If you’re living hand-to-mouth and saving nothing, or if the credit cards are maxed out and you constantly find your wallet empty once you’ve bought food, paid bills, and made minimum payments, it only takes one unplanned expense to cause everything to fall behind. Meeting these obligations feels great compared to the dread of deciding what bill waits until later, but the temptation to splurge on yourself as a reward with any extra money left over is even harder to resist (especially when prodded by retail advertisers to “save more by spending more.”)
This is inter-workings of the credit trap, forsaking preplanned purchases for spontaneity. While there’s nothing wrong with an occasional splurge, whenever I set aside some discretionary funds for the future, I inevitably get talked (or talk myself) into eating out, buying some small something, whatever. While all the bills are being paid, not much can get saved when all these small purchases add up.
Taking a cue from my roommate/landlord, I decided to try something new. For a two-week pay period, I planned out every purchase I was going to make: every meal, gas, entertainment, you name it. Then I counted out what I needed and threw the rest in savings just to see if I could make it. After buying a couple bags of groceries and such, I settled in to force myself to do what I once HAD to do out of necessity: make due on exactly what I already had (but without the worry that anything has gone unpaid).
By way of contrast, my roommate can go out, buy a whole turkey, cook it, and eat on it every day of the week. Not me; no way. I need a little variety, so I usually get canned goods and things that I can make 3-6 meals from and spread those out a little. The first week was fine, but when faced with what was left in the freezer and sitting idle on the cupboard shelf, the mind inevitably starts thinking about how nice a hot Arby’s roast beef and cheddar sammich would taste (and not having to cook).
Long story short (too late) is that I made it, and the hardest part was changing my mind. The whole “I want it right now because I can afford it and I deserve it, dammit” rationalization doesn’t hold a lot of water when you’re hoping you have enough gas to get through to your next payday. I intend to make this a lifestyle change because it’s a smart thing to do these days and because it’ll help me delete my existing debt all the quicker. Then, maybe, I’ll treat myself to an Arby’s sammich… I think I’ll have one on the 20th.
Orignal From: Not Treating Paydays Like Holidays