Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

If You Find Yourself in a Hole

with 4 comments

Total Black: $453.01
Total Red: $228,517.33

Just realized that total black never includes any cash in hand.  I suppose that’s ok since I rarely carry cash (even when I have money).  Another update: I interviewed today for an art sales position.  It’s a temporary gig tied to an exhibit here in Manhattan.  The hook: all the sellers have been displaced somehow by the Great Recession.  Check out the website: Great idea.  You’ll be sure to hear if I get selected.

I’m steadily plugging away at Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki.  Although I may wax sycophantic, I assure you I’m not getting anything for plugging his book—at least not yet.  Today’s title does comes from his book though.  Paraphrasing a phrase of Kiyosaki’s friend: if you find you’ve dug yourself into a hole, stop digging.  Simple.  Very simple.  But difficult in practice.

With a bit of distance I wonder now whether my entry earlier this week, Getting There From Here, was a touch too saturnine.  Of course, credit card company shenanigans have compounded my debt.  I just purchased a book on that, Debt for Sale: A Social History of the Credit Trap by Brett Willliams, which should shed further light on this Sisyphean task.  Any financial adviser will caution against only making minimum payments because of the length of time it will take to eliminate that debt.  And it’s not like I’m traveling around the globe or purchasing expensive or luxury goods.  I don’t have a substance-abuse problem and I’m not partying every weekend.  In all honesty though, my debt isn’t solely the fault of malicious credit card companies conspiring to get me.  If I didn’t use my credit cards, there wouldn’t be finance fees or over-the-limit fees or late-payment fees or cash advance fees or annual fees, and on and on and on.  The things I purchase, however, like meals, books, or coffee are innocuous enough that I’m able to dupe myself into thinking “it’s only a book” or a cup of coffee or dinner.

When does a reasonable purchase cross the line and become “digging”?  Am I digging myself deeper into debt when I buy a coffee at Dunkin Donuts?  I don’t have to buy coffee.  I could brew it at home.  Or, take it a step further.  I can forego coffee altogether.  It’s not necessary, at least biologically speaking.  But, for argument’s sake, let’s cut me some slack on the coffee.  Typically it costs $2, unless I end up at Starbucks, where it’ll cost more.   What about a book though?  I just purchased Debt For Sale as I typed this entry.  I like hardcovers, so I usually go to the used book section to buy books.  It’s green (used book) and cheaper (only cost $10).  But I could have gone to the library.  Or not bought it.  Didn’t I just dig myself deeper into that hole by $10.  I used my debit card at least.  I suppose I should reduce total black by ten then.

This is an important question to mull over because it strikes at our emotional hot points.  Books and coffee are pretty much the only purchases I make.  They’re my weaknesses.  Should I specifically target those two areas to strip them of their controlling influence?  Or should I find other areas to stop digging, like canceling the subscription to the newspaper, especially when it just piles up around the apartment—and is available online for free.  When is a little bit of digging acceptable, if only for an emotional fix?  Is it ever?  Or should all digging cease?


4 Responses

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  1. So I’ve been thinking about the total red and total black you include with each post indicating your net worth and I cant help but to wonder whether you a unintentional hindering your financial growth.

    Please hear me out before you get upset. The Secret’s whole premise is that the law of attraction guides all things. If we put that into action then you consistently reinforcing how much money you owe in debt will keep you in the red. Maybe you should focus instead on the amount of money you hope to be in the black and how close you are to that goal instead.

    Let me know what you think of that assessment.


    August 29, 2009 at 20:55

  2. You’re partially incorrect. While circumstances could dictate the NY public library instead of Borders, there is no substitute for coffee.

    Larry E

    August 30, 2009 at 09:33

  3. Interesting observation. I haven’t finished The Secret yet (among many books I’ve yet to complete), but I did watch the film and got far enough through the book that I remember that primary principle.

    I’ll have to think more about that. I’m definitely trying to think outside the box on ways to increase the black and thereby decrease the red. But it’s a good point to keep in mind. Worrying about the red, if I remember the law of attraction correctly, will just attract more debt to worry about.

    It’s difficult though. I hope, with this blog, to both to bring some transparency to the discussion and also refocus my own thoughts. I think it was in another post that I commented on how pointless (from mental, emotional, and even physical angles) it is to worry. It’s just figuring out a way to stop it.

    This blog is definitely a journey more than just the “debt free” destination.

    Thanks for the comment! Definitely need people to help keep me on track.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    August 30, 2009 at 10:42

  4. You’re right, of course. Maybe Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts will sponsor my blog then (especially when I’m suggesting that people reroute a day’s worth of profits from them).

    Gonna make my morning coffee now actually.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    August 30, 2009 at 10:44

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