A Confession, of Sorts

Over the last year I have read several studies that discuss how sharing your goals is an easy way to never complete them. Therefore I’m writing this with a bit of hesitation. That being said, I feel I need to come clean.

Several years ago, Cary and I were quite broke. As newlyweds with astronomical student loan debt, some credit card debt and lower paying jobs, we were a mess. And then Cary was unemployed. We realized we had to change the way we viewed money, the way we spent it and the way we saved it.

Dave Ramsey’s program was the most logical option. It’s encouraging and very no-nonsense. I highly recommend it for those with small debt loads that are trying to relieve themselves of a heavy burden even while making a modest income. This program helped us pay down quite a few debts, learn how to budget and prepare for emergencies.

And then our income grew. A lot. We are by no means outside of the middle class but we are considered DINKYs; Double Income No Kids Yet. This is a huge financial advantage over those who have families of 3 or more. The problem is, (and we were taught this in the Dave Ramsey program) when your income grows, you grow into your income.

Time and time again, we said it would never be us. That we would be responsible and continue to budget, pay down our loans, no longer borrow money and be out of debt in 7 years.

That flat out DID NOT HAPPEN, and it’s embarrassing. I used to be the resource that our church sent people to when they needed help with money management. Don’t get me wrong, we still handle our finances well, bills are paid. Our spending is what is out of control. Instant gratification is satisfied on a regular basis.

I had a conversation with a friend about Christmas gifts. She said something like this:

“My mother in law is pretty hard to buy for. So I’m getting her a potato peeler because at Thanksgiving I realized hers sucks! Honestly though, I’m pretty hard to buy for too. If I want something, I pretty much buy it. Instant gratification is my middle name.”

I could totally relate to this. (Also, a potato peeler is an excellent gift in that situation! I bet her MIL was thrilled) If I want Starbucks, I buy Starbucks. If I want Sushi, I grab Sushi. If I’m too lazy to pack my lunch, I go find a healthy option at Whole Paycheck (That’s Whole Foods, for the uninitiated) My spending is completely out of control.

I decided I need a different form of instant gratification. This year, every time I want something, I will have to make a choice. I will ask myself, “Would you rather have this ‘thing’ right now? Or would you rather put that money toward paying something off?” If I choose the latter, I will instantly transfer the amount I would have spent into my savings account. Then I will send that amount toward whatever I am currently trying to pay down/off. Either way I receive the instant gratification sensation. I’m either going to satisfy my craving or desire for that ‘thing’ or I’m going to feel awesome about lightening our burden.

For example, I started this on 1/2/16.

Around noon I had a craving for Mucho Mas, a local Mexican restaurant. Normally I crave their Shrimp Taco which is only around $3.50. That day I wanted their Stacked Enchiladas (mouth is watering as I type this)! Just as I was about to call my order in, I realized what I was doing. I stopped and said “Do you really want that? Or do you want $10 toward your goal?” I wanted the $10, so I made fish and brussel sprouts instead. Not even a reasonable facsimile but it still felt good!

Later that night, a friend invited us over to hang out. It was about 6:30pmnCary wasn’t even home from work yet and I knew we would want to head over as quickly as possible once he arrived. Normally, this would mean ordering pizza and taking it over there because we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, nor had I started cooking dinner. Instead we had leftovers which saved us approximately $25.

This means that just yesterday, I’ve put $35 toward my goal. I also wanted french fries, and didn’t run to a drive thru. That saved me about $2 and I made note of it. Any other small amounts like that will be noted and transferred once it hits around $20.

That’s the plan. I’m hoping that just writing about it doesn’t give me a big enough serotonin boost to prevent me from really getting going on this and completing it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about in this paragraph, Click Here and watch this short Ted talk.

Happy New Year! I hope you have made goals, and remember it’s okay to keep them to yourself!