Hmmm. I was hoping that your level of debt wasn't influenced by A2K "factors". I had my suspicions & was going to ask, but thought you might not exactly welcome such an inquiry.
I recall years ago, in the early days of A2K, that you couldn't afford to fix your car because of A2K running costs.
A2k costs have had their times contributing negatively to my bottom line, but I don't blame it at all for the financial situation I got myself in because the real problem was the fact that I was willing to spend more than I earned. That one factor is all that matters, if you spend less than your income you do fine. And it certainly wasn't all going to support a2k.
Hell, I had a perfectly good car but bought a new one on a whim, I was bored and said that if they could do the paperwork in 30 minutes I'd sign. I didn't bother to negotiate and was just plain stupid with money. Now I fix the pieces falling off my beater with some chewing gum and smile at how I'm not pissing away money on a fancy ride.
None of the costs are at fault, it was the idiot who didn't know money management to blame. When my income gets back up I'm gonna be sitting pretty! And if I didn't learn this lesson before my finances took such a beating I'd be in dire straits right now.
I'd say yours was an extremely
swift & steep learning curve, myself! Feel free to rave on about it to your heart's content!
Ok, then let me pitch a book. I read it long after I learned the lesson myself, but it struck me as something that would have gotten me thinking about it much earlier if I'd seen it back when I needed it the most because of how well it explained everything.
It's called The Richest Man in Babylon
by George S. Clason, it's a short book (less than 150 pages, I read it in a single sitting while waiting for a plane) in parable form, so it's very easy to read. It hammers home the basic principles of money management pretty well, I recommend it for anyone who hasn't learned basic money management (and even to folks who have, just to reinforce the concepts). Especially any kids and teenagers you might know that don't yet get it.
The concepts are simple, but explained forcefully. For example, it says that some of your income should be yours to keep. And by keep it says not spending it on things you want, that makes your income belong to the merchant you spend it with. It should be yours
, and work for you
. It was a nice way to argue for thrift, because so many people see spending money as doing something nice for themselves, when in reality they are only doing something nice for the merchant most of the time and setting themselves back (especially if they buy it too early, instead of just waiting till their next paycheck to do it without credit).
I used to poo poo thrift, and never wanted to be miserly with anyone, least of all myself. I like being generous, and still am generous, but it wasn't generosity, it was just stupidity. Now I get the relationship of time and money so much better. In the past I only thought of the money, and not the time. I now get that just by manipulating my spends according to time I can have much more money that is mine to keep.
Another thing I want to pitch is personal finance software. I started using it back in the day when I still didn't know how to use money, and it changed my habits way back then. It gave me insight I didn't know about my finances. Even if I didn't use it wisely enough it gave me tracking and projection at a level of detail and control that I just didn't have when not bothering to have budgets and run reports.
I used Microsoft Money back then, and use Pocket Money on my phone now, but there are other good options like mint.com or Quicken online which are both free. Using financial software can really help you understand where your money is going and get better about improving it.
And now I will get off my soapbox.....