Note: This post was released in December 2012. Any references to ailments and illness were written as parody and have no relation to more current events.
I remember the first time I had a Visa Headache.
It began when a Federal employee delivered something to the box suspended on a wooden post just a few inches from my front curb.
The discomfort came on subtly – and it increased dramatically as I entered the front door.
Millions of people will suffer from the same, painful affliction that comes after every holiday season.
Many of us develop a nervous tick and the desire to rush to the bedroom and hide. Others develop a shouting disorder similar to Tourette syndrome.
It’s called a Visa Headache
A Visa Headache is the dreaded sum of reckless activity from the prior month. Every January, this variant of “affluenza” causes loss of sleep, stomach aches, and feelings of nausea.
Some even have blurred vision and a sense of discombobulation.
It nags and nags our subconscious for days until it can no longer be ignored: The Visa bill needs to be paid!
Don’t become a victim
The character known as Nina Ash in the television show “Angel” is aware of the effects a full moon has on her – it turns her into a werewolf. She has the courage, nay the responsibility, to lock herself in a jail cell until the threat subsides.
While we don’t have to go to such extremes, we should have the forethought to prepare before we turn to a page that reveals thirty-one numbered boxes with the word “December” at the top.
Here are tips to avoid getting a Visa Headache and remedies for a cure:
1. Avoid the Black Friday Virus
We should make plans to keep ourselves busy the day after Thanksgiving.
DO NOT CROSS YOUR PROPERTY LINE for 24-72 hours
At the first mention of the words “Black Friday” from radio and the incessant TV commercials, we should block that day to put up Christmas decorations or have a de-cluttering party.
2. Be like Santa: Check it Twice
Make a list and check it twice.
Create a plan of attack on where to go, what to buy, and how much to spend before putting the key in the ignition.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
Santa knows who gets what long before the big velvet bag is plopped into the back of his sleigh.
Your list is MUCH more manageable than Santa’s.
3. Avoid Plastic Germs
It all starts with one innocent handshake with a piece of plastic.
One wipe (I mean swipe) at the mall and you have greatly increased your chances of contracting the disease!
Urban legend has caused people to have an aversion to green paper, like there is something wrong with it.
What studies have shown is that people who use paper money actually have a much greater chance, almost 100%, of never contracting a Visa Headache.
I like those odds – they are much greater than a game of Russian Roulette played with revolving credit!
4. Beware the “Me-gifting” bug
Let us trace the problem to its origin: Instead of buying a gift for someone or even re-gifting a present you received from good old Aunt Sally, you contract the “Me-gifting” bug by buying yourself a gift!
I know you didn’t plan for it to happen, it was an accident. It always is.
There is no pill available at Walgreen’s that can prevent a Visa Headache
On the contrary, walking through the aisles of the nation’s largest Pharmacy chain looking for such a potion could actually cause you to contract the “Me-Gifting” bug.
Warning: Christmas shopping with children increases the chance of me-gifting because “I deserved it for having to deal with such angels”.
5. Have Plastic Surgery
The first step may seem drastic – but it’s a sure-fire way to keep a Visa Headache from every appearing again:
Grab a pair of scissors and perform plastic surgery on your credit cards.
You don’t need a second opinion, it truly is the only sure-fire way!
6. Crash Diet
Cut back on excess spending.
As you have food in the fridge, gas in the car, and the pilot light lit in the furnace, you have everything you need.
Almost everything else is a “nicety” or a want.
Reduce spending on non-essentials so you have some dead presidents to throw at the statement the moment you see it in the mailbox.
7. Financial Vitamin “B” (budget)
To be certain you never have to deal with this crap again you need a regular dose of Financial Vitamin B (aka: budget).
It’s a power enhancer that works best when taken just before the 1st of the month. Vitamin B is not hocus-pocus or some magical potion although the instructions may seem a little unconventional.
How to make your own super-powerful Financial Vitamin B:
Step 1: While sitting, apply pencil to a blank sheet of paper and write down all your regular expenses (or use an app)
Step 2: Pressing lightly on the buttons of a calculator, subtract each expense from your expected take-home pay
Step 3: Stop when the calculator reaches zero. If a negative number is materializes on the digital screen then see Step 4
Step 4: Cross off any unnecessary expenses or reduce them until the total reaches zero
8. Exercise Often
Monitor your Financial Vitamin B daily to help prevent an overdose.
I recommend keeping it in your purse or wallet, the same place your plastic germ carriers used to be.
If you do any mobile shopping then I recommend using YNAB budgeting software at home and install the app on your phone. This will allow you to see how much money remains in a specific category as you are perusing the isles of your favorite big-box store.
Working out a little each week (by “out” I mean overtime or a second job) is the most potent form of financial exercising.
The more you work out the faster you will be healed!
Disclaimer: Side Effects of Financial Vitamin B
I should warn you of the side effects of such a remedy. They include:
- Neighbors making fun of you
- Spouses wondering what happened to the old you
- Friends wondering why you can’t go out again this week
- A feeling that the Vitamin B is controlling you
Everything will be OK.
Your spouse won’t want the old you back, you will have the last laugh over your neighbors, and you can buy your friends the next round once you are permanently cured from that pesky Visa Headache.
Also, the feeling that Vitamin B is controlling you is absolutely normal…because it’s true. But guess who controls the does of Vitamin B? Yep. You do.
The BAD news is you have to keep taking Vitamin B for the rest of your life to avoid getting a Visa Headache.
The GOOD news is Vitamin B has many POSITIVE side effects:
- Larger amounts in your bank accounts
- A feeling of control over your life
- More restful sleep
These are all positive side effects we have experienced since budgeting.
UPDATE: We paid off our house in 2015 and are completely debt free. Vitamin B made us look at our overall financial plan and saved a lot of money for our daughter’s college – which she is doing very well in. Retirement savings is also going well, despite a couple recessions. The controlled spending allowed us to save even during the time I had left my day-job to focus on my financial coaching business, which never grew enough to become my new career. I haven’t experienced a Visa Headache in almost 2 decades. It’s been wonderful!
Try my favorite brand of Vitamin B free for 34 days at https://SteveStewart.me/YNAB