Updated: Sep 16

By Anonymous

I grew up in a small suburb with my parents and my younger brother. We didn’t have a lot of money. My mom tried to save money buying by my clothes at garages sales, and they were mostly boys clothes. I was so embarrassed. I wanted to wear cute stylish clothes like my friends. My dad was an alcoholic. My parents fought a lot when he was drinking. My Dad was a bar owner and was never home. He drove a convertible Cadillac and also a Limo. He dressed very flashy. I don’t know if we could afford it or not.

I started working at age 15. I wanted my own spending money. Early on, I got into the habit of going shopping with friends and buying new clothes after each paycheck. I did not save any of my money. No one told me about saving money. If they did, I don’t remember. When I started dating, I would buy clothes and presents for my boyfriends. I also bought presents, meals and drinks for friends. I had to impress them - I wanted them to like me. After high school, I worked in retail and I really liked it. I worked in a clothing store so I spent time looking at what I would buy on pay day. Of course, I got a credit card there. I never paid more than the minimum payments. I opened a few more credit cards. If there was a perk, I would get the card. I felt so grown up seeing my credit cards lined up in my wallet and I felt so important handing my credit card to the cashier and then I would leave with a bag of new clothes. I moved out of home after high school and worked in retail for a few more years and then went into the insurance industry.

I should have been able to pay my bills I made enough money, but I just loved to spend it and then did not have any money when the bills came due. I also was waiting to meet a guy to marry that would support me. He could rescue me from all my bills! In my early 20s it got to be so bad that I started asking my mom for help. I am embarrassed to say that I would call her crying and ask her to help me with bills. I was also very lonely and could not find the right partner, so I even asked my mom to help me pay for a membership to a dating organization! I cannot even imagine my adult son asking me for money like that! I became very depressed and knew that I had a problem with money and at times I just wanted to die. The spending would only make me happy for a short time and then the guilt would set in. I started to hide my purchases from family and friends.

I tried to stop spending on my own. I bought self-help books. I was in another 12-step meeting, but no one there spoke about spending money or debting. I did not bring up my money problems in that meeting. I read about Debtors Anonymous in a recovery newspaper. I thought about going to a meeting for a few months and then I finally drove to a meeting that was close to my home. I think there were only two meetings in MN at the time and one was within 3 miles from my house! Looking back, I know that was my higher power working in my life! The first couple of times I sat in the parking lot but did not go into the meeting. The 3rd time I went in! That 1st meeting was a great meeting for me. It was small and everyone was so welcoming. I kept coming to the meeting each week and also to other DA meetings as new meetings we started up in the area.

I got a sponsor and I had regular PRG meetings. I was also able to be a part of other PRG meetings. I have learned something from each PRG meeting – no matter which side of the table I sit on. Fast forward a few years, I was dating a guy that I met through a newspaper ad – it was in the early 90s. Things were getting serious with us. He knew that I attended DA meetings. We were talking about getting married. I was just about done paying off my last credit card. So, I had to ask if he had credit cards, and how much debt did he have. He did have some debt, so, I invited him to attend meetings with me. Thankfully he agreed and he continued to come to meetings for quite few years. He doesn’t come to meetings right now but we continue to work this program together. We are able to have calm discussions about money. We used to end up fighting all the time. Now we are able to talk about anything having to do with money now and come to an agreement. When we got married, we paid for the wedding in cash. It was not extravagant, but it was perfect for us.

I have had the opportunity to do service at all levels. I have been two World Service Conferences. I have been a part of MN Intergroup and held different positions in the meeting. I have to force myself to do some of these things because I am an introvert, but I want to give back what has been given to me.

Back in 2008, I began to miss meetings here and there. I missed for a while and I thought I am still doing pretty good on my own, maybe I don’t really need the meetings. I continued to miss meetings and then my life started getting busy with other activities. I ended up buying some jewelry online on a credit card. DA had lost its priority. I didn’t go to meetings for seven years and I did a lot of damage. We are still trying to clean up the wreckage. I was back to my careless spending and debting behavior.

Here is what happened in that 7 years away from the DA program:

· We refinanced our home twice to pay off credit cards and took out extra money

· I started a home party business and took out a home equity loan to buy product

· We paid for two musical instruments for our son on credit

· We were on vacation and bought a timeshare

There were times when I thought about going back to the meeting but I felt so bad that I had left. I kept putting it off and tried to forget about the mess we were in, and I prayed for a miracle.

I got in touch with a couple of DA friends who encouraged me to come back. I finally made it back in 2014 and I am so grateful! Even though I was happy to see other group members come back to meetings after being away, I felt so ashamed about being gone for so long. Plus, I really got myself into a lot of debt and I knew I needed to be honest about that. It took me while to get honest with myself about what I was doing!

I now know without a doubt that I have to stay in this program and want to! It is life or death for me. I get so much help and hope here. I see people paying off their debt, living their visions, working the tools and steps, and I see the promises coming true in my DA friends, and they are for me as well.

After coming back to DA, I was honest with our son who was in middle school then. I told him where I was going on Saturday morning. I let him know that we now have a spending plan and we only have a set amount of money each month so we can’t spend any more than that, and we have start to save more certain things we needed or wanted as a family. We had to tell him many times that we did not have money for something he wanted. My husband and I both have had addiction issues, as do other family members. We had a lot of fear that he would have the same issues. I had a PRGs regarding our son going to college, and how much we would help him and how we could guide him to be self-supporting and not look to his parents for money, like I did.

Our son got engaged near the end of college. All I could think of was that I could not afford a wedding! He saved his money and bought the engagement ring. He did not ask us to help. I talked to my sponsor about the wedding and what we could give. We contributed $4,000 for the wedding. I wanted to know what the bride’s parents were giving, but that was none of my business and the money that we gave did not have anything to do with how much we love our son. They were grateful for our help. I thought we had to give them more money, but we did not.

I recently found an old vision list and a lot of those visions have come true. I am not out of debt yet, but these visions have come true:

· We got rid of our time share by deeding it back to the company because we could not sell it

· Our son has a college degree and he is self- supporting

· Our son is much better at handling his money than we were at his age

· We paid for our house to be painted and new roof last year

· My vision regarding my work environment, my manager and my salary came true

· An abundance of vacation days

In closing, I would like to say Debtors Anonymous has given me so much. I have so much to be grateful for and I am constantly reminded of that. Please keep coming back and don’t quit before the miracles happen and your visions come true!

By Dot P.

“I came to D.A. to stop debting; what I received in return was my life.” –Anonymous

When I entered the meeting rooms of D.A. I was at my wits end, desperate for a solution to my continuous worries and stresses over cash flow, bills, and the insurmountable personal stresses that plagued my mind and body. I was anxious, lived with terrors, was irritable, and I isolated, hiding myself and my deprivation lifestyle from professional coworkers, friends, and the fellows with whom I was walking a spiritual journey. I was living a false life, and I was miserable. I knew the world and everyone I met thought ill of me, was insulting me behind my back, conspiring against me to harm me and squash me down into nothingness. I was full of shame, self-hate, and hate toward others. My heart was a rock, unable to feel any softness. I believed deeply in God and held a master’s degree from a prestigious seminary. Go figure that.

At that time, I thought I had God all figured out. He was my father since a young age, as I had none. He was my provider and helped me out of financial scrapes. He provided food when I had no resources. He helped me when I was ill and needed medical attention to improve my health. He was my personal God, of course. From this side of recovery, I realize God brought many people across my path who helped me. People who were introduced into my life at critical times when I needed comfort and healing, who intervened in my crises and kept me from the brink of self-destruction. The world wasn’t out to get me, I was.

Listening and talking in the rooms of D.A. meetings, whining in self-pity and despair for several years while working the steps with sponsors, keeping my numbers, and doing service changed all that. In D. A. I have lived from one miraculous baby step stepping-stone to another miraculous baby step stepping-stone, each spiritual action and inner personality change introducing me to greater self-love, to loving others, and to financial and material stability. Now I live in, what is for me, unbelievable prosperity. For a woman who had not lived in a house since the age of thirteen, fifty-three years ago, and who has always struggled to have proper foods and to pay the rent, I am indeed living a life beyond my wildest dreams as a homeowner with a job where I have fourteen-year tenure as a valued employee. My new goal is to apply for a passport, build up a vacation savings account and travel. Oh, yes, and I am now a compensated published author, one of my far away dreams come true.

Yet, it has been my life with God that is my real miracle, the source of all the things listed above. it is a gargantuan miracle of God that has brought incredible beauty and love into my life. Throughout my fourteen years in D.A. God has slipped quietly into my inner being in many unexpected ways. Prayer and meditation, quietly learning to listen to the small, still voice in my intuitive inner self has brought innumerable blessings, too many blessings to keep track of or to count.

Through the D.A. program I have learned to ask for help to act on life rather than react to it, to get out into the world and really live instead of hiding under the bedcovers depressed and obsessed over my fearful imaginings about life. And I’m in the process of learning to let go and follow God, rather than acting before I pray. I listen to Him speak and ask Him what He wants me to do, if anything at all.

I have slowly learned in D.A. “The Solution is God,” and nothing else. Recovery is a byproduct of the condition of my life in God, my spiritual condition. Oh, I began to obtain the basic material rewards of a recovery life in D.A. by going through the motions of the steps and the tools. However, miracles happened when I threw open my heart to God with complete abandon. I’m not perfect and some days I struggle and rebel against practicing a spiritual life, but eventually I ask my peers and God for help and they get me back on track. That’s how things work for me.

I know without a doubt a spiritual life lived and enabled by practicing the steps and tools of D.A. and doing God’s will to the best of my ability, one day at a time, brings about wholeness of mind, spirit, and body. I have slowly learned what I now hold dear to my heart: 1) I am a debtor

and cannot manage my own life; 2) That probably no human power can restore me to sanity;

3) That God can and will if He is sought.” –paraphrased from Alcoholics Anonymous

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By Lisa F.

When it comes to my struggles with money and debt it seems like it started at a very early age. Even as a child I remember not having "enough". I remember my brothers getting more money for allowance, and when I questioned it, I was told they had to pay when taking girls out. And later when I questioned it further I was told that they had to do hard work outside like mowing the lawn (like doing dishes for a family of eight 2-3 times a day was a picnic, LOL). And, yes, when I questioned it once again I was told not to worry because I would get married one day and my husband would take care of the finances.

Fast forward twenty years and it came as no surprise that I would have issues with money and debt. I suffered in silence with no courage to let anyone else into my pain. On the outside all looked well. I owned a business, a home, and an automobile. But inside I was maxed out on my credit and was months behind on many of my bills. I quit opening the mail--like that would magically make these problems go away. I had an account frozen by the IRS for a mistake on my taxes. The mistake was not my fault but how I handled it, or rather didn't handle it; was. The account also happened to be managed by my brother. Ignoring issues is not a good strategy and it does catch up with you. I also had one of my neighbors come and talk to me about being behind on my association dues and that I could lose my house if I didn't clear it up. My secret was out. I was at a point where it was getting hard to juggle accounts and money--robbing Petra to pay Paula was also not a great strategy.

So when I walked into my first DA meeting in Denver CO in 1997 I immediately found a sense of Hope. It was a small meeting, but 3-5 people all equally yoked in pain was all I needed. There was very little DA literature at the time so we followed a book that was not official DA Literature that was contained some of the tools that we use in DA today. I followed that book sentence by sentence. If it said make a list, I made a list. If it said record my spending and income, I recorded my numbers. I call it “keeping my numbers”. I took all my credit cards and put them in a bag and filled it with water and into the freezer they went. They were on ice. Frozen. Not to be used. At the meeting they said just not to debt one day at a time. I could do that for 24 hours. Since our group was small when someone had a PRG (pressure relief meeting) all or most members attended. We all worked the steps as a group.

It was that group and that book that helped me learn to commit to keeping my numbers and helped me become solvent. I kept my numbers and went to cash for my daily expenses. When I compiled a list of debts, I was overwhelmed by just the process of figuring out what I owed, who I owed, and the exact amounts. I was completely vague about money which is a symptom of being a debtor. When I figured it out the total came to over $52,000. It was a hard number to cope with, but it was my number, and I found instant relief in knowing it.

I started working the steps and keeping my numbers and going to group. Almost immediately everything started to change. I was introduced to the concept of a "prudent reserve"--which is a savings account. I didn't have one when I came to program which was another part of the problem. I opened one and committed to start saving no matter how humble. Every Friday I would empty my jeans, ashtrays in my car, purse and deposit whatever I could scrounge up...one week it was $1.32 the next week $1.68. It was a humbling experience and once teller at my Credit union asked me about it. Here I was depositing $800/$1500 into my business account and $2.62 into my savings account...always in change. I remember being kind of embarrassed but said "you gotta start somewhere". I was determined to establish some savings. My account grew at an amazingly slow rate and was wiped out many times but I found in this program it is that slow methodical, incremental progress that is not only what helped me to become solvent, but after 4 years in the program, retire my debts. I made amends. I had Hope. I spread the word. I even hosted our first DA weekend retreat in the year 2000.

I wish I could say "and I lived happily ever after"- with abundance and prosperity but that wasn't my story. I found myself once again in an all too familiar place when I went back to school. I struggled with debt once again but I found the tools of the program work it you work them. There is always a meeting to attend and there is always steps to work along with the hand of other DA members. After many years in the program I now have visions for my life. I am debt free and have savings and prosperity. I rarely feel vague about money and even though life is not perfect...it is not without Hope.