Can getting out of debt be enjoyable?Most financial planners have a pragmatic solution for those trying to get out of debt: pay off your high-interest credit cards, then start saving money.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
Most financial planners have a pragmatic solution for those trying to get out of debt: pay off your high-interest credit cards, then start saving money.
But longtime life coach and author Carol Keeffe’s solution is more emotional: put some money toward your credit cards, but also be setting money aside for things you want, like a vacation or grand piano.
“None of us want to be told how to live our lives, so as soon as a financial planner tells us to cut up our credit cards to get rid of that high interest rate, we dig in our heels,” Keeffe said. “If we’re feeling fulfilled, we have courage, we can move mountains, so my whole approach is based on putting the fun first.”
Keeffe, who will be delivering her message this week at District 833 Community Education’s Gentle Saturday, said saving money becomes much easier when you’re weighing each purchase against something you truly desire.
“You feel empowered,” Keeffe said. “Anticipation fills every moment.”
Keeffe arrived at her financial plan through her own life experience. She and her husband were both teachers. They typically spent all the money they made each month, and also charged purchases to credit cards. Then they had children. They went down to one income so Keeffe could stay home with the kids, and bought a house.
“We could no longer continue to spend the way we used to be spending,” she said.
Keeffe started out using a traditional approach to money management — putting all the money she could toward credit card bills. The problem was by the middle of the month, there wouldn’t be any money left, and so if the kids needed shoes or the refrigerator needed to be repaired, they’d have to put the cost back on the credit card, she said.
Instead, she began paying only the minimum payment on her credit cards, and saving money for emergencies. She also took an empty mayonnaise jar, wrote “Disneyland” on it and started saving all her change for a trip from her Seattle home to the theme park.
“I just started doing something. How do you get to the top of a mountain? ... Put one foot before the other,” she said.
She repeatedly emptied the jar and took its contents to the bank. Nine months from the day she started collecting, the family had enough saved to take their trip. They borrowed her parents’ station wagon and stayed with relatives while they were there.
Keeffe started sharing what she’d learned with others through community education classes and her book “How to Get What You Want in Life with the Money You Already Have.”
The title of Keeffe’s book stood out to Gretchen Carlson, adult enrichment and continuing education coordinator for Community Education when she saw it online, causing her to contact Keeffe. Carlson said she was “thrilled” that Keeffe would even consider coming from her San Diego home to teach in Minnesota.
Keeffe said she is picky about where she’ll travel, but her trip to Minnesota will also give her the chance to visit relatives.
After her financial class on Saturday, Keeffe will also teach a class titled “Tired of arguing, feeling misunderstood and no one listening?” The key, Keeffe said, is listening to others without judging and minding your own business.
It’s a lesson she learned when her children were 6 and 8 years old and “pretty much plugging their ears when they saw me.”
She said she never thought she’d be able to learn how to listen, because in her upbringing, she learned to be controlling.
Both workshops, Keeffe said, will leave attendees with an invitation to learn how to “live from the inside out” continually thinking about what it is they really want, whether that’s to act respectfully or take a vacation.
If you go
On Saturday, March 28, Carol Keeffe will teach “How to get what you want in life with the money you already have,” from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. and “Tired of arguing, feeling misunderstood and no one listening?” from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. To register for either class, or both classes go to www.cecool.com, use the most recent Community Education catalog or call (651) 458-6600.