-flying back-to-school retail blitz. In the past, retailers have counted on making a big chunk of their revenue in the weeks before school and then retrenching before the next big push for Christmas. People on the streets were talking about the sinking U.S. economy and local news stations were telling people it was okay to buy “new” school clothes for their kids in second-hand stores.

 

Today, I received an email notice warning of pending store closures. Eddie Bauer, The Gap, Macy’s, Disney and Home Depot were among the many on the list. Some were closing select locations while some had gone bankrupt and would soon close their doors for good. This notice specifically warned us to use any gift certificates or credit notes ASAP or they might as well be binned.

 

This mood is infectious. The fate of the Big Three Automakers is still up in the air. (I was just forwarded an unbelievable post from CNN.com- more on this later.) The attendees of the G20 summit on the 15th basically promised to come up with policy proposals for the next G20 summit and to not go the way of protectionist measures. Yeah, right. If there is blood in the streets and public outcry to do something, anything, politicians will unfortunately do the politically expedient thing and not the smart thing.

 

Hearing all of this just makes you want to turn off the t.v., close the blinds and go to bed. Shutting out the din of despair may not be a bad idea. With all the chatter, who can make sense of anything?

 

In a previous post, I mentioned figuring out where you want to go. You need to have a destination in mind before you can draw up the plan to get there. If you haven’t, start now. Don’t worry about how outlandish they may seem, just start writing. But make sure these are your dreams and not someone else’s. Do you have a time frame? You may need to break these goals into manageable steps or they will remain pie-in-the-sky, just out of reach.

 

While you dream a little (or a lot) and start trying to pin these dreams down, let’s get back to basics.

 

Look at where your money goes. Write everything down. You may be in for a shock. I would suggest doing it for at least a week but four weeks is better. The first time I did it I was stunned. The pennies add up. I drew up a chart of my expenses (use Exel if you have it- the spreadsheet can be your friend). I separated the expenses into categories- Entertainment, Food, Mortgage, Utilities, Clothes, Transportation etc. Do what makes sense for you but don’t get overly obsessed with the chart itself. It’s the analysis of where your money goes that is important.

 

You have to remember that your money is your responsibility. Most people do not get a “money” education growing up. My “war baby” mentality and the fact that there was really nothing I wanted to buy in town saved me. Delaying gratification was a lesson easily learned and one I only forgot for a three week period during the years I worked in Yorkville.

 

But I digress…Writing down those expenses could tell you a lot about yourself and what you need to do next.

 

Until then.

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~ by angryegg on November 19, 2008.

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