By Allison Tait
MSN NZ Money writer
Life would be boring without a drama now and then but are your finances become a soap opera (same old story, one-dimensional, addictive)? It's time to take the melodrama out of your money situation.
Do you recognise any of these symptoms:
- You regularly feel that there's a "hole" in your bank account
- You often fly off the handle at your 'bloody bank' about how they can't seem to hold onto your cash
- You feel your bank is cold and unfeeling they just won't stop sending those damn credit card statements
- Obviously your financial issues are someone else's fault the shop that overcharged you, the cheque that failed to clear, the manager who wouldn't extend your loan...
If you nodded yes to more than one of those statements, chances are you're a financial drama queen: prone to swooning at the size of your debts, ready to throw huge wobblies at the drop of a hat and never, ever willing to face up to the facts your money woes probably come down to nobody but you.
Okay, it's time to take a long hard look in the mirror.
1. The person draining your account probably knows your pin number (and it's more than likely you).
If you find your first thought on checking your bank statements is "omigod, someone's broken into my account", take a deep breath. Firstly, read your statement very carefully. Is the $500 missing simply because you've spent more than you thought? You'll probably find the "questionable" transactions all have legitimate foundations and you were behind the card each time. If, however, you're really worried maybe you've responded to an e-mail that, in hindsight, looks a bit dodgy, or you haven't been as careful with your pin number as you should have stop waving your arms around and contact your financial institution immediately.
2. The bin is not a good filing place for your statements.
Tossing your bills and statements in the bin with a dramatic sigh makes for good theatre and a bad financial record. If you're guilty of this diva move, it's time to get a new script. Don't bury your head in the sand about your cash situation — if you know how much you've actually got, you won't get a shock every month. And if you find that debt is taking the wind out of your sails, you can take steps to actually do something about it. Contact your financial institution to organise a manageable payment schedule.
3. Divas don't carry cash (and so have huge credit bills).
It may work for Madonna et al, but for mere mortals, cash is best. The more credit and store cards you have in your wallet, the more financial trouble you have in the making. Whilst throwing down a card with a languid 'charge it' may look cool, throwing yourself screaming on the couch when the bills arrive is not. The trick to not spending more than you earn is to put as little on your credit cards as possible or to pay them off in full each month.
4. Nobody likes a repeat performance.
The first time you cried poor and wept all over your friend's shoulder about those "dreadful bank people" who won't leave you alone, they probably bought you a couple of sympathy cocktails. But it won't take long for the act to become tired (and your friend to become broke). Take some responsibility for your finances, or you might find you have no audience left.
5. Aim for the top.
Life is short, it's true, but if you want it to be sweet, you need to get over the idea that living from week to week is over-the-top and exciting. At the end of the day, it's just exhausting. If you're running yourself ragged just trying to get on top of things, get some support. Talk to a financial counsellor, a trusted friend, a financial advisor anyone who can help you with a strategy that will take your money problems off centre stage. Once you've got those priorities straight, you'll be able to plough all that dramatic energy into far more important things. You can also get all sorts of free calculators here to sort out your financial dramas.