Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rebound effect

There's this phenomenon in psychology about when you medicate an illness, then stop the medication, the symptoms come back stronger than before. So if you have a person with depression and give them an awesome anti-depressant, they'll feel better. But if they stop the meds, they may end up more depressed than ever. Not the greatest analogy to what I'm writing about, but I think I have about six posts titled "The Crazy." And I think it sort of applies. Even C mentioned the other day that I've been "a lot calmer" lately, especially since we've been experimenting with the envelope system. I think he means that I'm not as much of a psychotic nut job/bad accountant and that I'm capable of having a conversation that does not include some reference to our bank account.

BUT, the last two days I've woken up running numbers through my head. This used to be the norm, but since I've started to put more work into "The Crazy," it hasn't happened for awhile. Not too concerning, two steps forward and all that nonsense. The budget didn't balance like I wanted it to this month. C's been gone for a couple of days, so I've been on single-parent duty. I haven't gone running in a few days and I've missed it more than I expected to. I've kept the kids up WAY too late watching movies, so everyone's been a bit amped. In short, when life gets a bit off-balance, The Crazy sneaks in.

Interestingly, The Crazy usually manifests itself in anxiety, but this morning I woke up angry. I think it's growth. I think it means that I've moved from burying my head in the sand to being frustrated that we're not making progress as fast as I'd like (that is to say, immediately). But I'm angry. I'm angry at myself, because I know that there were some really stupid decisions that contributed to our debt (like bailing an idiot out of jail stupid.) I'm angry that it took me this long to really "get" the importance of credit. I'm angry that I didn't have the confidence and foresight to shop around for a school that would have cost less. I'm angry at Suze Orman, who on a late-night show advised that you use your credit cards to get you through the early years (and that I interpreted as "live off credit, you'll pay it off someday!" though I'm pretty sure she meant "buy a suit and get a bus pass".) I'm angry at all the times we had a little extra and spent it, rather than sending it to a card. And I'm angry that we're not making the progress that I'd like to be (though I know that we're doing a lot better.) That morphs into unrealistic anger, like "Why are we living in a house when we could be in a yurt and putting the difference towards our debt?!" and "Why are we buying brand name bread?!"

So anyway. Yeah. I know that I'm being neurotic and logically I know that I'm being unreasonable. I know that we're at least finally doing something, and we are making progress (slowly). I try to assure myself that we're still young and that there will be an end to this, but Gah! It just makes me so mad. On the plus side, it's also keeping me motivated. I don't ever want to feel like we're stuck again. I want to pay this stuff off, and have the extra resources to save, or spend, or whatever. I want to teach my kids how all this money stuff works. It's also nice to know that I've got this little internal red flag. There have been times when this has gotten so bad that I probably should have sought medication, but now I just know that I need to take better care of myself. And when Mama's happy, everybody's happy.

What's your red flag? How do you know it's time to re-calibrate?


  1. Word.
    Know the anger-just started going through it too.
    Finally get the delayed gratification thing.
    All I want is to be financially solvable, the end.

  2. I know your angst. If I can't be an inspiration, at least I am a bad example. Hang in there.

  3. You've got this... the place that you are at now is where I've seen people make the greatest changes and strides! The best part is that once you get it going it gets easier and moves even faster! Good luck!

  4. Have you been hiding in my kitchen cupboards while I've been Crazy at Big V? I'm convinced our family could move into this little one-bedroom that only costs $238/month. "But it has a REALLY BIG YARD!" And it would only be for a year. Or two. That way we could pay absolutely EVERYTHING off... and, think about it -- we could SAVE so much! *sigh*

  5. I also feel your pain. I can relate to the anger/frustration with myself for not having shopped around for a different program. Although I feel I got a great education I will be paying the price for decades... unless I stay at a 501c3, in which case, "only" a decade. Good job making progress, it sounds like you're really thinking about where your money is going instead of living in denial!!