Spending Diet update! You can track how my own savings are progressing here.
Time to come clean…
For all the money advice I’ve been dictating to you guys, all the pep talks and enthusiasm I show, I’m actually a pretty poor role model. When it comes to discipline and resisting temptation… I could use some work. In fact, sometimes, I can be pretty damn irresponsible about my money.
Sometimes my slip-ups are totally avoidable. Like buying lunch at work because I was too lazy to make a sandwich that morning. I usually regret this stuff immediately (sometimes I regret spending that money BEFORE I spend it…which probably says something terrible about my self control).
Other splurges are more justifiable for real or imagined reasons: the cute dress I bought for that hot date, the discount wine tour tickets, a last minute flight out to San Francisco to help my friend celebrate her birthday. These expenditures are few and far between, but seemed absolutely essential at the time.
When I count up all the things I’ve unnecessarily wasted money on in the past two years, I’m fairly certain I could have surpassed my savings goal by a healthy amount. But I refuse to beat myself up for it. I think that in a lot of ways, serious saving is comparable to dieting. You have to feed your impulses once in awhile or you are just going to binge later. That plane ticket was like a gooey piece of chocolate cake that prevented me from attacking the whole fridge in the middle of the night.
I think we all have to splurge sometimes, if only for our mental health. The key than is to manage your splurges in a healthy way, so that the only thing growing fat is your bank account.
A few tips I’ve picked up:
- Prioritize– we all have certain things that are just really important to us- no matter the cost. Maybe it’s getting an expensive haircut, or seeing live music. For me it’s doing fun things with my friends, and the occasional weekend trip. I need those things to stay sane, so I allow myself to spend a little extra money even as I stash most of my paycheck away.
- Look for deals– if you’re going to spend money, at least try to cut that price tag down by looking for a discount. Thanks to the Internet deals are shockingly easy to find.
- Be honest– that’s really the key here. It’s important to be realistic with yourself and with your budget. How much can you happily live on? How important is what you’re saving for? What are your limits? For example I had to quit online shopping cold turkey because I do not know when to stop. It’s okay to let yourself spend a little extra once in awhile, but you still want to keep your eye on the prize.
This post is not permission to start running your wallet like a crazy person, spending to your heart’s content. The point is that you need to be honest with yourself about your needs. You do have to make sacrifices to get where you want to go, but ultimately life is about living, and living well if you can manage it.
What smart splurges do you make?