22 November 2012

Get Your Money Back

Some marketers will sell you something by making you believe you really need and want their product. While I admire their skill, I hate the sinking feeling when I walk away and realized I just spent way more than I wanted to on something I don’t truly need and didn't even want before they go hold of me.

Most of the time I’m good at deflecting their advances, but in times when I've given in and somehow signed up for something I no longer want, I've found ways to backtrack. It’s not always possible and the best answer would be not to let yourself be convinced that they are selling you the greater good.

Getting your money back can be tricky, but I’ll break it down for you. I also look at returns and I take a no-nonsense approach when it comes to taking back goods that aren't working properly. You can save quite a bit by simply doing these things:

Keep record

If you've signed up for something by debit order, keep a record of the marketer’s number. If it was a policy you signed up for, keep your policy number. If it’s something you bought, keep the slips and keep the tags on. Even if they are really difficult about refunds, most places are fine with exchanges if the goods are undamaged and you have your proof of payment.

You didn't know you need tubular ice creams until now
It’s a good idea to keep your proof of payment whenever you are buying something electronic or worth more than R100. I’m not shy to take something back when it didn't perform the way I wanted or something broke. I even returned my birthday present from my mom. The hairdryer looked fine encased in plastic with its nifty attachments, but after taking it out of the packaging one attachment came apart. I could also tell that the hairdryer itself was flimsy.

I took it back the next day and got a different model. I had to pay more, but it’s more important to have something that lasts if you’re going to use it every day.

Keeping record of all the beneficiaries of your monthly debit orders is smart. Sometimes small payments accumulate and you cannot just cancel them because you’re not even sure where they are going.

Go back in time

No, not time travel, although that would be useful. Remind yourself to get back to cancel a subscription before the first debit order is cleared, to see if you can get a refund on the expensive foundation within the time of the store’s exchange policy or to return goods you are unhappy with before the guarantee expires.
If you've booked holiday accommodation and you find it cheaper somewhere else you can usually cancel your booking if it is done in time. Find out what their policy is. Waiting too long can cost you in the form of losing your deposit and not booking when you think you've found the best deal can mean disappointment.

Be firm

I've also found that some places ask you a lot of questions when you try and cancel a subscription. One offered me a reduced monthly payment, but the initial sign-up was still very expensive. If you’re like me and find it hard to be firm with strangers, give it a try. It really works and I even felt good about my new-found assertiveness.

I hope you can get your money back next time something goes wrong with a purchase or you have changed your mind. If you’re out of ideas of how to save money and just want to make ends meet for a change, read my post on Applications for debt review and to consolidate your debt.

16 November 2012

Attract a debt free life

We’re approaching something a bit more philosophical in this post and people who believe in the laws of attraction will catch on to where I’m getting at. If this is all too airy fairy for you, read on. Maybe you feel like giving something new a try. The advice is free and harnessing your personal energy has helped many other people, so you might as well give it a shot!

The basis of the law of attraction is the belief that your mind can control your destiny beyond the obvious decisions we make. Scientists have seen the mind change the structure of atoms in water, so the notion that we have energy coming from us is more than just a hippy idea. If you've ever felt depressed, anxious or comforted in a stranger’s presence for no reason then you've experienced something of this energy.

If we can influence matter and each other, then why not try and influence yourself and your life? It’s just a matter of using your thoughts in a constructive way. There’s nothing new to do here, the trick is just to focus on thinking things that will nurture you and contribute to living the best possible life instead of longing for a life you cannot have. 

When you are wishing for something, you are saying you don’t have it and these thoughts attract more energy into your life that will match your energy where you don’t have what you want. If you can use your mind to visualize what you want and use your imagination to experience this in detail, the energy you are sending out is having what you want and soon enough you will have what you desire.

Let’s take debt as a practical example. Your goal is to live debt free. But is having a goal enough? You might be doing all the things you think you should be doing to gear yourself towards financial freedom, but things are still not working for you. Actions are still very important if you’re going to rely on attracting what you want, because when we act we are also using our energy towards something. So there must be something missing if you’re still falling short of living your dreams.

Erin Pavlina's view on harnessing your mind’s ability to attract the things you want also stresses the importance of your actions being in line with your desires. Check out her post How to Become a Vibrational Match for your Desire. She explains the relation between your desires, your actions and your mind perfectly in the section Jump on Opportunities.

An interesting facet of attracting what you want according to Pavlina is making sure you really want what you are dreaming of. It’s worth doing some self-evaluation to determine if there is a reason why you aren't changing your thoughts and actions to accommodate the direction you want your life to take.

Is there some kind of pay-off to being over indebted? Having things you cannot afford, avoiding other issues in your life by worrying about your finances, nurturing the belief that you will never be good with money and many more factors can be keeping you from saving or paying back your debt.

If you’re sure this is not the case, let yourself daydream about your life after debt. Feel how it feels to live a better life with abundant wealth. Experience it and use the power of your imagination to make yourself open to receiving new things by creating space for them in your mind. If you can really dream it without second-guessing or yearning for it, you can live that dream. 

Pavlina calls it getting your shopping cart ready for everything you are asking for from the universe. It’s good to want new things and act to get them, but if you’re not ready to receive them the universe will hold onto your goods until you are ready.

If you take just one thing from this, remember to keep dreaming and feeling yourself living the life you want. Let go of longing for what you cannot have and work on being a match for what you desire. According to the law of attraction, yearning only attracts more yearning and negativity more negativity. Use your imagination to be positive and active in attracting what you want.

Taking Stock of 2012

If you’re looking for your debt advice fix, I've got just the thing for you over at a post I did for Debt & Credit Restructuring this week, but I want to do a more personal post today.

For the last few months I've been blogging about getting out of debt and when I thought about what to write about today I realized you don’t know anything about me. I’m sure some readers could make some assumptions about my interests and my approach to life. I try to approach the debt free journey from all sides and I hope you could tell that I appreciate humans being multi-faceted. We all have different needs, vices and opportunities. I hope I've covered something for everyone in the last few months.

We don’t always think of the opportunities life gives us, but making a conscious decision to be grateful for my life got me thinking about everything that happened this year.  When I first thought back to the last ten and a half months it seemed that not a lot happened in 2012. It was just another year, another set of routines with fun thrown into the mix.

But then the firsts came to me: My first time in another country when I took a trip to India. My first yoga class. My first time going to a trance festival. There are others that are more personal but the list just grew and then I had to write it down.

Sure, some firsts came with some growing pains and having to let go, but overall it’s been a good year and taking stock of what I've been up to made me continue writing my list – no gap and no subheadings – to include the things I still want to do this year. Some are more easy than others.

Tomorrow I’m attending my first Tai Chi class. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m sure it’s going to be great. I’m going with a friend I met at a spiritual group – attending this group was another first. I saw a pattern in the firsts that had an impact on my life, the things I’m glad I tried or happened: they’re moving me in the direction I need to go.

Continuing with my list is a way to consciously invite change in my life and it made me realize that there’s a lot more I want to achieve. I usually just drift through life with my goals zooming in and out of my focus because I can’t be bothered to take steps to achieve them, but this year was different. I challenged myself to try new things, to push my body and mind with exercise and reach out to people I had a good feeling about.

Think about the firsts you've experienced this year, things that you’re glad crossed your path. If you’re not where you want to be, that’s fine too. For instance, if you want to pay back debt, focus on the solutions when you’re in debt, rather than looking at the mountain before you. You will have to get over it, so rather break your journey into smaller pieces than avoiding it altogether. Also look at how far you've come with every aspect of your life. What do you want to try differently and most importantly: what have you learned from making mistakes, going too slow or not acting at all?

Here’s to 2012 and making the most of the last few weeks. Success is great, but failure teaches us much more and prepares us for the future. Be grateful for all the lessons the year has brought on your path.

5 November 2012

Reward yourself with a weekend away

Passport to Paradise
Just like exercise, keeping your mind balanced and eating right, a holiday is very valuable to your over-all well being  It helps us relax and gain a new perspective on life.

Because times are tough, people are taking shorter holiday trips closer to home to save on accommodation and travel costs. Shorter, more frequent trips like these can be better for you as well. It means less stress about transport and time spent making travel arrangements and more time to unwind. It has been proven that short, more frequent holidays are more effective for stress management.

Long weekend trips are very popular and if you are planning on going away for a long weekend, it’s important to book in advance. For popular destinations, booking around three months in advance is usually necessary if your trip falls on a long weekend. To avoid this you can take a Friday or a Monday off work for a long weekend trip without the traffic.

Even when you are aiming to save and cut back on expenses, a reward once in a while can be good for your financial morale. Use a weekend away as motivation to save more or reward yourself for saving when you can afford to go away for a little while. We’re not talking five star accommodation here, because self-catering or camping can be a lot of fun at a fraction of the price.

Although, if you can afford to stay at a hotel, make sure you book in advance to get the best prices and ask about discounts. Sun City give considerable discounts if you book for longer than four days. Their most affordable hotel is the Cabanas Hotel.

Sun City's Cabanas Hotel, South AfricaFebruary isn't a bad time to get away. It’s still in the thick of summer and if you jump now you might discover very exciting holiday spots at good prices that aren't fully booked yet.

I wrote this article on Travel Safety in South Africa. It’s worth reading if you haven’t travelled in South Africa before.
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