Boundaries and Money – Interview Attorney Christine Kingston Feb 2018

Categories: Interview, Podcast
Katherine: Hello, everyone and thank you so much for joining us on This Needs To Be Said. Our friend, Attorney Kingston is coming and we’re going to talk about boundaries and money today and we’ve had her on to talk with us about making bankruptcy a good word and about how to re-set your life and especially when you have student loans that are looming around. She’s coming today to talk with us about boundaries and money. I’m curious to know, have we overstepped our boundaries or have we not stepped up to the boundaries? Anyway, we’re getting ready to learn. Get your pen and paper out and welcome back, Attorney Kingston. How are you?
Attorney Kingston: Katharine, I am fantastic. I am better than I deserve. Thank you so much for having me back.
Katherine: Thank you so much for coming back. Now, I got excited as I always do when I’m talking with you, when you say, okay, this is the approach. This is what we’re going to do. I always get to talk to you like at the cutting edge of something, like we’re getting it hot off the press and being able to have a dialogue about it and get people thinking, “Hum, while I may not be filing for bankruptcy, what she said really helps me and it helped me move forward in my life and making better decisions”. I think today is going to be no different than that. So, boundaries and money. Tell me what you’re talking about here.
Attorney Kingston: Sure. Well, you know there’s two things. We’re talking about setting some boundaries after an issue occurs and we feel angry about a decision that we might have made and so maybe we want to re-set some boundaries and make new choices to maybe avoid a bankruptcy case. I always come back to how can we relate this back to money, budgets, and whether or not we’re going to make a conscious decision to go into bankruptcy. People want to avoid it at all costs so those people need to be making those boundary decisions not to go into that.
Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: One of the things that I’ve … I’ve been reading this book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
Katherine: I’ve heard of it.
Attorney Kingston: They have a whole series on boundaries, right?
Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: Now, I don’t practice any one particular religion but the book does reference a lot of bible verses and then it just brings it into practicality. I am really loving this book because that’s something that I’m also working on for myself is making sure that I have good solid boundaries which will make me more effective and more productive. I can give more to other people when I have taken care of myself.
Katherine: Absolutely.
Attorney Kingston: One of the most important things, Katherine, is its choices. Really I want to focus on the choices that people make and then obviously the law of cause and effect says what you choose, then that’s the reality that you’re going to get.
Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: When people sit there and say, “Well, I’m not happy with the way things are.” Well, the response to that would be what choices have you made that got yourself into this position. That’s a real empowering place because when people can be responsible for the choices that they’ve made, they then become empowered to make different choices.
Katherine: Yes.
Attorney Kingston: But to the extent that we want to stay in victim mode and not be responsible and say, “Well, I’m broke because of you or I’m broke because of my parents or you made me do it.” Well, that’s not empowering at all and so those people will remain stuck in whatever choice they made until they make a new choice. What I realized is I was sitting there getting frustrated with my husband because I feel like my weekends are constantly being interrupted by his requests. Then I get back into this book and I’m thinking, “Oh, my goodness. I’m the one that gave up my own boundaries. I made those choices to allow him to interrupt me and now I’m angry about it.”
Katherine: Now he’s bothering me. How did we get here? That’s a great question. Okay.
Attorney Kingston: It’s like anything, you get there over time.
Katherine: Yes.
Attorney Kingston: People that gain weight after a while, 20 pounds come on the body and then we sit there and go, “How did I get here?” You got there one bite at a time.
Katherine: Basically, exactly.
Attorney Kingston: People come in and they think, “Right, how did I get so broke?” One dollar at a time. One choice at a time. One decision at a time. Well, some people might say, “Well, but my car broke down, but this is what happened, this happened.” Well, yeah, there’s circumstances that are beyond our reasonable control. However, we make choices before those things even happen because if we maintain our vehicles then the cars won’t break down. If we have money in reserve rather than using a credit card for emergencies, now we have cash to pay for the problem when mercy comes to town rather than using a credit card to bail ourselves out temporarily. There’s a distinction between digging a hole and staying on solid ground. Those require choices.
Katherine: Yeah. In those choices, and that sounds real easy, but in those choices there’s accountability and there’s discipline so you’re going to be met with those problems, I don’t want to. Attorney Kingston I was just thinking about, I don’t have a problem saving money until I want to spend it. It’s like how do I overcome, how am I disciplined enough to go ahead and image that money isn’t there until you really need it? My mom used to say this when I was at home, a latchkey kid. She says, “Don’t call me at work unless it’s an emergency.” Of course a child is going to call because I can’t find the peanut butter or can I cut the TV on or can my friends come over. None of those things were emergencies.

The house burning down, drowning your baby brother, that might be an emergency. You get what I’m saying? I didn’t distinguish those things. I just decided my mom knows the answer and I’m going to call her at work. The same thing with our spending habits or our saving habits. What’s really an emergency? I want to go hang out with the girls or the pipes broke in the house and we’re not distinguishing a thing. Our relationship is how do we get here, that question. How does your husband continue to interrupt? Why do the kids not go to bed when I say? Those kind of things. How do we get here? You’re right. One decision at a time. That time the kids you said we’re now going to let them stay up a little longer, you’re not disciplined and stick to the schedule because now they think they can stay up late all the time. Yeah, this is like … In my head it’s like exploding like you’re right.

Attorney Kingston: Exactly. It’s self-control and that’s the biggest problem that I see is that we are all out of control. I had these interesting conversations because my husband is an engineer. He’s a numbers guy. I’m in bankruptcy, I’m a numbers gal. We talk about how can you have all of that at the same time in the sense that who’s fault is it? Is it the creditors fault for lending me the money? Is it my fault for asking for it? We’re in the business of capitalism in the United States. Capitalism gives a wide boundary of how much can you take advantage of another person before it becomes unconscionable and immoral or illegal, right?
Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: People get to make choices. They get to make choices as far as how much money they’re going to pay for something. I love the Internet because it evens the playing field. Now we can shop on price a lot of times.
Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: Some things are worth shopping on price like pencils perhaps if they’re all very similar but shopping for things like lawyers might require a little bit more research and background.
Katherine: Right.
Attorney Kingston: Or contractors or someone that you’re going to hire that’s a professional, you might need to do a little bit more research. But again, it goes back to our own choices and our own self-control in terms of what are we going to allow in. The person that makes the choice to go to a payday lender to borrow money on a short-term basis is someone that is trying to avoid bankruptcy at all costs.
Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: Or maybe they’re not even aware that bankruptcy is an option to them to get out of debt.
Katherine: Very true.
Attorney Kingston: The other problem is … Right? Or because maybes they just don’t make enough money to support the lifestyle that they’re living. People have to live inside those number. You make $40,000 a year, you have to live inside those numbers
Katherine: Or you’re going to have trouble.
Attorney Kingston: Or you’re going to have trouble.
Katherine: Right.
Attorney Kingston: So it’s the choices.
Katherine: The choices and it’s both temporary moments of and for me being a single mom at one point and just being overwhelmed with life because it all happens. A whole bunch of choices begin. They come to a head at one time it seems all at a sudden. But they do, one choice at a time. One choice over here in the area when the kids stay up too late probably made us late for school and work the following day which cost us some money. Then I was stressed. I wanted to just go and blow some money when I should not have done that. Everything leads to another and you do. Oh, I just feel like I’ll go out of my mind if I just don’t … There’s going to be bills when I die. Yeah, okay but you didn’t die and now you have financial problems and you need to borrow money from your mom and your friends. After a while you’re thinking, “Gosh, how did I get here?”

Again, the question is coming up in this conversation because we don’t have good boundaries. Now, we can talk about all these examples in This Needs To Be Said. I believe we caught you somewhere in all of what we said but as always, Attorney Kingston, I know you have some steps for us, some tips for us on how to be better choice makers.

Attorney Kingston: Well, yeah. First of all we have to become aware of where we’re at and make a conscious choice to say, never again and I want to change direction. When someone makes a powerful decision to transform their life even if it’s in a financial manner. I don’t care. Pick a category. You want to improve yourself spiritually? I love to talk about money. It’s my favorite topic because I’m a bankruptcy attorney. I help people get out of debt which also propels them back up into riches because we’re really freeing them up to go forward in life and it’s re-setting and re-starting a financial life.

When I do that, I’m working with my clients on a temporary basis. Part of what I’m up to when I work with my clients is I’m all about transformation. When you make a conscious choice to end the suffering, end the financial debt, get off that vicious cycle of the debt repayment, debt repayment thing. One of the things I say to people is, “Listen, us mere mortals, Katherine, you and I and all the people that are less than the multi billionaires, cannot afford debt other than maybe a mortgage and if you’re lucky you can afford a car payment because that makes automobiles very expensive.”

Other than that, we can’t afford credit card debt at 20, 30, I don’t know whatever the interest rates are. You can’t afford that and that’s not money coming into your pocket, that’s money going out of your pocket. So you spend a dollar on a pencil. You add 30% interest to that because you put it on a credit card, you’re paying a dollar thirty for a pencil and I’m only paying a dollar for a pencil.

Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: Now, you’re paying more because you’ve carried a balance on the credit card when I did not.
Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: First step, let’s consider that. Consider the choices but think things through a little bit more and then make a decision and make a promise to yourself, never again. I’m going to live within my means. I’m going to set a budget and if I fall off … It’s the same thing. Someone who’s on a transformative food program. I don’t want to call it a diet. It sounds like suffering. I don’t like suffering. Let’s stay back on money then. If we focus on the money part, let’s make a conscious decision if we go out and have a Starbucks or a latte and one day say, “Okay. Tomorrow I’m going to make a decision. Or I’m going to give this for that.” We can make some compromises with ourselves but we’re practicing self-control and self-discipline because we know this is what we want and you have to remind yourself constantly this is your goal, this is your choice and this is where you want to go. I think the next step, Katherine, let’s be good stewards with our money.
Katherine: Yes.
Attorney Kingston: If you act like the money that is yours in your bank account doesn’t belong to you, you’re going to treat it differently. If I were to sit there in the morning and say, “Wow. This money is not mine. This money belongs to Katherine. How can I be a good steward with Katherine’s money?” I’m going to act differently when I know it’s yours and not mine. So if we take that perspective and we just apply that in the beginning, then we’ll make different choices from the beginning.
Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: I think the first step would be … yeah, go ahead.
Katherine: I was just going to agree with you. We do behave differently when it’s other people’s things. Consider when we go visit somewhere else. We may not take our shoes off at the door at our house but if that’s the requirement at our friend’s house so we do. So you do accommodate, you do behave better or differently when it’s other people’s things. Things you wouldn’t normally do, mess up the carpet. I was just agreeing with you. And the third thing?
Attorney Kingston: Yeah, absolutely. The third thing would be when we’re good stewards and we treat it as if there’s other people’s money, we take a little bit more time. Part of that is, a metaphor that I’ve probably shared with you before, I call it making soup. If we’re making big decisions in our lives just like a big pot of soup. We throw in all the ingredients. So when we’re making that choice we’re going to throw in all of the options, all of the knowledge, everything that is known. Maybe we’re going to go gather some more information. Throw it all in the pot. What else do you do to make soup? You let it simmer for a long time, right?
Katherine: Um-hmm. Yes.
Attorney Kingston: So we put all the ingredients in the pot and we go to sleep on it. We pray on it if that’s what we do. We talk to other people about it. We get all the knowledge in a form and then we take some time and then we can make a well informed decision. Like for example, sometimes maybe I do want a cup of coffee or whatever but it’s two or three o’clock in the afternoon. I thinking if I take the cup of coffee now, I might not sleep until 10 or 11 o’clock at night. Okay, well that’s a small little decision but the example would be 20 minutes later maybe now I’ve got a different choice.
Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: Time changes things. If we give ourselves the space and the grace to not make an instant decision, we can also then use that to make wiser choices for ourselves, be mindful of the goals that we’ve set for ourselves and say, “Is this more important than that cup of coffee?” Like you said, same example, single moms. We let the kids stay up a little bit later. Now we’re exhausted the next day. That was a choice that we made the night before, right?
Katherine: Um-hmm.
Attorney Kingston: If we’re tired the next day that was our choice so let’s just be happy about being tired.
Katherine: Right.
Attorney Kingston: I think it’s a combination of those three things. To give yourself that time to make those better choices, to be mindful of the goals that you set for yourself, stay on track by taking the time and not making those decisions instantaneously and then staying inside the boundaries of the money that you make.
Katherine: I agree with you and as we wrap up this interview, because we’re coming back because we have to continue this conversation on boundaries and money. Tell people how to get in touch with you outside of This Needs To Be Said.
Attorney Kingston: Oh, thank you so much, Katherine. The telephone number to the office is 714-533-9210 and we are now on the web at www.surfcitylawyers.com. Thank you.
Katherine: Awesome. Until we meet again.
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