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Author: lcd186 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 308230  
Subject: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/28/2011 12:40 PM
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A few weeks ago, gratefully I finally received my Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharge. I posted the update here: http://boards.fool.com/update-my-bankruptcy-has-been-dischar... .

How do I re-start and structure my life, from scratch? I want to start looking at my life in general and start step-by-step.

For now, either general philosophies or specific tips are terrific. I think it will take me at least 1-2 months before I have a clearer sense of how to proceed. In the near future, I will come back with more specifics, but I want to start with a framework of strategies and considerations.

I have planned to post a request for guidance since even before receiving my discharge as I know I need help regardless of the outcome. I never, ever want to get into such a financial nightmare again. Money and financial issues terrifies me at this point. It has been more than two years of financial and other mismanagement and crises which culminated what has been a lifetime of bad decisions and ignorance. Bluntly I have always sucked with money. I have rarely been able to stick completely to a budget, usually due to it being be too extreme (and blowing the budget when unexpected expenses come up), or not recording expenses and having unrealistic expectations. My debts were all related to credit card and consumer debt that I accumulated during my unemployment and unrealistic expectations of returning to work (both deteriorating mental status as well as bad economy). The odd thing about filing for bankruptcy and having no credit now is that I actually feel free for the first time in my adult life, if that seems to make sense to anyone.

A primary local resource I will re-start attending are meetings by "Debtors Anonymous" which is a 12-step program for people with debt-related issues who seek solvency (parallel to AA's "sobriety"). I had gone to a couple of meetings a year ago, but stopped going in the past year due struggling with daily life issues related to creditors, pre-bankruptcy issues, and other general life management stresses. The national website for Debtors Anonymous is http://www.debtorsanonymous.org/ in case anyone is interested; locally the NYC link is http://www.danyc.org/ .

Background. I live in NYC, in my late forties, and live alone except for cats. My only source of income is social security disability income: $2,100/month (after deduction for monthly Medicare premium including Parts A, B, and D). I have a psychiatric disability (mixed mood disorders). I have less than $100 in savings (haven't added to since pre-bankruptcy), nor assets other than my home (see below).

Regular and anticipated expenses. My residence is a low-income co-op apartment so my living expenses are considered very low locally: housing and utilities (electricity, gas, phone/internet) are just under $720/month. My only debt now are back taxes (which weren't discharged in the bankruptcy): both NY state and IRS. Already have just agreed to a $250/month payment plan for NYS (due $3,600), but still waiting on details and related for IRS (due $14,300), but I am currently estimating that my monthly payments to the IRS will be $350/month (unless I can have some of the accumulated penalties forgiven which will lower somewhat). Total est. tax payments: $600/month. Monthly transportation costs are $52/month (cost for a monthly, unlimited, disability eligible reduced fare MetroCard for trains and buses). Cell phone $34/month. My monthly groceries is admittedly still not fully controlled, but usually under $150/month. Expenses for my cats (food, cat litter) $80/month. Medical and health co-pays and expenses vary, but I go to a subsidized community health clinic so most of my co-pays are subsidized, but can range from $0/month to as much as $70/month depending on particular visits and needs plus prescription medications (currently two medications only, $1.10 and $3.30, $4.40/month, though my coverage may increase next year to $2.50 and $6.30 each, $8.80/month, but I haven't figured out exactly what my 2012 prescription coverage will be yet). Laundry expenses at this point are as high as $60/month as I do machine laundry (no home washer and dryer, only outside laundromats here) because I go about every two weeks and have been salvaging and dry cleaning selected items that I have from storage at home. For background, one of my domestic problems has been hoarding and I have been gradually going through things and throwing out damaged and unusable things, but salvaging things (bedding, winter coats, other) that are both still usable and will be needed.

Irregular expenses. Recently I started wearing reading glasses for the first time and anticipate buying extra reading glasses (now considering very cheap glasses from online, possibility zennioptical.com which sells prescription eyeglasses for as cheap at $6.95/each, plus S&H). I have various other expenses that are not monthly (immediately things that come to mind is my local gym membership). Expenses that I have had in the last one and a half years that I don't expect to recur is primarily legal expenses (primarily bankruptcy attorney firm). I have a home computer (where I am now), don't buy furniture (haven't bought furniture in years), sometimes clothing expenses (mostly underwear and socks bought at discount stores).

Short-term goals, etc. Since I own my own home, I am responsible for various home maintenance issues. There are various plumbing and domestic (walls and floors damage from upstairs leaking, other) maintenance problems which are not yet dire, but should be fixed at some point. We have also had buiding security problems and I want to have one one of my apartment door locks replaced/fixed and possibly add another one, but this might be more of a psychological and not pragmatic need.

Long-term goals, etc. Since I am now post-bankruptcy, applying for credit (credit cards or anything else) will not be considered for at least two years, though I am terrified of restarting any type of credit. I haven't looked up my FICO or credit reports in more than three years and I wonder when I should get these. Savings: obviously I need an e-fund for general domestic (above-mentioned repairs), or possible health issues. A hope I have is that I can eventually start saving for long-term fund somehow as I had depleted all of my IRA retirement assets from my work years, which had once been over $200,000 (IRA was created from my former work income, but SSDI is not earned income so I wonder if there is any sort of tax-advantaged types of long-term savings I am eligible to start). My hope is to open accounts at the same mutual funds where I had originally had my IRAs though obviously will start at looking at other possibilities. Also I hope to go to college though it may be more for personal reasons, than working as a full-time career seeker as I am uncertain how I will be with my disability in the future. And though my bankruptcy attorney never included it (he said it was too small an amount and/or preceded the time frame), I want to pay back my parents the $6,000 they gave me two years ago when I was about to be evicted for non-payment. They are low-income retirees and this was a significant meaningful chunk of their assets. This was intended as a gift, but in good conscience I want to be able to repay them.

Thank you.

Lois Carmen D.

P.S. I have spent about two hours trying to write, organize, and edit this post. Hope this is clear.
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Author: TMFHRFool One star, 50 posts CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303703 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/28/2011 4:32 PM
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Hi Lois,

Congratulations on your new feeling of freedom. It's too bad that you had to go through so much, but hopefully the new start and the change in the way you look at your finances will be just what you need to start feeling more in control.

It looks like you have a pretty good start to a budget. However, what you have listed is almost $1,800 in regular known (basically) monthly expenses leaving you with only about $300 a month left over for everything else that comes up.

What usually gets me into trouble is all of the little irregular stuff that comes up that I forgot to put in my budget. So, I'd recommend taking a very good look at those items and writing down where you spend every dollar and adjust your budget accordingly. As David Gardner likes to say, "you are making an investment decision every time you decide where to spend even one dollar."

For example, if you get your hair cut every 8 weeks and it's $35 each time with a tip, then you need to make sure that it's included in your budget every month so that you have the money accounted for when it comes time to get your hair cut. You did mention your gym membership being an irregular payment, so be sure that makes it into your monthly budget.

I also get into trouble when my budget is not realistic and/or I think I can cut back in an area but then don't or can't. You mention that your grocery budget is $150/month. Is that just food or everything that you buy at the grocery store? My grocery budget has to include everything I buy there so that I can track and manage that expense accurately. Therefore, it also includes my cat food/litter, dog food, cleaning supplies, paper products, toiletries, etc. and it's about $400/mo with all of those items included. (For what it's worth, I use Groupon and/or LivingSocial specials to subscribe cheaply to the Sunday paper because I save so much money using the coupons.)

Other things you haven't mentioned is entertainment, eating out, coffee shops, magazine or newpaper subscriptions, gifts, charity or tithing. Even if it's occassional, those things need to be included in your budget so that they don't mess your budget up when they do pop up. For me at least, that's the big issue with budgeting...as soon as I've blown it, I give up. If I make it very realistic up front, I can stick to it and I'm very proud of myself whenever I come in a little under.

For your household repairs, I'd suggest putting in a monthly budget item to save some money into an account to cover those items once you can pay for them. If you can tuck away $50/month, you'll feel great when you have saved enough to take care of the things that you know need to be done.

And, you probably need to budget a little mad money too, so you don't go nuts and feel like you don't have anything for "you."

Anything left over, needs to go into savings. You absolutely need to get an e-fund built up before even thinking about investing.

Hope this helps get you started! Keep posting!!

Angelique

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Author: TMFHRFool One star, 50 posts CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303704 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/28/2011 4:35 PM
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I also have my own personal blog at http://www.debtfreechick.wordpress.com where I try to post regularly about things that I've come across that are helpful (or hurtful) to me in trying to manage my own finances. I've posted about several free online budgeting tools, etc...if you feel like checking it out.

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Author: yeilBagheera Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303706 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/28/2011 9:36 PM
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How do I re-start and structure my life, from scratch? I want to start looking at my life in general and start step-by-step.


May I suggest walking to the library every couple of weeks?
I keep track of what I've read and want to read: from detective fiction to pretty picture books of faraway places to cookbooks.

There is some accounting to do: income received, bills coming due and getting paid on time. Making a list of bills that don't come due every month (and then saving as time goes so you can pay them). Sorting the papers for next spring's taxes.

Maybe start a list of the household improvements. I haven't been a homeowner in your situation, but imagine that there's some research to do (cheapest alternative, longest lasting repair, cheapest labor, convenient supplier, reliable workmen) - so you might start that project.

I applaud your intent to attend meetings - those can be the beginning of your new schedule.

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Author: lcd186 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303707 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 8:10 AM
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Good morning Angelique,

Thanks so much for your tips! Some responses.

It looks like you have a pretty good start to a budget. However, what you have listed is almost $1,800 in regular known (basically) monthly expenses leaving you with only about $300 a month left over for everything else that comes up.

Yes, exactly an issue. I haven't figured out adequately for the non-listed, non-regular expenses.

What usually gets me into trouble is all of the little irregular stuff that comes up that I forgot to put in my budget. So, I'd recommend taking a very good look at those items and writing down where you spend every dollar and adjust your budget accordingly. As David Gardner likes to say, "you are making an investment decision every time you decide where to spend even one dollar."

Yes, I swear that most of my budget is all the little irregulars. Stuff that I pay for in cash is what kills me; it is why I try and use my debit card for everything. And I have never heard that before, love the Gardner quote! Great way of thinking about expenses.

For example, if you get your hair cut every 8 weeks and it's $35 each time with a tip, then you need to make sure that it's included in your budget every month so that you have the money accounted for when it comes time to get your hair cut. You did mention your gym membership being an irregular payment, so be sure that makes it into your monthly budget.

Response on a detail: this year, I had two paid haircuts; one, my mother insisted on paying for me which was in January, the second I paid for myself in early June. Oh, and my current haircut was cut by an, ahem, 'aspiring' hairstylist, so it was a freebie. And, um, looks like it, LOL! Admittedly I am not too concerned about many aspects of my appearance. On the gym membership: it is $99 every six months, very convenient to my home, and I love it. Plus it is a strong help in my keeping not depressed and feeling well. Only one of a number of annual, or semi-annual expenses which I'm sure I can't remember as of now, but that would be $18/month, if I can remember to put it in my budget!

I also get into trouble when my budget is not realistic and/or I think I can cut back in an area but then don't or can't.

A huge problem I have had in the past. I try to remember to write down anything and everything if I take out cash, but I forget. I used to keep small, spiral notebooks on me, but now I just try and keep a plain, blank paper with a pen. But I also am prone to extreme distractibility, separate from some impulsivity (which has gone much, much better). Unplanned out of pocket expenses is a thing I have gained much better control over in recent years, but the temptation is there. Primary vulnerable areas are when I go to discount stores, or when I get food outside.

You mention that your grocery budget is $150/month. Is that just food or everything that you buy at the grocery store? My grocery budget has to include everything I buy there so that I can track and manage that expense accurately. Therefore, it also includes my cat food/litter, dog food, cleaning supplies, paper products, toiletries, etc. and it's about $400/mo with all of those items included.

Just food. My estimate for all the non-food per month is about $50, but many of my items (especially cleaning supplies and toiletries) can be much higher or lower in a given month. Obviously depends on need. An example, I have a membership at BJ's Wholesale Club (it is like a Costco, or Sam's Club, not sure what parts of the country it is in) and I buy bulk materials especially toilet paper, but it lasts usually many months, or sometimes a year or so.

(For what it's worth, I use Groupon and/or LivingSocial specials to subscribe cheaply to the Sunday paper because I save so much money using the coupons.)

I have only started to hear about these things, I've never used it.

Other things you haven't mentioned is entertainment, eating out, coffee shops, magazine or newpaper subscriptions, gifts, charity or tithing. Even if it's occassional, those things need to be included in your budget so that they don't mess your budget up when they do pop up. For me at least, that's the big issue with budgeting...as soon as I've blown it, I give up. If I make it very realistic up front, I can stick to it and I'm very proud of myself whenever I come in a little under.

I stopped buying the newspapers years ago because it adds to my domestic mess (I am a hoarder) as well as expense. I don't even know how much a weekly paper subscription is anymore, but I used to get the New York Times (I don't even know how much is the daily, $1.75 and then about $4 for Sunday). I can't afford it. No subscriptions, one membership (thanks for the reminder), I very rarely give gifts of any type, though eating out and coffee shops can easily become a significant source of unplanned expenses. Thanks for reminding me on this.

For your household repairs, I'd suggest putting in a monthly budget item to save some money into an account to cover those items once you can pay for them. If you can tuck away $50/month, you'll feel great when you have saved enough to take care of the things that you know need to be done.

Good idea, I forgot about putting to a savings budget specifically and separately from an E-fund, just for repairs. I think my walls and plumbing will continue to last for a while. (I hope!)

And, you probably need to budget a little mad money too, so you don't go nuts and feel like you don't have anything for "you."

LOL! Honestly, I don't think I deserve any type of mad money. I think I need to think of non-monetary ways of rewarding myself, or having fun. It is like when I've been dieting, I try not to reward myself by eating an extra helping of something (I have a gluttonous appetite), or being tempted by a dessert that I otherwise wouldn't look twice at. I have a hard time regulating myself in all areas of my life though I have gotten better with time and grave necessity.

Anything left over, needs to go into savings. You absolutely need to get an e-fund built up before even thinking about investing.

A difficulty I have is seeing any money leftover as "oh, good! I still have money left. Let me spend it all on [blank]!" I have had impulsivity issues in the past, I am very afraid of not being able to control myself.

Hope this helps get you started! Keep posting!!

Angelique


Yes, it helps! And thanks much for the link to your blog, I'll check it out eagerly.

Lois Carmen D.

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Author: lcd186 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303708 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 8:15 AM
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Hello yeilBagheera,

All great tips, thank you!

I have to remember to go to the library. One of my weak spots in past years was buying books, instead of borrowing. The closest, neighborhood libraries don't have very good selections unfortunately (massively reduced inventory of good stuff), but the larger, central branches have good ones. I have to make the effort to go to those.

Accounting: fortunately I use online payments from my bank account. It has been a lifesaver for me as I used to lose bills, forget stamps, or related even when I actually had a good income and happened too frequently even for my regular monthly expenses. I have to figure out a good system for myself for the irregular (non-monthly) expenses, but I can pay most of them online, too.

Great idea about starting a list of household improvements. I keep a list of recipes on my kitchen wall, but I think I should start to do this with a list of necessary repairs, etc. (and since most are for the kitchen, this is the perfect spot!)

Thank you!

Lois Carmen D.

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Author: kittykitty6 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303709 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 10:22 AM
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The closest, neighborhood libraries don't have very good selections unfortunately (massively reduced inventory of good stuff), but the larger, central branches have good ones. I have to make the effort to go to those.

As a librarian I should point out that any book you might want can be ordered through interlibrary loan - usually from the main branch to the neighborhood branch - but of course from anywhere in the country as well. In a lot of cases this can all be accomplished online. I place holds on all of my library books online, and they're there waiting for me when I go to pick them up. Not all libraries offer this, of course, but it is very handy.

Good luck!

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Author: xtn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303710 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 10:34 AM
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lcd -

I am about to write some stuff that may sound belittling or otherwise offensive. Please know that I don't intend it to sound that way. My only intent is to offer helpful advice.

I believe a lot of your problems are self induced. In fact you stated that bad decisions got you where you are. All the little bits of financial advice you get from others are good, but they aren't going to fix your problem unless you fix yourself. You've got to change YOU!

I used to spend more than my income. The only way I finally fixed myself was with brainwashing. The basic technique I recommend is to keep telling yourself something and you'll start believing it later. It really can work.

Stop saying that you're forgetful and easily distracted. You're subconsciously giving yourself excuses. Instead, start telling yourself that you are NOT forgetful. You are NOT easily distracted. You ARE the meticulous kind of guy who can easily resist spending temptations and always write down what you do spend. Repeat these things to yourself every thirty minutes throughout the day. Say them out loud. Say them forcefully and with determination in your voice. Say them in your brain as you lay peacefully in bed before you fall asleep. Dream them. Wake up in the morning and start saying them again.

Doesn't matter if you believe any of it. If you keep telling yourself that stuff long enough, you will come to believe it eventually. Really.

Then incorporate actions into the methodology. You WILL not waste that dollar. You WILL write down what you do spend. You WILL check your budget progress each morning before breakfast. You REFUSE to succumb to your old ways.

Use emotions to reinforce the messages and the actions.

Anger - Get mad at your old self. Really mad. Your old self screwed it up for your current self. The old you, with his bad habits and lazy attitude, pissed away some of your future. Despise him. Yell at him. Accuse him of all sorts of vile behaviors like being lazy, lying, making excuses for poor behavior, making bad decisions, etc. He really did a number on you, spending your future on his past. Gosh durnit you aren't going to let him interfere with your future another second of your life!

Fear - if you don't get on track, you're going to eventually spiral into financial hell. You can't use bankruptcy again for quite a while. Only you can prevent that decline. Only you can pull yourself into a position of financial security. If you don't, your going to die cold and alone on a wet concrete floor in the dark.

Okay, that's a bit extreme. But use it. Make yourself feel the anger and the fear. Make yourself repeat the positive messages. Make these things your habit. Your ritual. Your reason for breathing. You must become a soldier fighting the war for your financial future. You're trapped in a fox hole and your only chance for survival is to get tough, get mean, and kill the spending enemy!

Soldiers don't need no stinkin gym membership. They hump twenty clicks through the mud. Soldiers don't need no stinkin bagel and latte, they eat crappy ration mush on the run and they like it. Nobody else is going to do the fighting for you. You're the soldier. You alone.

xtn

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Author: llamalluv Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303711 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 10:58 AM
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You say that you live in a co-op. Is there a management association that can levy repair or improvement fees? If so, how are you prepared to come up with a large assessment should it surprise you?

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Author: ZootsTwin One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303712 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 11:34 AM
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For background, one of my domestic problems has been hoarding and I have been gradually going through things and throwing out damaged and unusable things, but salvaging things (bedding, winter coats, other) that are both still usable and will be needed.

Just wanted to highlight this, and say GOOD FOR YOU.

I am not a hoarder myself, but there are people in my life who are--and so I've seen first-hand how difficult it is for a hoarder to even begin to engage in the behavior you're talking about. I'm so proud of you!

zt

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Author: Fuskie Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Ticker Guide SC1 Red Winner of the 2010 Rule Breakers Challenge Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303714 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 2:40 PM
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Let me add my own two cents.

Penny #1: You are not starting from scratch. You have some 40 years of experience on your side. You know the consequences of reverting back to your pre-BK patterns. You have the benefit of being able to recognize those behaviors and you have the option of demonstrating the wisdom to change from them.

Penny #2: You should sign up for CreditKarma.com and check your estimated credit score for free once a month, say on the first of each month. You will be able to track how time heals the wounds of your BK. The sight is packed full of personalized information about your credit, plus you can see your Insurance score as well; just ignore all the credit offers that pay for the free service.

You should also visit annualcreditreport.com once a year to get your free (no jingle or subscription service required) federally provided credit report just to check it over and see that the BK was recorded correctly and to make sure other debts don't suddenly appear out of thin air. You can also go to Quizzle.com to get a fresh credit report once every six months; schedule this 3 months after your federal credit report to give yourself an updated look for free for 3 quarters of the year.

Fuskie
Who agrees with previous posts that suggest you can use your disability as an excuse or as a challenge to be overcome, and that decision could be the most important in determining whether your greatest fear of sliding back into financial trouble are realized...

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Author: GuildWarsQueen Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303716 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 3:11 PM
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I have to remember to go to the library. One of my weak spots in past years was buying books, instead of borrowing. The closest, neighborhood libraries don't have very good selections unfortunately (massively reduced inventory of good stuff), but the larger, central branches have good ones. I have to make the effort to go to those.

See if you can have books you're interested in transferred from the central library to your neighborhood branch.

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Author: tconi Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303717 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 3:20 PM
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pssst- lcd is a chick

peace & just saying
t

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Author: aj485 Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303718 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 3:39 PM
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I have to remember to go to the library. One of my weak spots in past years was buying books, instead of borrowing. The closest, neighborhood libraries don't have very good selections unfortunately (massively reduced inventory of good stuff), but the larger, central branches have good ones. I have to make the effort to go to those.

New York City, right? You can order books from other branches to be delivered to your local library: http://www.nypl.org/help/borrowing-materials

How do I request Library materials?
Using The Library’s online catalog, you may request up to 15* circulating items at a time to be delivered to the Library location of your choice. You may also place requests with the assistance of a Library staff member.


For people in other cities with multiple library branches, many library systems have a similar process.

AJ

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303720 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 5:01 PM
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A difficulty I have is seeing any money leftover as "oh, good! I still have money left. Let me spend it all on [blank]!" I have had impulsivity issues in the past, I am very afraid of not being able to control myself.

I definately do this with cash! In that case, it's probably better to do the 'pay yourself first' thing and put a little money aside as soon as you get your check, even if you can only start with 10 dollars a month or so. Out of sight, out of mind.

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303721 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 5:03 PM
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As a librarian I should point out that any book you might want can be ordered through interlibrary loan

I have done this with new books and it's pretty awesome, if you are willing to wait! Heh.

My kindle makes it hard, though, becuase it lets me buy things immediately.

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Author: GuildWarsQueen Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303724 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 7:27 PM
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I am about to write some stuff that may sound belittling or otherwise offensive. Please know that I don't intend it to sound that way. My only intent is to offer helpful advice.

And you manage to sound like a pompous a**.

So if someone has mental health issues they just need to will themselves better? It's something they can snap out of any time they want to?

If I was really depressed and read this, it would only make me feel even worse.

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Author: cabinsmama Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303726 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 8:57 PM
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Soldiers don't need no stinkin gym membership. They hump twenty clicks through the mud. Soldiers don't need no stinkin bagel and latte, they eat crappy ration mush on the run and they like it. Nobody else is going to do the fighting for you. You're the soldier. You alone.

They seem to need something.


Defense Department statistics indicate that since January, 2001, 2,293 active-duty service members have taken their own lives, including the ones who never deployed overseas. By comparison, 6,139 service members have died in Afghanistan and Iraq in the same period.

The military is sending a very strong message, or trying to, that the "lone warrior on his own" is not a good way to manage depression that is reaching suicide levels. The DoD is putting a number of programs into place so a struggling warrior can find a compassionate, understanding voice when they need it, because stress, depression, PTSD, etc. are real and they kill.

They are finding that the most helpful voice is someone who has been there, another service member, who knows what the suffering person is dealing with. Who will meet them with understanding, not a "suck it up and quit whining" attitude.

People have died from the attitude expressed here. They did get mad at themselves. They did get afraid. And then some of them got dead.

You're crossing the line here into mental health treatment with the advice you're giving. You're giving very specific behavioral suggestions to someone you don't know. I doubt you'll agree, as I'm sure to you it's just a pep talk, but you're practicing mental health therapy without a license or sense of ethics,and it's wrong.

Please stop.

cm

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Author: InconclusiveFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303727 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 9:23 PM
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But there is something to be said for the power of positive thought. The glass is half full, rather than half empty.

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303728 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 9:42 PM
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But there is something to be said for the power of positive thought.

No there isn't. You don't know a damned thing about it. Depression is not treatable by cutesy-wutesy pep talks. It also isn't treated by sneers of contempt. If she had a broken body you would realize she needs medical help. She has a broken mind and is struggling to deal with it. Sneering at her won't help.

Depression isn't cured by sneers of contempt like the one xtn posted. It isn't cured by assurances of "cheer up, everything will be fine." Why don't the two of you just mail her a razor blade and tell her to kill herself? Because that's what you're saying. "Oh, you're just too weak and lame. You could be fine, you just like sulking in the corner." Depression is a serious illness that can destroy a person.

Stop practicing medicine without a license. If you can't offer the kind of help she asked for, which is dealing with her financial problems, then at least have the grace not to dump on her.

Nancy

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Author: InconclusiveFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303729 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 9:47 PM
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"Stop practicing medicine without a license."

I'm not practicing medicine. I simply suggested that being positive is better than being negative. Do you really believe that isn't true?

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Author: InconclusiveFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303730 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 9:49 PM
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"Why don't the two of you just mail her a razor blade and tell her to kill herself? Because that's what you're saying."

That is a such a complete and total mischaracterization of what I said, that it approaches slander.

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303731 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 10:03 PM
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That is a such a complete and total mischaracterization of what I said, that it approaches slander.

No it isn't. I'm talking about the effect you're having on her. Not your actual words, but their effect. And all too often depressives are hit with stupid platitudes. "Let a smile be your umbrella." "Walk on the sunny side of the street." "Remember, the glass is half-full, not half-empty!"

And all they do is make a bad situation worse, because it reveals the kind of contempt you have for people who are struggling with a disease you don't understand.

Nancy

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303732 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 10:07 PM
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I'm not practicing medicine. I simply suggested that being positive is better than being negative. Do you really believe that isn't true?
Yes, totally true for most people.

BUT...this poster has explicitly stated that she is struggling with depression and mental health issues, and for that it's not at all on point. People are just saying that you are suggesting something that may not be possible, and as such is not only not useful to the conversation but may truly be harmful.

No - it isn't "practicing medicine," or any other overblown such terms. But it is relatively clueless. You can't just snap someone out of mental health issues by telling them to man up and be a soldier.

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Author: InconclusiveFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303733 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 10:16 PM
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"You can't just snap someone out of mental health issues by telling them to man up and be a soldier."

My only suggestion was to "think positive." If that's not allowed in these forums any longer, we're really in trouble.

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Author: InconclusiveFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303734 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 10:17 PM
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"it reveals the kind of contempt you have for people who are struggling with a disease you don't understand."

That statement is completely false and totally slanderous.

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303735 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 10:22 PM
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No - it isn't "practicing medicine," or any other overblown such terms. But it is relatively clueless. You can't just snap someone out of mental health issues by telling them to man up and be a soldier.

Or by telling them to look on the bright side. Yes, maybe calling it practicing medicine is just born out of frustration with a society that believes that mental illness is some form of laziness. I've been through bouts of depression, and believe me, if people had told me to look on the bright side I'd have been hunting for the pills.

Nancy

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303736 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 10:26 PM
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That statement is completely false and totally slanderous.

If you think that telling a badly depressed person to "think positive" is helpful, then you clearly don't understand the problem. You don't understand how deep the problem lies, which means that you think she's making too much of it.

And go find an online dictionary. Look up slander before you start tossing it around.

Nancy

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303737 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 10:26 PM
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My only suggestion was to "think positive." If that's not allowed in these forums any longer, we're really in trouble.
It's not that it's not "allowed" - and in general I think it's excellent advice for all of us.

It's just that in this case it shows you either didn't really read the OP's post, or just didn't care about the details of it. She isn't someone feeling a bit blue - she has serious issues with depression and mental health. Your advice that is disingenuous.

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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303739 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 11:18 PM
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But there is something to be said for the power of positive thought. The glass is half full, rather than half empty.



Which does not help when you have a chemical inbalance.

All the positive thinking in the world did not help me (and you know this). Medication did and real therapy did.

She has a documented mental illness with a past hospitalization.

Positive thinking is not a cure for that.

Ishtar

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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303740 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 11:20 PM
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I'm not practicing medicine. I simply suggested that being positive is better than being negative. Do you really believe that isn't true?


It may not be possible when you have an real illness.

Then again, when manic, too much positive thinking is also a problem.

Ishtar

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Author: InconclusiveFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303741 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 11:32 PM
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"Look up slander before you start tossing it around."


http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/slander

"a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report"

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Author: kittykitty6 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303742 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/29/2011 11:40 PM
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"a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report"

I believe you meant to say "libel" rather than "slander."

Slander generally refers to the spoken word. Libel refers to the written word.

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Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 3:07 AM
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"I believe you meant to say "libel" rather than "slander." Slander generally refers to the spoken word. Libel refers to the written word."


Poster stated in a previous post in this string directed at me, "I'm talking about the effect you're having on her." Talking refers to the spoken word.

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Author: InconclusiveFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303744 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 3:56 AM
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But the poster's attempt at turning their financial life around has to include an emphasis on the "I can do this" rather than "I can't do this." I joke around alot about being cheap, and it is partly true. But the bigger practical reality is that my lifetime of frugality is based me/we taking control of all aspects of our financial lives.

Neither the OP, nor anyone else, will make a dent in reclaiming financial independence until they take even the smallest steps forward and not look back. The bankruptcy appears to be done if I understand the post correctly. OK - let's move on. Analyze every penny of income, and outflow. I mean every penny. There are millions of ways to do that. Some have been suggested here but here are a few of my tools and techniques:

- Keep a piece of paper in your pocket and write down every penny spent, every day. Look at it every night - what was my outflow today? No expense is too small to challenge. Which of those are not essential to sustain life? Eliminate those. Which can I do differently to save $, etc., etc.

- Do the same analysis with income from whatever source(s.) Do I have other options to increase income (second job, pay raise at current job, etc., etc.)

- What things are available to me for free, that I may not be taking advantage of? What coupons, free offers, barter opportunities can I take advantage of to result in goods and/or services at no cost?

- Look at the people around me who may be influencing me in a negative financial way. It would be no surprise to you that in addition to our families, our closest friends are as frugal/cheap/tighwadded as we are. Our collective lifestyles and interactions are based on how can we do something for the least cost/best value.

- Set financial goals and plans and monitor progress every day. Since my first job as a teenager long ago, I always had a plan, usually written down in some way, about how I wanted to spend/save my money. It doesn't need to be sophisticated, but it needs to be goal oriented. Also, the goals should be be both short and long-term. What do I want to achieve today? Next month? Next year? In 5 years?

Anecdote: In high school (Summer of 1976) I wanted to buy my first expensive camera - a Canon F-1 35mm SLR. My parents couldn't possibly afford to buy it for me so I set savings goals from my after school and Summer jobs and ultimately saved enough money to buy it. I still have the camera and lens, and the original sales receipt from purchase. Saving the money for it caused me to have to make choices about not buying other things. I did that then, and that's how I/we approach everything financially.

There are many people here who are alot smarter than me/us in terms of economics and financial topics. Their ideas are probably better than mine. But after a lifetime of debt-free, zero $ consumer interest paid frugality, I feel I have some qualifications to offer advice on this topic. As such, I still stand by my original philosophy that the OP needs to look at this from a positive "I can do it" perspective, and take specific, concrete forward steps, if they hope to be successful in this regard. Anything less will not result in the desired outcome.

We look at financial planning as a battle: sellers want to take as much money as they can from us, and we want to give them as little as possible. That recurring starting point is pretty much the basis from which we operate. Good luck to the OP - I know they can do it.

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Author: kittykitty6 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303745 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 6:15 AM
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"I'm talking about the effect you're having on her." Talking refers to the spoken word.

Yes, but she wasn't literally sitting at her computer talking at her screen, or conversing via Skype with you. "Talking" was being used colloquially.

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303746 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 8:27 AM
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I just want to make a point on all this 'pos/neg thinking' discussion. Let me preface this by saying that I am NOT a doctor :)

Yes, if you have a chemical imbalance you may need medicine, but I think we can hope that the OP knows this and is seeing a qualified doctor, or at least suggest that she do so.

But in Mental Health, we know that Medicine+Therapy is the best way to treat depression. And one of the things you might address in therapy is changing thinking patterns. No, you don't want that therapy delivered by random people on the internet, but the basic idea of changing thinking patterns may be sound. For instance, look at the description for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

"Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for depression. At the heart of CBT is an assumption that a person's mood is directly related to his or her patterns of thought. Negative, dysfunctional thinking affects a person's mood, sense of self, behavior, and even physical state. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help a person learn to recognize negative patterns of thought, evaluate their validity, and replace them with healthier ways of thinking."

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Author: lcd186 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303748 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 8:55 AM
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Interesting responses and tangents.

Some replies to specific comments first.

kittykitty6: As a librarian I should point out that any book you might want can be ordered through interlibrary loan - usually from the main branch to the neighborhood branch - but of course from anywhere in the country as well. In a lot of cases this can all be accomplished online. I place holds on all of my library books online, and they're there waiting for me when I go to pick them up. Not all libraries offer this, of course, but it is very handy.

Thank you for this information. I forgot about this feature as I tend to not take out (borrow) books from the library. I also want to explain that what I miss about the library from my youth was that I used to be able to wander about massive shelves, skim the numerous books and just pick out books that interested me. Now, looking at the online database catalogues for a book title and requesting it isn't quite the same. I do still look up books online and the catalogue, but the old feeling and fondness for roaming the shelves and finding an unexpected gem doesn't happen the same way.

llamlluv: You say that you live in a co-op. Is there a management association that can levy repair or improvement fees? If so, how are you prepared to come up with a large assessment should it surprise you?

Excellent point. Not sure how other co-ops are run, but we don't have the same setup here. When/if we sell, we're responsible.

ZootsTwin: Just wanted to highlight this, and say GOOD FOR YOU.

I am not a hoarder myself, but there are people in my life who are--and so I've seen first-hand how difficult it is for a hoarder to even begin to engage in the behavior you're talking about. I'm so proud of you!


Thank you for your comment. I think I have shown forms of hoarding since adolescence and I think I only realized it was a serious issue maybe some 10 or so years ago. What helped me was getting rid of people who badgered me constantly about it and, instead, tried to support and discuss things without turning it emotional. It is still a process.

Fuskie: Let me add my own two cents. ...

Actually, I think it is at least three cents' worth and very good. Thank you for the discounted reply.

Lea77: I definately do this with cash! In that case, it's probably better to do the 'pay yourself first' thing and put a little money aside as soon as you get your check, even if you can only start with 10 dollars a month or so. Out of sight, out of mind.

Good idea! I have to figure out what amount, but even $10 a month should be workable.

I hope I haven't missed other significant tips in the replies, but right now I'm buried in trying to catch up.

Thanks to each of you.

Lois Carmen D.

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303749 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:12 AM
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But in Mental Health, we know that Medicine+Therapy is the best way to treat depression. And one of the things you might address in therapy is changing thinking patterns. No, you don't want that therapy delivered by random people on the internet, but the basic idea of changing thinking patterns may be sound.

I do understand the need to change thinking patterns. I also know how difficult it is to do so, even when working with a trained counselor or therapist, with or without the use of meds. But the attitude displayed in the post I objected to, "just cheer up and everything will be fine" makes it clear that the poster doesn't understand the depth or complexity of the problem. This is where the overall problem lies: that society scorns people with mental diseases, and many people believe that people who are struggling with these problems are making too much of it. Mental illness is regarded as a weakness, or a flaw in someone's character, rather than a disease.

Nancy

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Author: lcd186 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303750 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:15 AM
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Now to the unintended discussion which I will categorize roughly as a debate between two issues: the power of positive thinking versus mental impairment and illness.

xtn: I am about to write some stuff that may sound belittling or otherwise offensive. Please know that I don't intend it to sound that way. My only intent is to offer helpful advice.

I believe a lot of your problems are self induced. In fact you stated that bad decisions got you where you are. All the little bits of financial advice you get from others are good, but they aren't going to fix your problem unless you fix yourself. You've got to change YOU!
...
Stop saying that you're forgetful and easily distracted. You're subconsciously giving yourself excuses. Instead, start telling yourself that you are NOT forgetful. You are NOT easily distracted. You ARE the meticulous kind of guy who can easily resist spending temptations and always write down what you do spend. Repeat these things to yourself every thirty minutes throughout the day.
...
Doesn't matter if you believe any of it. If you keep telling yourself that stuff long enough, you will come to believe it eventually. Really.


Short and sweet response to the above excerpts: I understand that you have shared your understanding, perspective, and thoughts on how I should proceed, but there are many considerations that your take on my situation does not comprehend. You are assuming that merely using conscious will will resolve my difficulties. Unfortunately my incapacities require more than simple will to handle. Additionally, some of your tips are actually harmful (not just to other mentally ill, but myself in particular); of particular note:
Use emotions to reinforce the messages and the actions.

Anger - Get mad at your old self. Really mad. ...

Fear - if you don't get on track, you're going to eventually spiral into financial hell. ...


You do not know the heavily damaging potential of this type of advice and lack of awareness of some mental illnesses, particularly my issues and background. Please don't recommend this to a mentally ill person. I would plead to anyone who is dealing with a mentally ill person to not use such a strategy to have them "help" themselves.

In general, I infer from your reply that you may feel that mental illness is something that any mentally ill person can just will themselves to fix, in particular by ignoring the reality and by pretending that things are fine. I assure you that I have spent almost my entire life using this strategy. I have been surrounded by people with this time of mindset. It didn't help, it only allowed my mental issues to get become worsen, rot, and fester. There are times when we all need to recognize that we cannot handle some problems or matters by ourselves. Mental illness is one.

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Author: kittykitty6 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303751 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:16 AM
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This book was a real eye-opener for me:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0805087494/ref=nosim/...

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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303752 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:16 AM
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But in Mental Health, we know that Medicine+Therapy is the best way to treat depression. And one of the things you might address in therapy is changing thinking patterns. No, you don't want that therapy delivered by random people on the internet, but the basic idea of changing thinking patterns may be sound. For instance, look at the description for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

"Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for depression. At the heart of CBT is an assumption that a person's mood is directly related to his or her patterns of thought. Negative, dysfunctional thinking affects a person's mood, sense of self, behavior, and even physical state. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help a person learn to recognize negative patterns of thought, evaluate their validity, and replace them with healthier ways of thinking."


Agreed.

But CBT is undertaken with the help of a therapist.

Lcd is working with doctors (or else she wouldn't have been able to get disability).

She needs to work with her doctor.

But, from my perspective, and from the perspective of many others who have been through depression and mental health issues, being told to think your way out of one of your main personality traits?

She says she's distractable. That shows insight. And she's trying to work with that insight.

Telling oneself that you are NOT distractable does not help. Part of bipolar is being distractable and impulsive. Like someone with ADD (which often goes hand-in-hand with bipolar) you can't will yourself out of that. So you need to develop tools to deal with it (setting timers, making lists, etc). Being told, "Just tell yourself you're not you!" does NOT help.


Ishtar

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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303753 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:19 AM
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lcd, I want to rec your response to xtn a million times.

Those of us who deal with this daily agree with you.

Ishtar

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303754 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:20 AM
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I have to figure out what amount, but even $10 a month should be workable.

I said 10 because I figure just about anyone can scrounge up 10 bucks! Obviously you will have to see what fits in your budget. I have found that if I start putting a little bit aside I find myself wanting to put more and more. Habits build and all that.

Karen, I just know that changing your negative thoughts is part of effective thearpy and I thought people were being a bit too hard on IF. It's certainly not as easy as saying 'buck up little camper'! I work in the MH field, although I'm not a clinician, so I certainly have sympathy for how difficult these things can be.

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303755 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:24 AM
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Crap, I mean Nancy, not Karen! Sorry, coworker on the brain.

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Author: lcd186 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303756 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:27 AM
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Special thanks to all the posters here who spoke up and addressed the potentially harmful, or erroneous issues regarding mental illness matters and related. In particular, to these individuals: (I hope I didn't miss anyone)

- GuildWarsQueen
- cabinsmama
- Windowseat
- Gingko100
- ishtarastarte


Had you not spoken on behalf of the issues, especially adding the potential impact on others who may be suffering with mental illness and particularly to those who lack support and proper treatment. Special thanks to cabinsmama for addressing xtn's analogy to soldiers by describing real soldiers' suffering and high suicide rates in the face of inadequate or no treatment at all. Had each of you not addressed the fallacies of the positive thinking route in these situations, I actually was planning to just ignore it. Thank you for providing the encouragement to address it.

Also special thanks to tconi. You made me smile. Correct, I am a woman, not a man as the poster had assumed.

I have now spent about two hours longer on this thread that I had intended, but I wanted to put in some response on all this.

Again, thank you.

Lois Carmen D.

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Author: lcd186 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303757 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:37 AM
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Lea77: But in Mental Health, we know that Medicine+Therapy is the best way to treat depression. And one of the things you might address in therapy is changing thinking patterns. No, you don't want that therapy delivered by random people on the internet, but the basic idea of changing thinking patterns may be sound. For instance, look at the description for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

"Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for depression. At the heart of CBT is an assumption that a person's mood is directly related to his or her patterns of thought. Negative, dysfunctional thinking affects a person's mood, sense of self, behavior, and even physical state. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help a person learn to recognize negative patterns of thought, evaluate their validity, and replace them with healthier ways of thinking."


My apologies, but somehow I missed copying and responding to this in my previous replies.

I understand and agree. Until my significant deterioration more than two years ago, I had been in weekly therapy with an excellent CBT therapist; I had been in treatment with him for a while and we were making progress. A hard part of the process was actually using some workbooks as guidelines and at-home (outside of therapy sessions) necessary work. Difficult for me to follow through with (distractible, unstructured me), but a valuable part of my process. Unfortunately, I ran out of money. I had been paying out of pocket and the facility where the CBT therapist worked does not take insurance.

And with your reply, it serves as thanks for reminding me to dig out those workbooks and get back to work on my own, even if I don't have a professional therapist. It gives me at least some guidance for now until I can find a similar option which I can have paid for, or other.

Lois Carmen D.

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Author: vkg Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303760 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:48 AM
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There are times when we all need to recognize that we cannot handle some problems or matters by ourselves. Mental illness is one.

You have made a significant step in seeking help.

An in-law was hospitalized for a number of months. His actions were such that we took him to a VA mental health clinic (the problems are not service related, but he is a veteran). He initially agreed to admission, but when he attempted to leave he was 5150ed. He still believes that his only problem was he didn't have a job and claim that we have destroyed his life by having him admitted. Not having a job was a contributing factor, but far from his only problem.

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303761 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 10:00 AM
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She needs to work with her doctor.

Absolutely! I think she sounds understands herself and knows what she needs to do on the MH front better than any of us could say.

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Author: 2gifts Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303762 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 10:07 AM
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I have to figure out what amount, but even $10 a month should be workable.

Something that I did when I first started saving that worked for me was to start with a small amount, say that $10, and then add $5 to it the next month. Continue to do that until you reach the point where the extra $5 hurts, and then back it down by that last $5. You will end up at a number higher than your initial savings amount, you will have worked up to it gradually so that it is a reasonable part of your budget, and you will surprise yourself that you can put away more than you had thought.

I find this method easier than picking a high number that might be unrealistic, and you end up with more savings than you initially thought. That can be a very nice surprise, and a nice motivator.

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303763 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 10:08 AM
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Unfortunately, I ran out of money.

I'm very sorry to hear that. I hope that using your old workbooks will be helpful and that maybe you'll find some other way to get therapy, if you still need it. I don't know much about what is available pro bono or through the community but maybe you can research it?

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Author: cabinsmama Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303764 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 10:10 AM
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To be fair, I think InconclusiveFool took some ire that was meant for xtn, as he came in with some positive thinking posts right when folks were reacting to xtn's post.

I've read his posts for years, and I can't recall johnmoni/inconclusivefool ever going to the extreme potential triggers that xtn did.

I'm not anti-positive thinking at all. Fancied up and licensed, it's pretty close to the re-framing technique and a few other therapeutic interventions. It's not a bad thing, it's just not a cure-all, and sometimes it's just not doable right then.


cm
PS: Kudos to the OP for wading back into the fray with dignity,grace, and reason

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Author: xtn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303765 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 10:32 AM
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And you manage to sound like a pompous a**. So if someone has mental health issues they just need to will themselves better? It's something they can snap out of any time they want to?

I know I'm an a**. But which bit was pompous? Do you disagree with something I said? Or do you just think it's inappropriate that I said it?

Look, I don't know if I'm right or if it will help. It's possible I'm right, and it's possible it might help. So I put it out there as something to consider. There are a few people on this website that have listened to me and have improved their lives because of it.

I don't know that willing one's self to get better will work. I don't know if people can snap out of anything. In fact the method I'm suggesting isn't about will power and it isn't about snapping out of anything. It's about retraining one's brain with repetition, over time, so that one does not need willpower in the future. It can work. Will it work for everyone? Certainly not. But it can work.

I'm not aware of how any mental health issue would prevent it working, unless it's severe enough to prevent the usage of the methodology in the first place. The OP seems to be coherent, intelligent, and possess good insight into his/her self and situation, so I don't see such a severity being the case.

xtn

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303766 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 10:46 AM
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so I don't see such a severity being the case.
Ay-yi-yi...just quit while you are ahead on the topic. You are digging yourself in deeper with every post.

Nothing to see here, move on...

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Author: xtn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303767 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 11:00 AM
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You're crossing the line here into mental health treatment with the advice you're giving. You're giving very specific behavioral suggestions to someone you don't know. I doubt you'll agree, as I'm sure to you it's just a pep talk, but you're practicing mental health therapy without a license or sense of ethics,and it's wrong.

Fair enough mostly. I wasn't intending to give mental health advice, just financial habit advice. I see now that the points you have made are very valid. You're right I hadn't considered any of the stuff you mention. I'll stop.

But to say I did it without a sense of ethics is incorrect. I was trying to be helpful. I'm curious if you think I should avoid posting like I did at all, or only for those diagnosed with mental difficulties? My methods have worked well for a few people on these boards.

xtn

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Author: xtn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303768 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 11:06 AM
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Depression isn't cured by sneers of contempt like the one xtn posted.

Whoa there! My post was certainly NOT a sneer of contempt. And it wasn't an attempt at curing lcd's depression at all. It was an attempt at changing detrimental financial habits and that's all.

I now understand why it may have been inappropriate in this case, and I'm sorry I posted it for that reason. But the things you are attributing to me are false. I was trying to help her deal with her financial problems. I did not dump on her.

If you want to say I was wrong to suggest my methods in this case, you may be right. But twisting my intent around to make your point is horrible.

xtn

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Author: xtn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303769 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 11:09 AM
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...all they do is make a bad situation worse, because it reveals the kind of contempt you have for people who are struggling with a disease you don't understand.

No. Contempt is something you've incorrectly inferred. Maybe it reveals that I didn't understand a technical situation that could mean my suggestions would do more harm than good, but it certainly does NOT reveal contempt.

xtn

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Author: xtn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303770 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 11:19 AM
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You do not know the heavily damaging potential of this type of advice and lack of awareness of some mental illnesses, particularly my issues and background. Please don't recommend this to a mentally ill person. I would plead to anyone who is dealing with a mentally ill person to not use such a strategy to have them "help" themselves.

In general, I infer from your reply that you may feel that mental illness is something that any mentally ill person can just will themselves to fix, in particular by ignoring the reality and by pretending that things are fine. I assure you that I have spent almost my entire life using this strategy. I have been surrounded by people with this time of mindset. It didn't help, it only allowed my mental issues to get become worsen, rot, and fester. There are times when we all need to recognize that we cannot handle some problems or matters by ourselves. Mental illness is one.


lcd -

You're right. Thank-you for not insulting me. I did fail to consider your illness. But I do know you can't just will yourself out of it. My advice was purely aimed at helping you overcome wasteful spending habits, and was not intended to send the message that you could just will yourself out of depression. My failure was not realizing that they may be intertwined.

Unlike some posters have said, I do NOT have some contempt for you, and my post was NOT a sneer. It may have been out of place here, but I hope that's the worst you think of it, and of me.

xtn

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Author: lcd186 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303771 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 11:22 AM
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Greetings to everyone and xtn in particular,

When it comes to matters of mental illness, things can get very emotional and personal.

To everyone else, I think xtn has - as of his reading of responses here - realizing that he missed important details and issues. I think he is being quite gracious to admit it and trying to understand what is going on with me, and others with mental illnesses. I believe he actually missed the details about me being mentally ill and disabled.

To xtn, I actually appreciated your original comments directed at me even if I feel that you may not have fully understood my situation (including that I am a woman, not a man, LOL). If it helps, I have read some of your previous responses to others in the past and I believe you truly intended to be helpful and thoughtful. Had I been a regular 'normal' person without significant mental illness (and I think significant mental illness is implied just by being declared 'disabled' enough to be eligible for federal benefits), I would understand and agree that much of your advice to help people change their outlook and way of thinking is valid. But unfortunately I am not normal enough for much of that to work for me. Also you are clearly just catching up with all the responses and outcry to your otherwise well-intended (how does that expression go, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" I think?) advice.

And though I use the term "positive thinking" (I believe a couple of other posters had used the term, I don't know for sure now), it probably isn't the right phrase. I agree as well that it is important for my long-term treatment to work on my cognitive and thinking patterns. Everything takes work and time.

And in general, thank you to everyone for reading my too-long and muddled original post. I am a serious work-in-progress from where I was one year ago, two years ago, five years ago.

Thank you all!

Lois Carmen D.

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Author: lcd186 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303772 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 11:37 AM
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lcd -

You're right. Thank-you for not insulting me. I did fail to consider your illness. But I do know you can't just will yourself out of it. My advice was purely aimed at helping you overcome wasteful spending habits, and was not intended to send the message that you could just will yourself out of depression. My failure was not realizing that they may be intertwined.

Unlike some posters have said, I do NOT have some contempt for you, and my post was NOT a sneer. It may have been out of place here, but I hope that's the worst you think of it, and of me.

xtn


I am such a slow writer, you had responded to me here before I finished my own. Please read my response, I hope it explains my perspective.

No, I did not read any form of contempt, or sneering. But I do understand if some of the posters might have perceived it. For myself, had I been as vulnerable as I have been in the past, I could have misunderstood your reply as such, but I'm at a much more stable point (if not yet truly stable enough) in which I understand you had no such intention. I have met a lot of well-meaning people who don't understand all the issues with the mentally ill. And I should point out that "we" mentally ill are extremely diverse and have different issues. It is impossible to say what is absolutely beneficial or absolutely harmful, but I would say that it is usually a good idea to be patient and being open to learning about issues that affect different individuals with different mental illnesses.

I'm not aware of how any mental health issue would prevent it working, unless it's severe enough to prevent the usage of the methodology in the first place. The OP seems to be coherent, intelligent, and possess good insight into his/her self and situation, so I don't see such a severity being the case.

Thank you for the kind characterization of me. Believe me when I say there have been times when I haven't been coherent, intelligent, and possess good insight; therapeutic treatment has been critical for returning to the state. I can't explain how any mental health issue would impact the ability to follow the advice you've given, but I can say at least that mentally illness is incredibly complicated and (at least in my case and many others with severe illness) can have a severe impact on what seems to be basic and fundamental mental and emotional functioning.

I am spending way too much time on the thread, but I also do appreciate the opportunity to discuss the issues.

Thank you for the opportunity and the understanding.

Lois Carmen D.

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Author: cabinsmama Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303773 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 12:00 PM
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There's a very specific set of ethics surrounding mental health treatment. Those were the ethics that were lacking. Whether you had your own personal set of ethics in mind is not for me to say.

I can't think of any situation that it would be a good idea to tell someone to direct that much anger and fear towards themselves unless you know for certain, from personal interaction, that it's unlikely to do harm, or they've agreed to it in advance, like saying they want a boot camp, tough love, butt-kicking motivating experience.

Even then, I personally wouldn't do it, but it apparently has worked for some people.


Let's say I don't have enough outlets in my living room. What worked for me was running drop cords from other rooms and using five extension cords plugged together. That's one message.

I personally know people who solved their electricity problem by running a drop cord from their neighbor's house. Not advocating it, but this works for some people. That's another message.

I tell someone also short on outlets they should do this, they need to do this, and they're an excuse-making spendthrift if they don't. They shouldn't listen to the licensed electrician who says that's a bad idea, and electricity really isn't as much of a big deal as people say it is. And since I don't know them, I don't know that they've got a couple of toddlers running around.

That's a dangerous message, and I would hope others who know about electricity would call me out on it as strong as they knew how.

cm
disclaimer: knows nothing about electricity and doesn't support any of the above

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303774 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 12:03 PM
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I am a serious work-in-progress from where I was one year ago, two years ago, five years ago.

Aren?t we all, though! Even without additional challenges, finance can be hard for some of us. I know myself I am not naturally frugal and I have to work at or I?ll blow half my salary at Target on crap. Learning little tricks can help enormously (like putting a bit aside in specific savings accounts) and that?s what this board is great at. Little tricks, support and sometimes tough love. Some of the advice will work for you and some of it won?t but I think most people are ultimately just trying to help.

I find it interesting to remember that the part of your brain that knows how to do something is not the same part that will actually be able to take those actions. Knowing and doing are different animals. So I personally like any tricks that help you build good habits over time and anything you can automate!

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Author: FiddleDeeDee Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303778 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 2:17 PM
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My kindle makes it hard, though, becuase it lets me buy things immediately.


DH received a Kindle last year from Santa, and he downloads books from the library all the time. He loves it! And there is no taking the book back to the library. It just disappears after two weeks.


Andrea

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303779 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 3:16 PM
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DH received a Kindle last year from Santa, and he downloads books from the library all the time.

I heard that is an option now but I haven't checked it out to see how to do it yet. It's on my list of things to figure out!

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303780 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 3:17 PM
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I think he is being quite gracious to admit it and trying to understand what is going on with me
I agree. Sometimes we let our fingers get away with us on the internet and "tone" can be misunderstood and we can state things harsher than we mean to do.

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Author: kahunacfa Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303781 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 4:18 PM
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First step: Obtain a savings deposit securred major credit card, American Express(R), Discover(R), MastercardR), or Visa(R).

Use the card a little, pay the balance in full each month - always.

Kahuna, CFA
Venture Capital
Portfolio Manager

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Author: xtn Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303783 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 5:10 PM
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cabinsmama -

I appreciate your electrician analogy. It does lend clarity to your reasoning. But it leaves me wondering, a bit sarcastically, if we shouldn't be giving advice to anyone in any way, shape or form unless we are licensed, payed professionals on the topic at hand. Well that's a bit extreme. And besides, I've known licensed, payed professionals that gave dumb advice some times.

So there must be a gray area in between no advice and harmful advice where some kind of advice is okay. But even so, all of our advice (especially to strangers on the internet) is just shots fired in the dark. We can't know what bit of advice might help, or who's advice is going to turn out most effective for a particular person.

xtn

PS - You are the only one who called me out with intelligent information instead of just wrongly insulting me. Thanks for that.

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303784 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 5:39 PM
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Special thanks to all the posters here who spoke up and addressed the potentially harmful, or erroneous issues regarding mental illness matters and related.

You're very welcome. The "cheer up and everything will be fine" attitude that so many people cling to has always seemed to be a denial of just how bad things are. Having people who think (or claim) they're being helpful just by giving a pat on the shoulder and assuming that everything will be fine is a hot button issue for me. When I was at my very, very worst (seeing a therapist on and on meds) someone gave me one of those "you'll be better just as soon as you have something to do" spiels, and an hour later people were taking sharp objects away from me.

When that particular person was approached later, and told how hurt I was, she couldn't understand why everyone was so upset. After all, she was trying to cheer me up.

Nancy

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Author: sugarski Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303786 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 6:44 PM
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I just want to wish you all the best with your fresh start. I admire you for persevering under some very challenging circumstances, and for recognizing that you needed to ask for help. I know from my own experience it is not easy living in NYC on a modest income. (And I know that its access to medical and social services, cheap/free entertainment, and walkability can still make it a good place to live.) I will be rooting for you!

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Author: cabinsmama Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303787 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 7:02 PM
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I'm all for giving advice--I've handed out some today. And it is a gray area. I know I've handed out my share of bad advice, usually when I'm talking about things I know just a little bit about.

Off the top of my head, I'd say that advising someone to direct strong negative emotions towards themselves in specific ways is risky (and I'd consider that across the board, since not everyone lays it out that they are a person dealing with mental illness.)

And it's because you're right...that kind of repetitious self-talk is very powerful & effective. If it's not used right, it can go south pretty quick.

Advising someone to do something a reasonable person would consider dangerous if it went bad, IMO, is risky. Like advising someone to cut corners on a load-bearing wall vs. cutting corners on a bookshelf.

Now, calling someone on their bull, pointing out that they're being dishonest, or they're doing the same things that got them in trouble, or they're just wrong-headed, etc...that's pretty common around here, and it can be pretty effective. And it feels less risky to me.

I'm not sure if that answers your question, but that's all I've got right now.

cm

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Author: stellla Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303788 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 11/30/2011 9:43 PM
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The closest, neighborhood libraries don't have very good selections unfortunately (massively reduced inventory of good stuff), but the larger, central branches have good ones. I have to make the effort to go to those.

Does your library offer "holds" or intralibrary loans? In my city you can put any item in the library system on hold, they transfer it to the branch I select, I get an email when the book/dvd/whatever is at the branch I want to go to, an I go pick it up.

The other convenient thing about it is that the books on hold are in a separate area by the front under my name, so I can get in and out quickly. Though obviously sometimes I'd much rather spend time just roaming the library!

Something to see if your library offers.

Random tip: I read that for some people who have trouble remembering what they need to do next (me! me! me!) that instead of a numbered list, use colors.

This isn't exactly what they had in mind, but my own twist: Say that I make my bathroom the color green. I can either remind myself it's a green day, or put something green that I see when I come home. Then I know that I need to work in the bathroom, cause it's green. I don't have to remember if I'm supposed to wash the towels or scrub the tub, I'm pretty happy if I do any cleaning in there :-)

Logically I can't explain it, but somehow colors resonate with me instead of trying to figure out what's 1, what's 2a vs. 2b and what's 137.

Uhmm, it's just a silly game I play on myself, but I also give tasks I don't like the colors I DO like. Colors I don't like (blech, pink) go with tasks I enjoy.

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Author: MegHammond Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 303791 of 308230
Subject: Re: Fresh start: help budget & life goals Date: 12/1/2011 11:13 AM
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somehow colors resonate with me instead of trying to figure out what's 1, what's 2a vs. 2b and what's 137.

What a neat idea!

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