There is something about getting closer to paying off debt that sometimes makes it feel more difficult not to overspend. It’s odd, I know–you would think that with the end in sight, I would be hyper-focused all of the time on spending as little as possible. After working on this goal for so long though, I see how much we make and what we could be doing with that money instead of paying for our past financial mistakes. Some days, that can feel incredibly frustrating.
Several months ago, when my husband and I had our financial breakthrough and finally got on the same page with our budget, I remember him being shocked to find out that there were plenty of times that I wanted to spend money. He was under the impression that I had trained myself to want as little as possible. That couldn’t be further from the truth! I am tempted to spend extra money all of the time. ALL OF THE TIME. Here’s a sampling of purchases that I was tempted to make just in the past week:
- An iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts
- A movie on Apple TV
- A subscription to StitchFix
- A book on Amazon
- Another pair of Frye boots (Amazon Prime Day, you are a seductive temptress)
- A hat at Target
- A new air conditioner from ANYWHERE
- A membership to our local co-op grocery store
If I had thrown the budget to the wind and made all of those purchases, I would have easily spent around $700. In the course of a year, $700 might not seem like a big deal. That’s when I have to stop and remind myself what that $700 represents:
- That’s a $700 step back from paying off a loan with only $4,500 left on it.
- That’s a $700 step back from creating our full emergency fund
- That’s a $700 step back from funding our daughter’s 529 account
- That’s a $700 step back from putting more into retirement
- That’s another month in between us and the celebration vacation we plan to take when we finish paying off debt
And for what? For a coffee that I could make at home, a movie that I don’t need to buy because there are literally thousands to choose from on Netflix, a clothing subscription I don’t need because I can go to the consignment store, a book I don’t need because I have a library card, boots I don’t need because I already have a pair, a hat that I don’t need because I never wear hats during the summer, an air conditioner that I don’t need because we already have two that (mostly) work, and a membership to a grocery store that I can shop at without a membership.
So to those of you who get down on yourselves about spending money you don’t have–I get it. I’ve been there before and I’m still there sometimes. It’s hard work to stick to your goal of paying off debt. It’s hard work to have budget conversations with your spouse. It’s hard work to put most of your paycheck towards mistakes you made 10 years ago. It’s hard, hard, hard. But the payoff will be amazing, and so worth it. Don’t give up.