My Groundhog Day Moment: When the Lights Went Out
Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? Maybe I’m becoming sentimental, but I love watching these movies from my youth and I always enjoyed that one. With our faithful groundhog ready to make an announcement about the arrival of Spring this week, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for that movie to show up on television.
The premise of the movie is pretty interesting. Bill Murray, starring as Phil the Weatherman, is caught in a blizzard in Punxsutawney, PA on Groundhog Day. He’s then forced to relive the day over and over again until he makes some changes in his life, his attitudes, and his relationships with other people. Wouldn’t it be handy to have a Groundhog Day button in our own lives, so that when we make a mistake we can go back and fix it? So far I haven’t figured out how to repeat days, but I certainly have noticed some Groundhog Day moments in my life.
On a financial level, one particular moment occurs to me. I was 25, it was winter, and I was living paycheck to paycheck, and honestly not always making it from one Friday to the next. This particular day I had put off paying the electric bill for far too long. When I left for work, the lights were on, but when I came home, the windows were dark, and there was an ominous red tag stuck to my front door. My power had been cut, and I recognized at that point I needed help getting my finances in order. A few months’ worth of not making a full payment on my electric bill had finally caught up with me, and I wouldn’t be able to go back and fix that mistake before it happened - I had to deal with the consequences instead.
We all recognize those behaviors we engage in that could use a good dose of Groundhog Day, from not eating right to not exercising enough. There are a lot of financial decisions that can lead to regret down the line, but in my experience, there are three big mistakes we often make when it comes to our money.
1. Sticking your head in the sand. This means that you don’t open mail, you ignore late notices, and you let it slide. Even if you don’t have the money to pay all of your bills, you still need to know what you owe and reach out to those businesses to make arrangements if possible.
2. Living on credit. I know, I know, sometimes it’s hard to get from one week to the next. For the sake of your future and your sanity, you need to figure out a way to not only make your income last, but also save back some for tomorrow. Not all loans are bad, but make sure you know what you’re getting into, and if you’re going to charge that fast food to your plastic, make sure you can pay it off at the end of the month.
3. Going it alone. If you have a family, a spouse, or even a room mate, you have somebody you need to talk with about your finances. And if you’re struggling, there are places that will help you get back on track. When I realized I needed to take charge of my finances, the first person I talked to was my mom, and then I visited my credit union, Afena.
So here’s hoping that Phil doesn’t see his shadow on Tuesday - I’m ready for Spring! And here’s hoping that if you find yourself reliving the same financial mistakes over and over, you’re able to conquer your own personal Groundhog Day. I’m Claire, the Afena blog mom. Thanks for reading.