When You Feel Like Burning the Budget

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I had a rough day at work today. Then my daughter, who I miss terribly while she’s at daycare, was a little grumpelstiltskin when she got home. My husband has been away on a work trip since Sunday and my house is a mess. It was ONE OF THOSE DAYS.

And then it began…

“I don’t feel like making dinner. Where can I get takeout?”

“Ok, I won’t get takeout. I deserve a treat, though. CVS, what delicious treat do you have for me?”

“Ok, I bought cereal. My treat is cereal for dinner. This does not fix my bad day. I should rent a movie on Apple TV.”

None of these are expensive items. Takeout probably would have cost $15-$20. My cereal was $1.99. The movie would have been $5.99. The problem is, the extra money just isn’t in the budget for this month. I already spent my “fun money” on a few other things.

When we are tired or sad, or we have a bad day, it’s so easy to excuse our behavior with “I deserve it” reasoning. It’s never worth it, though. I have set my budget ablaze enough times to know that no matter how inexpensive the purchase, you will regret taking a step further away from your financial goals. That’s why you need a budget fire prevention toolkit.

The Toolkit

I have a handful of activities that usually cure me of the “I deserve it!” blues:

  • Movies/documentaries about people who are living with less (It’s a Wonderful Life, TINY, and Into the Wild are a few favorites)
  • Taking a long walk–no phone, no music, just time to sort out my thoughts
  • Updating the budget to see how much closer we are to our goals
  • Writing about it
  • Listening to past episodes of The Dave Ramsey Show, or better yet, watching YouTube videos of his guests doing their “debt-free screams”
  • Figuring out how I can still treat myself without spending money (i.e.using giftcards for food/coffee, getting a new book at the library, watching one of the gazillions of movies on Netflix, having a beer or a glass of wine, making a cake in a mug, etc.)

At least one of these will work for me at any given time. There are still those days when the budget burning urges win, but having these strategies in my back pocket helps to make those days the exception, not the rule.

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