If you’re like me, most of your purchases consist of necessities: housing, transportation, food. Those feel good because they mean I’m caring for my loved ones. Even the fun expenditures are meaningful because they’re intentional and create memories. But every month as I look over my spending, I notice silly purchases that add little or no value to my life or that of my family. Here are some dumb reasons I spend money and how I plan to fix it.
Dumb Reasons I Spend Money And How I Plan to Fix It
Photo credit Jp Valery
The first few dumb reasons I spend money fall under the category of emotional spending.
We don’t buy items, we buy feelings.Paula Pant @ AffordAnything
We human types often spend money when we’re stressed, bored, or unhappy. It’s a way of self-medicating and trying to feel better, to manage uncomfortable emotions.
I suppose an element of mom guilt is inevitable in our culture so I’m not alone in experiencing it from time to time. But it’s made worse by divorce. I sometimes find myself saying yes to outlays of cash in an attempt to assuage inappropriate feelings of guilt. I’d be better served (so would my kids) by observing and questioning these feelings.
This is when I spend money for the ideal Carrie who lives in my mind, the person I aspire to be, instead of the real Carrie living in my current circumstances. The ideal Carrie grows food and has beautiful flowers decorating her yard. The real Carrie (usually) remembers to water her houseplants and can barely keep the grass cut to a respectable height.
These tomatoes taste like candied sunshine, so this expenditure was worth it.
I do well with low-maintenance indoor plants. Seeing them around the house makes me happy, so these purchases are totally worth it. What I won’t be showing you is the unkempt front garden overgrown with weeds and dead flowers. Next spring, I won’t be spending money on flowers because I know I don’t have time or energy in this season of life to care for them.
How often have I bought new makeup, skincare, or clothing I didn’t need, because I was feeling unattractive? Way too often. (I remind myself often that “unattractive” is not a feeling. The emotion is shame. And it’s a sneaky, dirty B, that’s for sure!)
Instead of spending money when I have this feeling, I can sit with the discomfort, journal about it, question it. I can pour into my relationships. I can use the tools I learn in actual therapy instead of mindlessly resorting to retail therapy. I can exercise and take care of my body and feel grateful for how well it works, instead of fussing about how it looks.
What emotions make you want to spend money? Knowing what your triggers are is crucial.
Pain and fatigue
Last week, the $25 I spent on delivery pizza was a major fail, mostly because the pizza was not even tasty! The reason I succumbed to the temptation instead of rustlin’ up some grub was because I was exhausted and in pain.
Because I know that I will have episodes of exhaustion and pain, I need to plan for this reality by keeping a few stupid-simple dinners in the freezer, courtesy of our monthly trip to Trader Joe’s. A $5 bag of Szechuan chicken isn’t as cheap or healthy as homemade, but it’s cheaper and healthier than delivery pizza, and is a great example of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. This brings me to my next point.
Failure to plan
Meal planning before grocery shopping. Grabbing a snack and water bottle before embarking on errands with the kids. Keeping a list of clothing items the kids will need for an upcoming season/growth spurt and looking at it before thrift shopping. All these things help me avoid wasting money, because they involve planning ahead and being intentional.
What are some tricky ways you spend money? I’d love to hear how you overcome your personal budget busters in the comments.