The new year is the perfect time to clean out your financial closet. In his new book "Lighten Up" author Peter Walsh helps his readers face their financial fears and learn how to live happily with less.
Read an excerpt of the book below and then check out the "GMA" Library for more great reads.
Perhaps you're reading this while browsing in a bookstore. Ifso, glance over at the woman across the way when she's not looking, the one scanning titles of books on a table and searching for her next engrossing read. She's well dressed, appears healthy and happy, and looks intelligent and strong willed, someone who could be a friend or neighbor. You can't picture this woman as someone who feels extraordinarily lost and as emotionally bankrupt as her bank account. She is estranged from her husband and friends, disconnected from her children, stifled by debt, angry and resentful at how much her life has changed in recent years, and terrified that she'll never get back to that place where money was abundant and she felt so in control of her life. But if you were to follow her home and get to know this woman, you'd find that her looks defy everything about her. She doesn't know who she is anymore, and in fact can't find her way "home."
She's got mail dating back three months that she hasn't opened for fear of another past-due notice. Her teenage children have no idea that their college funds have been squandered and there's no
money for summer camp this year. Ever since her husband lost his job a year ago and money got excruciatingly tight, their relationship hasn't been the same. They can't afford to get a divorce, though the thought has crossed her mind. She harbors a grudge toward her husband for telling her that she's got to learn to live on less, and that their previous lifestyle is gone. Conversations about money erupt into ferocious fighting, and the thought of accepting this new reality is terrifying for both of them. How can she be happy? Where will she get the courage to find joy and peace of mind in all this mess? Who is she now? What pains her the most is that things fell apart so quickly. Just a few years ago, life was good and filled with opportunities. They always had money in the bank, plans for another vacation, and a clean and tidy house that their friends envied. Then came the Great Recession.
Overnight, all bets were off. Now the fear of losing their home looms large. They have burned through their savings and much of their retirement money. The woman does whatever she can to soothe her overwhelming anxiety, trying to find pleasure in boutiques and clothing stores—anything to put a damper on her emotional pain and deepening depression. She can't stop shopping. She pawned some of her jewelry last week just to pay for basic living expenses this month and find more money for shopping. When she pulls out a credit card to make a small purchase for herself, she feels guilty on the one hand, and on the other, wonders when someone will come bail her out like the government did for Wall Street. Somehow she gets through each day by pushing the reality of her situation to the back of her mind. If she just doesn't think about it too much she can manage it.
This woman is not unlike millions who are struggling to make ends meet through tough financial times while at the same time trying to preserve their emotional well-being. She may even be like you. And you are like everyone else.