Motivational Monday: Money Honey

Piggy backing off last week’s post about knowing your price, this week is about relationships with money.

I don’t know about y’all, but I have a very, very abusive relationship with money. I’ve been evaluating my budget recently, especially after dropping $1000 on my car and $550 on a plane ticket. Both were paid out of my savings account. That’s exactly what the savings account is for. It’s for unexpected expenses like twiddling my thumbs on getting a ticket to Virginia for my niece’s birthday or replacing my brakes so I don’t, you know, end up in a car accident. Yet I’m still beating myself up over it.

I should have planned better.

I should have been able to pay it out of my checking account. 

I need to stop buying frivolous things like nail polish and clothes or eating out all the time.

And the list goes on. Like most beliefs and tenets, they’re formed when you’re very young. My mom in particular complains about the cost of things or comments frequently how the family has “no money”. Mind you, I grew up in the suburbs, went to private school my entire life (that includes college), and my sister and I never wanted for anything. That does make one raise an eyebrow. I only really got a concept of what things cost when I started working. By that point, the beliefs were ingrained in me. I’m certainly not inches away from poverty. Even if I didn’t live with Boy, I could very easily pay rent and all my other bills. However, I also don’t know anyone who would turn down more money.

Just like abstinence only sex education doesn’t work, neither does abstinence only budgeting. I may beat myself up over “frivolous” spending, but I’d be a hell of a lot more miserable if I stuck to paying the bills, putting most of what’s left in savings, and not allowing for many fun purchases at all. Boy, on the other hand, is a stereotypical Jew. We may not understand the other one’s financial philosophy, but it doesn’t make one better than the other. It just means he pays for dinner more than I do. 😛

Just like with any other negative self talk, I have to remind myself it’s a bunch of bullshit. I’m a perfectionist to a fault (just read the personality test). I have to have a perfect body, walk out of the house impeccably dressed and coiffed, drink green smoothies twice a day, and manage my money so it’s perfectly balanced. No one is ever going to be that perfect. It’s not possible. Sometimes, a girl just needs a new purse, though not at the expense of the rent. N’est pas?

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Money may make the world go ’round, but you get to decide which direction it spins.


Of buyer’s remorse and June bugs

Welcome June! At least you haven’t come bearing the godawful heat yet, just the lovely sticky humidity.

So new month, new set of goals. I’ve paid off all my medical bills from last year (woohoo!) which has allowed me to shift my budget around. As always happens, I’m eyeing the extra money trying to decide the fanciest thing I can spend it on the fastest. Then once I buy whatever it is, three days later, I’ll be wishing I hadn’t. In the vast majority of these cases, I can’t return said thing. Typically it’s some iteration of “life coaching”, radical diet change program, or both. They don’t usually issue refunds. In fact, I’m often paying 50% more to break the contract. Not cool. I hesitate to call them budgetary rules. I still look at a rule as something to be subverted or flat out broken. Again, doesn’t make things very easy to stick to, does it? It’s the metaphorical bingeing and purging that once again rears its ugly head.

I’m sure I’ve discussed the amount of money I spent on Groupons, yoga equipment, and actual yoga classes before I admitted to myself I disliked yoga. When I added up just the purchases I could remember, that same sum would have allowed me to buy a plane ticket to visit my best friend in Virginia. I wrote down that number and came up with a list of other things I could have spent that money on. I saved it in my phone as a reminder every time I’m tempted to make another impulse purchase.  A few years ago, the life improvement programs were a good idea simply because I didn’t know which way was up. Now that I’ve healed enough, I have a pretty good idea of which direction to go using only my internal compass. After all that nattering, my financial goals / guidelines / polite suggestions for the month of June:

  • Write down the amount of recent impulse purchases. Make a list of other things I could have bought or saved for using that sum.
  • Wait at least 5 days before making a decision to buy something more than $40 (read- the average cost of date night).
  • If it’s a sale that ends before the 5 day period, be willing to spend the full amount.
  • Do my best to avoid the hype. Buy!Buy!Buy!Now!Now!Now! is hard to avoid, but again, if I take the time to think, I should be okay.
  • Walk into a store, be it Target or Gucci, knowing exactly what I want.
  • Carry cash as often as possible & leave the debit cards at home.
  • In the same vein as the 5 day suggestion, think about experiences vs. stuff: For example: Around this time last year, I was given the opportunity to go to an aerial retreat in Costa Rica this past January. I turned it down because I didn’t want to burn 5 days of my time off right off the bat. Now I’ve been promoted and got an extra week of vacation time as part of the deal. The same retreat is happening this year and I’m already setting aside money to participate this time around. It also happens to be 2 weeks after my 30th birthday. Hello present to me! I know I’ll get a lot more out of that experience that I ever would spending the same amount of money on a thing. Frankly, I’m not even sure what thing I could buy with the same amount of money.
  • Above all – be patient with myself. If I do buy something out of sheer impulse, I’ll do my best to return or get a refund.

…And go!