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Curing a spendaholic

Dear Debt Adviser,
I have hit rock bottom with my spending habit. I am a wife and mother of two and a spendaholic. I have just about run us into financial destruction. My husband has a successful career, makes good money, yet none of our bills are paid, our truck was just repossessed and he is about to walk out on me. I need help and I don't want to lose my family. My husband has traveled for many years and I have kept all of this from him until now. He would always say, just make sure I have what I need and take care of the rest. I feel as though the void in my marital life and my self-loathing tendencies have put us where we are now. What kind of help is there for me and will I ever get our credit restored? The bill collectors are vicious and it's not like I can say, "I can't help it, I have a problem with spending," and then make it all better. Please help me find the help I need. I am desperate. Thanks -- Kate

Dear Kate,
All long journeys begin with small steps. You have made a great start by admitting that you have a problem with spending and being honest with your husband about it. Congratulations on coming this far. I know that both were extremely hard to do. However, these are the last kind words you will hear from me! You have serious work to do and here are my suggestions:

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First, get control of yourself. Find a Debtors Anonymous meeting and attend. Debtors Anonymous is a 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. DA has helped many people in your situation come to terms with their spending and lead debt-free lives. DA has more than 500 meetings nationwide and in 13 countries. It doesn't matter if the meeting is too far, or at a bad time: Go! You can find some more information at DebtorsAnonymous.org.

Second, help carry the load by finding employment or making extra income to help pay off the debt. No matter how small your contribution, you made the debt; you need to help get rid of it. This will go a long way with your husband to show that you are serious about your situation.

Third, get control of your finances. Both you and your husband should go to see a legitimate, traditional credit counselor to help create your debt payoff plan, open the lines of financial communication and set some goals you can both work toward. The unbiased professional advice could be just what you need to begin getting your financial lives in order and keeping them that way.

Fourth, about restoring your credit: Forget about it. Restoring your credit is so far down on your list of priorities right now that spending any time on it will just distract you from those things that are important in your current situation. Your credit history will take care of itself if and when you take care of your life and family. Stop thinking about using credit, start thinking about living each day as best you can, without borrowing on the future.

Kate, I know that you can turn things around with some hard work, rebuilt trust and some good advice. Don't forget to attend the Debtors Anonymous meetings and I wish you the best of luck!

 

-- Posted: Sept. 20, 2004
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2004 Debt Guide
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