The Cake and the Eating: Financially Speaking
You can’t have your cake and eat it too from the beginning. That’s the delayed gratification that you must adopt. One month to 3 months of sacrifice can’t get you to a very different state. For example, let’s calculate that we can reduce our monthly expenses by $60. Remember that our goal is to get ahead of our bills. If we have $60 for 3 months, we have $180. Instead of paying our car note a week out, we can pay our car note before its due. We can plan out that financial transaction. We can pay things ahead of time. We are not getting hit with late fees. That $180 can end up being multiplied into $500, not to mention the health and wellbeing that comes from a position of less financial stress. Then, we can start talking about what can be done with that $500 that I’m not wasting? What other pre-payments can I make to change my situation or how could I take a trip this Summer because of the cushion in my budget?
Binge Behavior and Triggers
Binge behavior can happen even when you work hard and demonstrate discipline. You may say, “Hey, I’m going to treat myself because I worked so hard. I pay my bills on time.”
The example that comes to mind is so-called “cheat days” when dieting. I understand the temptation. But, the temptation is present because the diet is seen as a temporary fix. In the same way, some are seeing this financial discipline as a temporary fix for their lack of ends. We are not engaging in financial planning as a temporary fix. This is a lifestyle that will change the way that you see your financial opportunity toward securing your financial future.
Binge situations are likely when the temptation is the highest. This isn’t just a paycheck arrival temptation. I speak of occasions and seasons like a birthday, holiday, or similar celebration. Your budget goes out the window. You engage in paying for the opportunity in that moment where you don’t consider where this money is going or where the money to pay for it is coming from. Triggers may be a celebration as well, but it also could be sadness or an emergency that happens. Emergencies with family members are especially challenging. You often feel obligated to give whatever you have at that moment no matter if its designated in your budget to go somewhere else.
A lifestyle isn’t about creating cheat days. Those binge opportunities need to be re-oriented. Cheat days and irresponsible spending are oriented toward self-deception. This pattern is not sustainable. It creates a pattern of knowing better while doing what you know is unsustainable. I counsel that you orient yourself to honesty. Practice a reality that includes the expenses that you will work to address as part of your authentic lifestyle.
I’m not saying that you deny those requests. I’m offering that those situations are to be included in the financial lifestyle. Address the reality that you have observed over time. Adjust your budget accordingly. Provide flexibility for those situations, even emergency situations. Include that trip you would like to take and the birthday that you know is coming up. You want to spend money. Set a certain amount of money for these expenses and stick to that amount. The choice is to sacrifice such that the sacrifices you do make are looking forward to these expenses as normal in your lifestyle. When you are challenged to save excess, you are saving for a purpose and maintenance of your lifestyle.