Control Your Cash entered into a new professional venture a few weeks ago, with an agreeable fellow who made one modest condition: that we no longer employ the word “retard” on the site. (He’ll hopefully excuse that instance of it, given that it wasn’t gratuitous but rather vital to the plot. Like Thora Birch’s nudity in American Beauty.) We could have stood our ground, but it was a battle hardly worth fighting. And it reminded us of a quote that we can’t remember the source of, but want to use on the jacket of our next book:
The world is full of fast food cooks who never took flak from anybody.
So yeah, our monthly feature is now the (F)RotM. The F is for financial, the o is for of, and you can search through our archives to figure out the rest. For some reason we let the feature go last month, not properly honoring anyone as our (F)RotM, so we looked doubly hard to find someone fitting this time. And succeeded.
Debt bloggers are the freaking Hydra. You have to not only cut off the head, but cauterize the stump to stop two more from growing in its place. Like our latest (F)RotM laureate, No Debt Brunette. Misogyny may be more of a pastime for us here than it is an overarching worldview, but it’s hard to take some of the ladies seriously when they willingly reduce themselves to something as trivial and inconsequential as a hair color. (There’s also a Budget Blonde, and probably a Recession-Proof Redhead*, too.) Anyhow, here’s what makes No Debt Brunette such an original:
I have almost $25,000 worth of debt and have decided to regain control of my life.
See if you can distinguish her from this previous winner:
My name is Tricia and my husband and I got into a little bit of debt in our 20s. Okay…it’s more than a little bit of debt. When we finally decided to shape up our financial life in February of 2006, our credit card debt was over $37,000.
Or this one:
I had debt that I couldn’t pay on, student loans that I hadn’t paid on in years, no job, I lived at home with my mother & my two young boys and my car had just gone its last mile. I sat in my room and cried for a good two hours.
(The blogger cried. Do you even need to guess the sex?) Then there’s this one:
I was over $45,000+ in student loan debt as I was entering the “real world”. […] Along with my student loans, I also have about $13,000+ in credit card debt.
Or this one:
I found myself with $50,000 worth of credit card debt, all of which I created myself.
There are hundreds more. Literally hundreds. The only thing remarkable about them, as a collective, is their stunning uniformity. As individuals, they’re each as unique as the capsules in this bottle of Kirkland® brand fish oil. And about as palatable.
Back to No Debt Brunette, who not only has a negative balance, but a goal!
I am on a year long Spending Freeze where I only pay necessities. Instead of spending money on fun things like new clothes and sodas, I am putting it towards my bills.
“Spending Freeze” is capitalized, meaning that she’s attaching some importance to it. Also, we’ve uncovered a new level of pathos where a soda counts as a “fun thing” to spend money on. (Last we checked, Walmart cola runs about 20¢ a can, excluding deposit.) She wrote that promise earlier this year, March or so. You already know what her progress has been like over the last 7 months, but let’s examine the failures and corresponding excuses here. Starting with last Wednesday:
I’m already 23 days into my Spending Freeze: Take Two!
Take Two? Back up a minute. What happened?
When I started this adventure in February of last year, my beginning debt balance was $24,996.98.
So, subtract all the money I payed toward that total, add all the charges I made during my move, add a car loan and I now have a debt total of $37,472.79.
When you’re 25 large in the hole, well, why wouldn’t you take out a car loan? Ally Financial has quarterly quotas to meet. No Debt Brunette is now tantalizingly close to half again as much debt as she had when she started this charade. It’s actually 49.9%, to one decimal place. How do you describe someone who’s detailed enough to ratiocinate her debt to the nearest penny, twice, yet who commits to lowering her debt and then raises it by half? Wait, let’s hear her rationalization. This is great:
I know I know, the balance increased dramatically instead of decreasing. I could have only incorporated the amount of student loan debt that I have left but I want to be real and focus on becoming COMPLETELY debt free, including paying for my car.
Is that latter sentence even English? We’ve said before that the only way to become debt-free, assuming you were stupid enough to have incurred debt in the first place, is to live like a panhandler until your net worth is finally back up to zero. No new clothes, no new entertainment, no new nothing (except groceries) until you’re done. Why? Because intense pain concentrated into as short a time as possible beats protracted dull pain every time. The Band-Aid principle, if you will. Eventually you figure you can live with the dull pain, as it chips away at your self-worth, both metaphorical and financial, one day at a time. But no worries, because this time it’s going to be different. No Debt Brunette (what a grossly misleading moniker) knows all the platitudes, too. Listen to her delude herself:
I feel like a seasoned veteran now and know what needs to be done. I am going to spend this next week meal planning, taking photos of stuff I can sell online, and preparing myself mentally for this new journey. Starting a Spending Freeze right around the holidays is going to be tough but I’m excited to do it.
As a rule, taking time to “prepar[e] [one]self mentally” is not a step undertaken by achievers. Also, what holidays occur around October 1? Diwali?
It gets better. It always gets better. Before Spending Freeze 2.0 began in earnest, she had to get some expenditures out of the way. Expenditures that might have made sense if she were living in 1960:
I decided to send thank you cards to people in my life who have recently done something kind for me. If the person is in my everyday life then I will hand deliver the card (saving postage) but if not, I’m okay with spending 47 cents on them. I have about 8 stamps left but my Spending Fast is serious business. So, I am going to buy a $10 pack of stamps to hold me over till I can ask for more for Christmas.
- You’re going to buy a $10 pack of stamps to “hold you over’? This is all over the WGAS channel.
- We have this thing called email now. It’s free.
But that’s so impersonal.
And you’re $37,473 in debt! God, do we have to spell out everything? By the way, we’ll be expecting a card shortly for being the only people with sufficient reserves of tough love to tell you frankly what an absolute moron you’re being.
There’s another minor expense that she declares she has to take care of before she decides to again think about lowering her (now greatly heightened) debt, too:
I committed to a few things in October. My BFF Lauren is getting married next weekend and I have booked a hotel already. I committed to visiting my best man friend in VA in a few weeks and I’m traveling to DC for a high-school-lady-friend-reunion.
[W]hile it would save a little money if I didn’t go, I’ve learned that people are more important than money.
Then WTF is the point of your website? Why not just say “I’m drowning in debt, it’s getting worse, but I like spending money and seeing my friends so there’s no point worrying about it”, The End? We know you’re not serious about getting out of debt, that much is obvious, but could you at least pretend to care for the sake of this website that you’ve put so much wasted effort into?
The wedding was last week, or at least her recap of it was.
I had to constantly stay aware of my purchases. I had allotted $300 for this trip.
If people really are more important than money, why didn’t the bride say, “Look, you’re broke. I know you’re broke, because you’ve dedicated a blog to how poor you are. Maybe you should sit this one out.” Oh, that’s right, women are insane. The Brunette also had to board her dog for a few days at $40 a night. Dogs are more important than money, too.
(No, we’re not being facetious. Control Your Cash’s charity of choice remains Best Friends Animal Society, mostly because its beneficiaries aren’t responsible for making any stupid decisions.)
It’s not the immaturity nor the crying jags that get us in the (F)RotM series, it’s these people’s endless refusal to look in the mirror and comment honestly on what they see. If you want to spend money injudiciously, just freaking do it and stop pretending to care about ever getting out of debt. More to the point, stop thinking that your repeated and unrepentant failure is of interest to anyone.
Buy assets, sell liabilities, build wealth. That sequence never, ever fails.
Get in debt, get further in debt, rationalize your awful choices, spend money in contradiction of your alleged goals, fall even further behind, die broke. That one never fails either. Your choice.
*No, but there is a Red-Debted Stepchild. Thanks to a frequent Carnival of Wealth contributor for the last-minute research.