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  • Thoughts about embarrassing money moments and personal debt management.

    Thoughts about embarrassing money moments and personal debt management.

    Laurie Campbell

    Only the rarest of birds can detach from money emotionally, and remain unmoved by it under all circumstances, including decidedly embarrassing moments. Certain artists, poets, drunks, anarchists, and lunatics are among the rare species. They can amaze others with their disregard for money or managing debt, not to mention their ability to survive day to day through what appears to be supernatural grace. Among the emotionally detached are those who even proudly flaunt their disdain for currency and free-market capitalism, believing that humankind got it all wrong in the first place creating the monetary system we now share (notably to date, though, the only alternatives they’ve offered for the system consist of failed experiments in the free sharing of tie-dyed t-shirts and communal teepees; and, oh yes, there was that other failed business involving a couple of guys named Marx and Lenin). Then there are certain inheritors of great wealth – scions of illustrious estates – who could care less about money because so much of it has fallen into their entitled laps by sole virtue of familial ties. Not to disparage inherited wealth, mind you. I’m just saying that in some cases the inheritors are spoiled brats and money or even debt management aren't an issue. I suppose I also ought to lump certain superstar celebrities with the above groups. The superstars, so I read, are emotionless about money because they never carry it with them and they never see putting it to work. They expect handlers and others to cover all tabs at all times, and the wads of cash they make go directly to accountants and investment advisors, all of which creates a cold chasm between the superstar and his or her earnings. For all these folks, money holds little threat of embarrassment. For the rest of us, though, it’s another story. For us, money does not simply serve as a practical necessity, it serves as a barometer for how seriously we take life’s responsibilities, particularly if others are beholden to us for such things as food, shelter, clothing, and what have you. Necessarily, these matters have a great bearing on one’s emotional state. Simply put, we feel for the way we handle money. So it’s fair to say that our treatment of money serves as an essential measure of our emotional character, including our propensity for embarrassment. Now, I would venture to say that on the scale of things in life that hold the greatest potential for embarrassment, money ranks only behind sex, incontinence, and messy, lightning-fast sneezes in busy public spaces. Which brings me to a new survey I chanced upon recently concerning embarrassing money moments, as reported by Michele Lerner at Daily Here I discovered an interesting analysis of cringe-worthy moments involving money. In terms of the top embarrassing moments, survey respondents said they were most distressed by situations where credit cards were, for whatever reason, declined. This is understandable. My heart goes out to, say, the young man at an expensive restaurant courting a woman he adores. Or the account executive who, with an offer for an evening of dinner and drinks, hopes to sign up the important business prospect being treated. As determined by the survey, other squirmy money moments that could be avoided with proper debt management include: • Feeling pressured to donate to a charity on behalf of a co-worker, family member, or friend. • Saying no to giving money to a panhandler or beggar. • Feeling pressured to chip in on a group gift at work, like for a baby shower or wedding shower. • Sharing salary/wage amounts with co-workers. • Splitting a dinner bill or check with a large group of people. • Determining a gift to get a partner for special occasions, like a first anniversary or a first birthday together. • Treating someone to a meal and they order the most expensive item on the menu. All this reminds me of a story I heard some time ago. It has to do with a woman who was to be treated by a friend to an expensive dinner out. Once the food and a wonderful vintage were consumed, and the bill was presented, the woman’s friend presented her credit card, but it was declined. The woman’s friend was mortified, but the woman calmed her saying she would happily cover the tab with her card. But that card, too, was declined. At that, the two women simply burst into laughter, and offered, between guffaws, to settle matters with the restaurant by perhaps washing dishes. Presently, the woman’s friend got a hold of her husband by phone and he took care of matters. Had I been on the scene that evening, I would have encouraged both women to sign up for our Financial Coaching Series here at Credit Canada Debt Solutions. It’s a special, affordable program that can turn just about anybody into a wizard in terms of personal finance. It not only provides individuals with the skills to manage a personal budget, it explores the process behind how and why people spend, and establishes strategies for goal setting and savings. I can pretty much guarantee that anyone who goes through the program will never have to worry about washing dishes to cover a restaurant tab. So, there are a couple of lessons to be learned from all these emotional goings on. One, make sound personal money management a priority in life and you are likely to avoid embarrassing money moments. And two, where embarrassing money moments can’t be avoided, try to keep your sense of humour.

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