25 April 2011

Learning to Enjoy Doing Without- Or At Least Not Disliking It So Much!

Use it up- Wear it out- Make it do- Or do without!

Lately I've been feeling the weight and guilt that comes from spending too much money for unnecessary things. Too many unplanned "quick" trips to the store, too many little splurges here and there that add up WAY too quickly! And I despise the feelings (guilt, fear, failure) that accomany these money binges!

We have a "big picture" plan of getting out of debt that we are enthuisastic about, but it is easy for the smaller (and sometimes not so small!) day-to-day expenses to become the proverbial monkey wrench in our plans. We have a budget and are getting pretty consistent with it. We even have a small amount in our checking account that is set aside for emergencies. The problem is, even though I don't include that amount in our balance, I still know it is there! It is too easy to dip into that "just this once" and make up for it with next week's paycheck. The problem is, something always comes up that seems to require the money intended to eliminate the deficit.

So what should be done? Two things in particular come to mind-

Oddly enough, it is when I am not being diligent with the checkbook that the money seems to begin slipping through our fingers like sand. This is probably our biggest defense against our spontaneous spending- keeping track of the funds. When I worked as a bank teller during college, it was easy to jot down the charges that came through daily. Now that I have to make time to complete this task, I am not as disciplined as I once was! Growing up, I noticed how my mother would never leave a store's checkout stand without writing the new sum in her checkbook and carrying the balance forward. I am making a commitment to do the same thing (or at least writing it down as soon as I get in the car). Keeping a true current balance right in front of me will help me to stop spending the amount I think is there, over and over and over.

The other thing that I know is necessary is to stop rationalizing purchases.  Just because something is a good deal, or just because I've had a bad day, or just because it's payday, that shouldn't justify me spending money for things that we don't need. I firmly believe in treating ourselves occasionally, but somehow I am really good at finding excuses for "celebrating!" really, really often. These feelings are typically shortlived, however, and they are replaced by guilt for not using the money more wisely. It's just not worth it!! I need to be more like my mom and grandmother who take pride in finding ways to live and celebrate daily life without spending more money!

Use it up- Wear it out- Make it do- Or do without!   It's my new mantra.

How about you? Any suggestions for reining in the spending beast or keeping those feelings of entitlement at bay?

1 comment:

  1. You answered yourself in your post. :P

    Our society makes it SO easy to spend, charge, incur debt and live above our means. And they will tell you that you "can't afford NOT to buy this" (yes, you can!) and that you "deserve this" (you deserve the security of money in the bank) and that's it's "normal" to overspend (no, it's foolish and fleeting and short-sighted).

    Your emergency fund is for EMERGENCIES. Unless it is something that has you sitting down white-faced in shock (husband lost his job, car broke down on the highway, etc), leave it alone. And if you do use it, treat it like a bank loan - pay it back with *interest*.

    Make a daily commitment to live below your means, not just "within" them. Like your marriage vows, it's possible, sometimes easy, sometimes hard, and it requires a daily commitment. Instead of focusing on the thrill of shopping, focus on the thrill of seeing that bank account get bigger. Remember - if it was marked down from $50 to $20 and you didn't NEED it, you did not save $30 ... you spent $20.