The Emotional Cost of Bad Credit

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to save more money? Yeah. It ranks up there with

  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise more
  • Improve life

It’s hard, though, isn’t it?

You know what? You’re not alone. When I started sharing about my bad credit experiences, I was overwhelmed with supportive and encouraging comments. So many of you were or are in the same boat, and didn’t know it.

We think we’re alone and headed for a comedy of errors like Gilligan’s Island.

To Sea in a Storm by Yourself? It ain't so.

To Sea in a Storm by Yourself? It ain’t so.

But the truth is, while our individual situations are unique, we have the opportunity to throw life rafts to each other just with words of encouragement and “been there, done that” talk.

There’s a lot in life that can make us feel bad about ourselves. Keeping up with the Joneses is, in my opinion, one of the worst. Which Jones are we talking about? The one who’s a family friend or the one who lives on the other side of town, you know, the right side of the tracks?

When I have money troubles, everything else is amplified. I can’t buy medicine because I can’t afford the doctor visit in order to get the prescription. Or I feel guilty for munching at McDonald’s but in reality I was hungry and didn’t have time to get to the store on my lunch hour. The phone rings constantly, but it’s almost always “Call from Unavailable.”

It wears a person down, doesn’t it? And when you’re worn down, you can’t always see the solution, if there is one.

Cloud of Negativity

Cloud of Negativity

Recently, I made a self-discovery. I told myself, “I’m tired of worrying.” Sure, easier said than done, and yes I do still have those moments.

But I started smiling more and stressing less. I gave myself permission to not feel guilty over the occasional fast food. It was okay if I bought one song on iTunes for $1.29. But then I stop. Then I’ve reached my limit and treat myself to an emotional allowance rather than a financial one.

Spending time with friends, watching a favorite DVD or even just reading a good book is often all it takes to regenerate my broken spirit.

Money isn’t everything.

And then there was the realization of several truths.

  • You are not alone. I know, I’ve hit on this before. But it’s worth hammering again and again. I am not alone. You are not alone. Believe it or not, people will understand when you say, “I just can’t go out this weekend.” It’s okay to say no to some extras. It’s also okay to say yes.
  • Patience really is a virtue. Debt collectors are often willing to work around your payment schedule as long as you communicate with them. You can’t expect them to stop calling if you don’t explain your situation. For all they think, you’re a deadbeat. But you’re not. You hear me?

YOU ARE NOT A DEADBEAT.

  • There are so many things to be thankful for. I have a roof over my head. I have transportation. I’ve never gone a day without food. If you’re reading this, you have internet access. Whether it’s a public library, school, or at home, that’s a blessing.
  • Being frugal can allow for creativity. It can be simple home decor, clothing options, or cooking a meal. Saving pennies can mean celebrating the lean times. Sure, it’s corny like a country song, but trust me. It works. It’s what led me to write and publish The Unemployment Cookbook. That’s a sweet success in my book!

One of the first things you can do when the money situation gets you down, is tell yourself it’s okay. It’s okay to know it’s there, but it’s also okay to say “I won’t let my lack of money define me.” It’s okay to choose to breathe.

Have dialogue with yourself and your family. Ask the hard questions:

  • Is this necessary, or a just a social “requirement”?
  • Is there a cheaper alternative?
  • If not, what else can we do to afford this?

Then it’s time to be honest with the creditors:

  • Explain your situation and be honest about how you got there.
  • Ask for repayment options. If you can’t pay their “minimum” do they have an extended payment plan?
  • Can they give you a reduced pay-off balance?
  • If you absolutely can’t pay, be honest. Don’t commit to a payment you can’t make. And don’t get angry at them about it. Those calls you’re getting? They’re just doing their job.

Then stop. Take another breath. And tell yourself, “It’s going to be okay.” Even if you don’t know how. Trust that it will work out. You can be strict without being overbearing. You can be in a financial struggle and still enjoy your day-to-day life.

Choose Your Direction: Stress or Relax

Choose Your Direction: Stress or Relax

It’s okay to drink of cup of hot (or sweet) tea. It’s okay to buy clothes at the thrift store and make them your own. It’s okay to walk somewhere, or buy a $0.99 box of mac-n-cheese instead of a $7.00 combo meal.

You have a choice. Even when the money situation isn’t getting any better, you have the choice to not let it define you.

Remember, it’s just a situation. It’s not a lifestyle.

Embrace the happy and you’ll see how rich you truly are.

And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!

Social Media for the Anti-Social

Here’s a not-so-secret: I love social media. It’s where I connect with others, share my life, promote authors and their projects, and yes, play my fair amount of Candy Crush. I know. Gaming isn’t the same as social media. But when all you have to offer is candy life, it counts, okay?

But not everyone feels the same. I can’t quite get my head around what I’m about to say, but I hear tell there are actually people out there who dislike social media.

Can you imagine? People who would rather get a tooth pulled than post a status update, or swallow castor oil rather than share a photo. Yes, there are actually people like this out there. I’m not naming names, but I’ve met them.

Of course, by no means do I even pretend to fully understand them, but I try.

Then, of course, you have your people who want to wade into the water but aren’t sure how. Do they dive in? How deep? Which pool? Do they know how to swim, or at least stay afloat? Can they survive in the treacherous seas of social media?

Folks, I’m so glad you asked. That’s where I come in. For the better part of a year, I’ve been slowly developing a platform to assist others develop their social media presence, as well as managing media for other people.

How To Do Social Media for People Who Are Antisocial by Molly Jo Realy

How To Do Social Media for People Who Are Antisocial

It was going to be a blog post but I realized it’s so much bigger than that. I currently run a semi-monthly column for the newsletter of the California Writers Club, High Desert Branch. I offer one-on-one consultations to help local writers start their internet experience. And now it’s turning into a platform, presentation, and potential book!

Last week I was given a monthly contributing blogger spot on Edie Melson’s blog, The Write Conversation. [Check me out the third Monday of each month, starting in March.] As the social media diva herself, she’s one of my go-to girls whenever I have a social media question. We met last year at Blue Ridge and I was so thrilled to participate in her social media course.

Edie Melson, Social Media Steampunk, and Molly Jo Realy, Woman of Mystery, at BRMCWC

Edie Melson, Social Media Steampunk, and Molly Jo Realy, Woman of Mystery, at BRMCWC

She told me

“I hope you’ll stay in touch. We’re cut from the same cloth, and you’re going places.”

Now how could I not share that with my social media world?

And since when it rains it pours here in the desert, I was also given the opportunity to lead this week’s Firsts in Fiction podcast. The theme? You guessed it: Social Media. I’m typically the heckler of the group, the one who keeps the chat room chatting and throws “shut up!”s to Aaron and Al as we converse on the art of writing fiction.

Last week we had a few questions on how to develop social media so Aaron suggested I take the next episode and run with it. Right when I’d gotten used to thinking of myself as just another pretty face . . .

How do you do social media? Join Firsts in Fiction this Tuesday at 6:30 PST and let’s have some fun.

And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!