The following is the introduction to The GOOD Book: Get Out of Debt by Pam Young.
I’m Pam Young one of the original SHEs which stands for Sidetracked Home Executives. I wrote The GOOD Book with one of FlyLady’s fabulous tools in mind for you to use in conjunction with the Get Out Of Debt Tools I came up with. Flylady created the FACE (FACE stands for Financial Awareness Continually Empowers) Control Journal which is complete with 9 Missions, 11 Commandments for Shopping, a magnificent essay by FlyLady entitled Money Mindsets Transcend Generations, two wonderful essays by Kelly, You are Not a Victim and Don’t Think Poor, Think Smart, a fabulous outline for your budget, a section for planning your menus and several great essays by Leanne Ely, Perpetual Pantry and Grocery Shopping 101. Be sure to go to Flylady’s website www.flylady.net and download the FACE Control Journal. It’s free.
On June 16th, 2008, I celebrated my 31st year as a reformed slob. Incidentally slob stands for Spontaneous, Lighthearted, Optimistic and Beloved. Back in 1977 (before I reformed) I was a stay-at-home mom with three kids and I loved being a homemaker… in theory. In reality I was a young mother, who lived in a pigpen and often used my bed as a comfy recluse from the mess. In those guilt-filled days, I couldn’t get the dog to mind let alone my three kids, but I finally found a way to get organized and crawled out of the mess alive and actually able to write about it. What I wrote has helped millions of people who were in a mess just like I was.
My mother was a BOP (born organized person). I was three weeks late. Mom made her bed first thing every morning before she went to the bathroom -- said it started her day off with a momentum she kept up all day. She called me her little “piddle dinker” and said it with such affection that I never knew I had a domestic problem until I got married and she didn’t come with me.
I fully intended to get checked for ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) but I forgot my appointment and got a pedicure instead. I really, didn’t need a diagnosis. One time I ended up in the garage with an athletic supporter in one hand and a borrowed copy of Manifest Your Destiny in the other. Of course I never did figure out why I was out there. I can’t count the times I’ve ventured to the mailbox with every intention of getting the mail, and ended up at The Craft Shack or The Permanent Solution (my hair dresser’s shop). On one trip to the mailbox, I noticed the cable guy drilling a hole in the neighbor’s yard and ended up at the mall, getting my ears pierced. (The holes have since grown back in.)
In my scattered past I learned a few tricks for avoiding my proclivity for getting sidetracked such as a tip I learned from a goat. I observed him tethered to a post on a near-by farm. He had about six feet of rope and had munched a lovely putting green circle out of a thick, weed-ridden patch.
I decided to try this trick at home. I tethered myself by the ankle to the pedestal of the kitchen table giving myself access to about five feet of chaos in every direction. My quest was to clean up the space without being distracted by the messes in other parts of the house. I was armed with Pledge and a dust rag, a garbage bag and a basket for stuff to put away.
The tether worked—until the phone rang (a distraction I can’t ignore). The ring made me forget I was ankle-bound and I sprinted to the phone to pick it up before the answering machine kicked in. The force of my forward motion, coupled with the non-giving jump ropes I'd lashed together, sent my free foot backwards in one Michael Jackson moonwalk step, before I belly flopped several feet from the phone. The machine clicked on, as I laid there and listened to my mother say, "Hi Sweetie, I'm on my way over, shall I bring lunch?"
Until I figured out how to get organized I often did the goat deal, only tying myself up with yarn instead of rope. Luckily I got organized and didn’t need the tether ever again! This was all before the movie “Dances with Wolves” came out, but had I been given a special name, I think I could have been called “Eats Over the Sink” or “Vacuums With No Bag.”
Every day every prayer I said was laced with shame and self- loathing and promises to do better, until that day in June when I hit bottom. I said one more prayer about my disorganization. It went something like this: “Lord I’m fed up with my old ways and I’m ready to break free to newness. You know how I’ve struggled and especially today. It’s not just about my move from Fresno and the 157 Bekins' moving boxes all marked “miscellaneous.” Disorganization affects every area of my life to include you God. Only You know why I talked my spiritual studies group into meeting out on my front porch and only You know why I unscrewed the light in the refrigerator so Mom couldn’t see detail in there while she helped in the kitchen with supper clean up. Only You know the real balance in my checkbook, because I sure don’t. I don’t want to live this way anymore. Please show me the way. Tell me what to do and I promise I’ll mind.”
This time my prayer was answered. I had already read every book I could find on organizing my life. Suddenly I realized that everything I’d read had been written by authors who were born organized like Mom. If I were going to get help it was going to have to come from someone who knew what it felt like to be overwhelmed by a mess like I was. There was no such book. With the help of my sister who was as disorganized as I was, we came up with a program that changed our lives and helped us get organized one week at a time. We met in the same restaurant each Thursday and figured out a plan that would work for us; two easily sidetracked people.
I was guided by the simplest promptings. Get up before the family, shower, fix my hair, put on make-up and wear shoes that tie. By following that guidance I started feeling in control. I began my day in the morning instead of the afternoon. I started losing weight. I followed my inspiration and the rewards were unbelievable. In six weeks, I was in control of my life and my household. My sister and I began to teach our basic methods in workshops and finally we wrote a best-selling book about our transformation, Sidetracked Home Executives; from Pigpen to Paradise. It’s still in print today and if you haven’t read it, you should. Sales have been impressive over the years, and I know why: disorganized readers buy it, lose it and have to go buy it again. With the successful sales of that book I took a wild ride on a prosperous roller coaster but all too quickly I had to come home from the fair. In spite of all my earnings, I was broke. It was testimony to the fact that more money is not the solution to financial problems. If you don’t know how to take care of a small income, a bigger one will just create bigger problems.
On July 4, 2002 I was in deep credit card debt and in desperation I came face to face with the real culprit behind my troubled finances and who was behind my disorganization back in the 70s; ME. In Chapter One I’ll tell you all the juicy details of that meeting. St. Paul wrote about the very same part of him in Romans verses 15 through 20: He said: “For I do not know what I do; and I do not do the thing which I want, but I do the thing which I hate. That is exactly what I do. Now then it’s not I who do it, but sin which dominates me. Yet I know that it does not fully dominate me; but as far as good is concerned, the choice is easy for me to make, but to do it is difficult for me. For it is not the good that I wish to do, that I do; but it is the evil that I do not wish to do, that I do. Paul named it sin, but I named that part of me Nelly after Nelly Olson, on Little House on the Prairie a television series that aired in the seventies. Before I met Nelly that night, she was pretty much free to act in the moment without caring about the consequences.
Always optimistic, she talked me into over-extending in body and pocketbook. As the years passed, the effects added up. Forty pounds of stored fat on my body and $27,000 in credit card debt later, I was facing the embarrassing results of Nelly’s spontaneity, optimism and upper hand. Things had to change! This book will help you meet that lovable little rascal of yours, and you’ll be on the road to success in every area of your life, not just the financial part of it.
I’m probably not going to teach you anything you don’t already know or haven’t already read in another get-out-of-debt book. (I had shelves filled with financial books about money. All they did was COST me money.) I realized that any self- help book is just entertainment if the reader doesn’t have a handle on that inner child that is displaying less than adult behavior. Now that I’ve let Nelly out of the bag, yours is out too and you might feel a little like a guy who gets a call like this:
Ring, ring, ring.
“Carl?” (That’s your pretend name.)
“This is Angelina.”
“Yeah, Angelina Olay, remember?”
“Angelina? Angelina Olay? Oh yeah!”
“Yeah, Lake Tahoe, ten years ago today.”
“Really? It’s been that long?”
“Yep and guess what?”
“You’ve got a kid. She’s nine years old, she’s out of control and I’m done! I’ve raised her so far and now it’s your turn!”
That’s it. You are like poor Carl. You’ve just been hit with a fact you are now going to have to deal with. Carl might want to have blood work done on his nine year old, but if you are brave enough to admit you have an active inner child and if you want to make some positive changes in your life, you and your new found child have work to do. I know this from experience with Nelly for almost six years. I know she affects every area of my life: finances, exercise, relationships, diet and my level of organization. In this audio book you will learn how to get out of debt by playing with your inner child.
At every turn he or she will have a negative take on your progress. It’s the “Are we there yet mentality.” But as you begin to observe (with loving eyes) your behavior patterns when it comes to spending you’ll start recognizing whether or not they are in sync with your intentions. You’ll notice what habits emerge when your inner child is in charge. After all, she’s been with you forever and if she’s gone undetected, it’s my guess she’s not going to like change unless you can make it fun.
I think back on those early messy days with joy. I had to experience the mess in order to write about getting out of it. Now as I think back, I am again grateful that I went through my financial hardships in order to recover and share what I learned with you. It makes me so happy when I think about telling you how to get a mature hold on your money and how FUN it is to do. My motto is: Make it fun and it will get done! You’ll be amazed at how much fun it is to get out of debt! It’s my guess it’s the last thing in the world that sounds fun to you right now. Well my dear read on!