Denial: This is the stage where you spend money like it’s growing on trees. You have no regard for the consequences and pay only the minimums on your credit card balances. Usually, this stage occurs before you’re actually earning a decent income, but your spending keeps pace with the CEO of your company regardless. This stage may involve hiding your spending from a spouse. (Note: if you find yourself saying, “It’s only $100.”, or something similar, you may be in the denial stage)
Depression: This stage usually occurs when you’ve been borrowing from Peter to pay Paul for a while and you hit the point where that well runs dry. Even if you’ve been managing to juggle your debts, the day comes when you have no more wiggle room. There may be a few tears as your friends head out to that concert and you’re left at home, hoping they won’t turn off the hydro. This stage may involve trying to mooch off of others.
Acceptance: This is the happy day when you decide enough is enough. You realize that you CAN live within your means. Heck, you can even live below your means and save some money up! You WILL have those adorable shoes and you WILL be sipping mojitos on the beach...in due course. Life is good!!
Budgeting: This stage is driven by your new-found determination to be awesome. You fearlessly list your income and your expenses and make sure that there’s more coming in than going out. You bravely turn away from the mall and put that money towards your debt instead. Your mantra: Just keep swimming!
Saving: This stage is the reward for all the sacrifices you made in the budgeting stage. You happily squirrel away all that “extra” money and enjoy the feeling of pride that comes from seeing those dollars accumulate.
Growth: You’ve almost made it! At this stage you’ve become an investing machine. You confidently grow where no deny-er has grown before. You laugh in the face of debt. Emergency repairs cower before you. You’re unstoppable!
Stress-free living: YESssssss!!! Finally! All that hard work paid off. Combining your new money habits with a little discipline, you can now breathe easy, knowing that debt is a distant memory. You can now look forward to your future without any financial stress. Congratulations! And enjoy those shoes...they look so cute on you!