Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living

Paul Mckenna will hypnotise my debts away. I can't resist
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The Independent Online

Well, hypnosis might be the answer. Only, I bet most of Paul McKenna's clients don't have to cope with small children who barge in and disrupt his sessions by yelling: "I wanna watch Fireman Sam!" Never mind. I have a copy of Overcome Emotional Spending, by the master, and after playing the CD several times to myself today, trying to resist but zonking out every time, I intend to put myself through it every day for a week. McKenna suggests that, with his help, I can "change my habits around money" via "reprogramming of my subconscious patterns". One can only hope.

Actually, a lot of McKenna's points (launched this week in his £18.99 self-help guide I Can Make You Rich) seem sound. Financial diets, for example. McKenna thinks they are as hopeless as food diets. Severe financial cuts might help you get back into the black, but 90 days later you will probably fall back into your old habits and end up as badly overdrawn as you were before – or worse.

Has this happened to me? Not quite, but after knocking a debt of £40,000 on the head and arriving wild-eyed in the fresh fields of credit, the sorry truth is that I am now back in the red, pushing around an overdraft of about 10 grand. I'd like to think my diet worked, but clearly the truth is that it only worked partially.

How do I cope with this? The first way, which is my default position, is not to think that my strategy has failed, and to tell myself: "This is an expensive period in your life. Bringing up small children is costly. Wait until you are out of the childcare trap. Then things will be better." The second way – McKenna's way – is to wean yourself off the "emotional rollercoaster of financial life". At least, I think that's what his message is, as I was half asleep when he said it. Hypnosis, you see.

His method is to try to give up the addictive, emotional hook of feel-good shopping and to become financially aware by dividing things into: A) essentials (food); B) important non-essentials (mobile phone bill); and C) silly luxuries (Marc Jacobs bags, Penhaligon soap etc). Carry on with A, only go for B now and then, and never touch C. This will make your wealth grow by leaps and bounds.

I put the CD on, and hope that McKenna can "reset my emotional equilibrium and fill me full of happy, good feelings". This involves squeezing my fingers and thumbs together and thinking of bad things (to be linked with shopping) on the one hand, and good things (linked with self-esteem) on the other. Mr Millard comes into my office. "What on earth are you doing?" he asks, looking at me in my chair, squeezing fingers and thumbs, eyes shut, channelling Paul McKenna. "Being hypnotised out of wanting to go shopping all the time," I murmur in a daze. Actually, I don't even enjoy shopping all that much, but McKenna is not to be argued with. Obviously, as he is worth more than £10m and I am clearly not, I could do with his help.

There's more. McKenna is offering not just salvation for shopaholics, but a positive mindset that should help you become actively rich. I Can Make You Rich is such a fantastic title for a book that it will clearly soar to the top of the bestseller list. All right, it's pure alchemy, but still – what a great promise for our money-crazed society. Even though it seems to be activating an entirely contradictory policy to: "I can stop you wanting to go shopping." The very rich seem to love going openly and outrageously shopping (pace Victoria Beckham, Michael Jackson, Elton John, the England football squad), but never mind.

According to McKenna, who has gone around the world asking billionaires how they do it, getting rich involves focusing on your money, in the same way that, say, Richard Branson does. Putting some of it in the bank is a start. This will provide a "money magnet", helping you to attract more and more. True enough. If you save a little bit every month, you do indeed feel slightly more empowered against the giant enemy of debt. And you enjoy adding to it, while at the same time resent spending any of it.

The question now is: do I resent spending £18.99 on McKenna's book? And, prior to buying it, should I have classified it in A) essentials, B) important unessentials, or C) expensive mumbo-jumbo? I'll tell you after I've had seven days of hypnosis.

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