Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Psychology of Overspending


So I'm not a psychologist. But allow me, dear reader, to pretend you are my psychologist and that I'm writing this from a prone position on a chaise lounge while I bite my fingernails and tell you how it's going.

I've been on a budget for 2 months and let me tell you something you might already know. Money is a lot more emotional than I previously thought.

I would give myself a solid B- so far in the budgeting department. I've been very good and diligent about creating my budget before the month starts and changing it, morphing it, and moving things around as I need to.

But I've fudged. Since JTS and I have some separate accounts and since some of my income is freelance I have a small amount of $$ on my own to fudge with even though I'm not supposed to. And I've learned my greatest weaknesses are Kindle books, Lil'D clothes, and eating out.

There are three main challenges I have when it comes to staying on budget:

1) Instant gratification
3) Laziness and hunger

#1 and #2 go hand in hand. If you didn't grow up budgeting or thinking about saving money - when you make the switch to budgeting - mentally you are there but emotionally it's a struggle And for me emotions trump. Not getting what I want when I want it (i.e. RIGHT NOW) makes me feel poor. There is no better way to say it. It's ugly but it's true. I can get really depressed about it if I ponder too long on the wants. I want: new clothes, Christmas decor, a fall wreath, new books, new sheets, a rug for my office, some fashionable curtains, and to eat only organic food that was blessed by angels. Feeling poor and feeling sorry for yourself when you have a roof over your head, a nice kitchen with food, and your child has a play room all their own is absurd and probably more than just a little offensive. This I know.

But. It is how I feel. Even if I know rationally my former life was not really ever real  (almost always sponsored by Visa) it's a mindset I've known for so many years and I have no idea how to get rid of. I've started practicing gratitude about what I have and focusing on my goals but feeling the feelings about money is the single biggest impediment to my success as far as I can see. I miss what spendthrift me looked like. I miss my new and expensive clothes. I miss my dinners out with red wine. So I can only hope that once you make it through some time with this budgeting thing you get better at handling the wants.

Do you have unroll me? As far as I'm concerned they
have just rolled all the temptation into one big email.
And in the same vein, if you didn't grow up with budgets and saving - when you see SALE! 40% OFF! emotionally you pounce! You start doing mental gymnastics about how you HAVE TO buy something RIGHT NOW because you know - SALE! I succumbed to the sale e-mail last week. 50% off! Flew out to the store, bought a bunch of stuff I could use but probably didn't need for Lil'D. Fast forward to this week and I was greeted with a new e-mail: 60% OFF! The same stuff, now only cheaper. Lesson learned. (Maybe).

The last one (eating out) is probably the easiest one to fix because it just involves more planning ahead. I'm not terribly good at planning ahead but at least it's unemotional.

And now I'm off to listen to the savings lesson from my pal Dave again to buck my spirits up.

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