Debbie shared a quick joke with the postman as she took the bundle of letters from his hands. "I long for the day when I can get some money in the mail instead of just more bills!" she said with a chuckle. The postman laughed heartily as he rode away, "The only way money will come in the mail is if you start buying lottery tickets!" he retorted.
As she closed the gate, Debbie ruffled through the items that had just been delivered. There was correspondence from the furniture store from which she had bought a new Smart TV on hire purchase, a letter from a loan recovery agency, two more from companies she did not recognise, and a green and white slip which indicated that she had received registered mail.
With an irritated sigh, she distractedly pushed the pile of envelopes into her kitchen drawer which was already stuffed with unopened mail. "I wish they would stop sending these stupid payment requests," she muttered to herself. "I need something to lift my spirits." Grabbing her smart phone, she started composing a BB message to her best friend Althea.
"In a bad mood," she typed. "Desperately need retail therapy." Within a minute, Althea responded. "Always ready to roll!! Let's check out the new boutique at the mall and then do lunch at the café." With a rush of anticipation, Debbie confirmed their plans. Grinning widely, she thought to herself, "I can always depend on Althea to create the right vibes!"
Fortune's rise and fall
Debbie, a freelance communication consultant, thought back to the time 10 years ago when she had decided to set up her own office. She had handled most of the major client accounts at her employer's agency, and she believed that she could make even more money on her own. She was excited about the possibility of being her own boss.
For the first five years, business was booming. Her large corporate accounts kept her busy and profitable. She was able to buy a large two-bedroom apartment and upgrade her vehicle to the latest SUV. With money rolling in, she was finally able to enjoy the quality of life that she had always dreamed about.
The global economic crisis which emerged after 2007 marked the beginning of Debbie's financial nightmare. Many of her clients were forced to cut costs, and work slowed to a trickle. Her alternative investment portfolio disappeared overnight, and her cash inflows were dramatically reduced. For the first time in her life, Debbie was completely broke.
The great pretender
An eternal optimist, Debbie refused to let her money situation slow her down. She was sure that the global markets would soon revive, and her consulting enterprise would bounce right back with it. Until that happened, she thought that it was important to maintain her high standard of living; she knew that in business, appearances counted.
Debbie used what was left of her savings to keep afloat for nearly two years. Thankful for her good credit, she then resorted to borrowing to pay both her business and personal bills. She finally gave up her posh office and told colleagues that it was more efficient to work from home. Not even her closest friends knew the desperate financial bind that she really faced.
In Debbie's mind, her money problems are only a temporary bump along her life's journey. She believes that one day, all her challenges will disappear and that her financial status will be magically restored. Like the great pretender in the old song, Debbie has lost touch with reality and exists in a wonderland of her own making.
The truth will set you free
Are you avoiding reality in your own finances? Maybe you can't be bothered to do a budget to see what it really costs to live your lifestyle. Perhaps you are not willing to admit that your job can't pay enough to take care of your bills and achieve your goals. You may even have convinced yourself that borrowing from quick- loan companies is an acceptable way to get by.
There is a certain comfort to be derived from kidding yourself about the true state of your financial affairs. When the truth is too painful to accept, it may feel better to just pretend that all is well. For many years I was content to maintain a financial façade; like Debbie I deceived myself into thinking that one day, everything would be okay.
Take my advice - ignoring your money problems will not make them disappear. Like compound interest, they will grow exponentially over the years and eventually bring destruction. Many of you are walking and talking like financially successful persons, yet deep down, you know that you are living a lie. What's the point of continuing the pretence?
For this month's money mission, get honest with yourself about your true situation. Look in the mirror and say, "I am not happy with the state of my money affairs. I need help to turn around my financial life." Confessing and acknowledging your problem is the first step that will bring the positive change that you truly desire.
Cherryl is a money coach, business mentor and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. Her upcoming book, "The 3 Ms of Money" will reveal all the secrets she learned about financial success. Read more on money and business matters at www.financiallysmartadvice.com and www.entrepreneursinjamaica.com. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.