The Budget Hangover

Did You Overspend?

That uncomfortable feeling in your stomach. The pounding in your head. The sinking feeling that you went overboard.

I’m not talking about getting drunk and waking up hungover. I’m talking about waking up after the week long extravaganza we call Black Friday and Cyber Monday and realizing that you spent too much and blew your budget.

Resisting temptation has become harder than ever. Online ads and marketing are better than ever due to data mining and targeted promotions. The stores know what YOU want and they market directly towards that. We have all spent weeks and weeks with advertisers pinpointing our weak points and showing us ads and sending emails to get us to weaken our resolve.
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Why I Don’t Recommend No-Spend Days

No-Spend Days? Why They Don’t Work

What is a No-Spend Day?

 

No-spend days or spending fasts are times when you make a promise to yourself not to spend money on certain days or certain periods of time.

There are some people who find these to be very effective.

Case in Point:

A Year of Tracking No Spend Days (and the privilege of doing so) by Tread Lightly, Retire Early

How I Bought No Clothes For Over A Year & Lessons From My Clothing Ban by M @Radical Fire

If you have tried these and they work for you then great!

But here is why I advise NOT to do a spending diet.

Using Motivation To Help You Change

We like to think that making big, bold moves will help us. We like to imagine ourselves doing a complete overhaul of our lives within days. TODAY I will change. TODAY I will become the person I want to be. I will become more organized, on top of my finances, more mindful, a better person etc. We want to be all those things and we WANT IT NOW! We usually feel like this after a particularly motivating experience. A motivating experience can either be something positive or negative that convinces us that we must change our behavior. The problem with motivational experiences is that they give us a temporary “high”. We get all gung-ho to change and improve but then the high wears off, we face an obstacle, we fail at what we are doing and we give up.

Motivation is temporary. As Zig Ziglar so famously said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing-that’s why we recommend it daily”. Its a good quote and true on many levels. The problem is that unlike bathing we can’t just jump in the shower every time we need a good dose of motivation. It has to come from somewhere and sometimes even our trusty sources of motivation let us down.

Motivation is like a shower that only works sometimes, when we least expect it and sometimes the water is cold and sometimes the water doesn’t come at all- even if we are standing and screaming at the shower head. So the metaphor doesn’t totally track but the point is that motivation wear off and then you are left with what exactly? The high is gone, the purpose is gone-we are only left with the actions that we have taken so far.

Have You Ever Physically Fasted?


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Life Happens

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Disaster Averted

My stove broke. We had a technician out to check out gas line and he discovered an issue with our gas line and where it connects to our stove. Since we rent, the gas line is our landlords problem (thank goodness!) but the stove is ours so we are on the hook for the expenses to the actual stove. I’m pretty grateful that this was caught because its pretty scary to think that we may have used the stove without realizing there was a gas issue. For now, we can’t use the stove until its resolved and we are not sure how much it will cost yet. A technician is supposed to come tomorrow. Meanwhile, we are stove-less.

 

Luckily we have an Emergency Fund!

This is what the emergency fund is for! This is pretty much the definition of an emergency: we can’t push this off (We need our stove to cook especially since the High Holidays are coming up pretty quickly), we can’t skimp on the repairs and we can’t DIY since the gas company will need a licensed and insured technician to sign off on the appropriate repairs.

Should I have Budgeted for this?

There has been discussion about the importance of an Emergency Fund. Someone on Twitter mentioned that its these types of situations that turn people off from having a fully-funded Emergency Fund as a goal. Its better to have budgeted for this situation in the first place.

I disagree. Fact is, you can’t really budget for every eventuality. If we did have an appliance repair line item in our budget- we would have maxed it out a while ago as for some reason all our appliances are needing major repairs this year. I don’t really see the point in budgeting for so many different eventualities. The amount of money you are putting away is the same- the numbers don’t change just because you have more things to budget for. You have a specific amount of money that needs to be divided up into your budget categories. That specific amount does not get bigger just because your budget items do. If you get bogged down with too many categories and line items and envelopes and funds- that is what gets you discouraged. How can you keep up with that? How can you even keep track?

Introducing the “Life Happens Fund”

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