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  • Writer's pictureTracy Shunkwiler

Stay Quit - It Ain't Easy

Most of us have quit a vice (addiction) at one time or another only to end up “using” again. It is one thing to quit spending, quit gambling, quit smoking, quit caffeine, quit sugar, quit drinking, quit drugs, etc., but it is another thing to “Stay Quit”.


Some of us are gifted with a moment of desperation or clarity when we see the unmanageability in our lives created by our continued dysfunctional behavior. That gift of desperation or clarity can be triggered by a call from a creditor or collection agency, the arrival of your bank statement, being denied a purchase with your credit card or debit card while a line of people stand behind you at the cash register or perhaps the veil of denial around the debt you have incurred has again smacked you in the face bringing you to your knees. Maybe you are receiving late fees and shut off notices, or your house is going into foreclosure and none of your creditors will negotiate with you anymore. In these moments we make a decision to stop “using”, to quit doing whatever thing we are doing that is creating self-loathing, fear, sleepless nights, arguments, desperation and even fear of opening the mail. You self-talk, you send out another foxhole prayer; you know those prayers where we tell the God of our understanding we will do anything, if he would just help us out of this one, just one more time. Usually on a Sunday night at our bottom, feeling alone and scared, we are really ready…this time…to start anew. “Dear God, I am scared. I do not know how I will pay my bills this month. I am ashamed and cannot tell anybody. If you could just help me this time, I promise I will never overspend again.” You may even feel a sense of hope while your mind races, creating the “new plan” that will give you the freedom you are praying for until the next time we say, “I will start tomorrow” and the cycle of fear and desperation continues.


It is not enough to just become aware and see the truth of our financial wreckage. You must do the work necessary so that you never end up here again. If not, you will end up back in the exact same place. You can make a few behavior changes. You can live like a “dry drunk”. (This term is a slang expression infamously known in the sober/recovery community. It describes a person who no longer drinks or abuses drugs, but continues to behave in dysfunctional ways.) You can stop the continued over spending, but you will still live in the fear and dysfunction of the debt. You can play the Three Shell Game: You move loan/credit card debts around to consolidate balances in an effort to lower the interest payment only to find it is too high to continue to make on a timely basis, if at all. You still have collectors calling you and eventually say, “Why bother?” The bills are still rolling in, I am still arguing with my significant other, I am living in deprivation and still in fear of the telephone and the mail. “So why bother?” There continues to be more month than there is money; nothing has changed.


I want you to know, you ARE NOT weak or morally irresponsible. I want you to know that you do not have to live this way. There is hope and there is help. You are absolutely not alone. How do I know this? Because I have been there. In the depths of my wreckage I surrendered. My way was no longer working and in truth I did not have a clue how to live without debt. I turned my will over to the God of my understanding and I learned there is another way. I got help.

Today I do not live in debt. I do not fear the telephone or the mail. As a matter of fact, I answer unknown numbers on my telephone and my postman and I are now friends. I do not argue with my husband over money. We actually look forward to having our weekly financial meetings now.


The first step to Stay Quit is the realization and the admittance that you alone caused your financial wreckage. Your decisions, your habits and your attitudes towards money has created your current financial situation. Of course, for most of us, this is much easier said than done. There are so many reasons we feel we are victims to outside issues. In truth, we are not victims to anybody else or organization when it comes to finances. When you can see this truth, your feelings around money and your behaviors change. You might say, “But Tracy, I lost my job, my car died or I had a medical emergency and that is how I landed here.” I would say to you let us look a little deeper. I would ask you to do some soul searching:

Is this your pattern? Do financial crises find you?

Did you have an emergency fund ( a minimum of $1000) in case Murphy’s Law came knocking at your door… which he always will?

Were you living within or below your means?

How did you get here? What roll did you play in landing yourself here? What could you have done differently?

Did you have a workable budget that you followed?

Did you have bills that you were paying late or couldn't pay in full each month?

Were you feeling secure and happy with your finances?


My sister Debbie and I always say, you do not know what you do not know. In some cases there are things you do not ever want to know. However, in finances, you need to know. You need to be vigilant. You need to have a plan. You need to have black and white clarity.

Most of us were not taught to delay instant gratification. We were not taught about living within our means. We were not taught how to balance a check book. We were not taught how to save for the future.

Getting out of debt, to Stay Quit and to create wealth…yes, create wealth…is not just about getting out of debt. We can all lose a pound, but how do we keep that pound off? To Stay Quit is an inside job. You need to be honest, open minded and willing to see your part, examine your behaviors that got you here, do the work and make the sacrifices that may be necessary for you to reach your financial goals. This is a process.


With the decision to change you feel hope, but when the behaviors change it is a different kind of hope. Knowledge is not power when it comes to money; it is the action from the knowledge. It is the behavior changes that you intentionally choose that creates power and puts you on the road to financial freedom.

What I know for sure is that we all work too hard to live on a financial hamster wheel. “Stuff” only makes us feel good at the moment of the purchase. It does not matter if your annual salary is $20,000 or $1,000,000, you can be in the exact same boat…a boat load of debt or a boat load of abundance.

If you want to Stay Quit, I can help you get there. If you are ready to change your legacy or just dip your toe in the water and see what debt free living is all about, I can help you get there. If you just want to hear more about how financial coaching might be able to help you, I can help. You are welcome to come sit and talk with me. I will not judge you. I will not tell anybody I spoke to you. This is your journey and I honor it. There are no obligations or fees of any kind to come in for a consultation and there is absolutely no sales pitch. You have to be ready and willing to do the work. If you are ready, I promise you your life will change in ways you cannot begin to imagine. You, too, can get out of debt, Stay Quit and create wealth.

It is okay to be scared. Are you ready?

Nothing but respect,


Life and Financial Coaching

Cell: 267-566-7681

If you have lost all hope and can’t see there is a way out, please tell somebody. Please get help.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.


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