Monday, 23 October 2017
When I find myself somewhat tumbling off the financial wagon and not staying focused, I need something to motivate me to get back onto the wagon. It helps to re-read Dave Ramsey’s classic, The Total Money Makeover, but it is also important to read other authors – other issues, other perspectives, other ideas. So, I’ve been re-reading Lauren Greutman’s book, The Recovering Spender.
I can relate a lot to Lauren – especially when I was younger. I spent money to feel good – for a few minutes. Then the realizations and guilt hit. The truth that I had spent money wasn’t as awful as feeling as if I were a failure in my family’s eyes, especially my mother’s.
I was the “bad” child and that applied to money especially. There were criticisms, some realistic and some unrealistic, about how much I spent on things, such as clothing or eye glasses. My mother’s concepts of the cost of things were caught up in the prices of the 1930s through the 1950s. She forgot that time moves on, and prices of things increase. Rather than ask questions, she would just make comments that didn’t help at all. In later years, once I left home, she could be generous, so I think a lot of her complaints were because she was surrounded by oodles of children she had to raise.
Moving forward, it took awhile to realize that my spending was an addiction, and it was necessary to break that cycle. Part of it came with better income. Part of it came with just being done with the misery of debt and realizing the pain of debt was not worth it. Both my husband and I were in that same addictive cycle, and not good at all in facing our issue as we both tend to avoid confrontation – and thus avoid problem solving. I tend to be more decisive and action-oriented than Mr. 182, so I started making decisions about how we spend our money and what we do with it. He came along unwillingly, but now is much more on board as he sees our progress.
We both see we are in a better place financially than 18 months ago. Our debt ratio has gone down, and our net worth has increased. We have also come to discuss how we value our money – what we want to do with it. Mostly, we want to be done with debt, but we also value saving and spending it on things we enjoy – primarily, our hobbies. For Mr. 182, it is mostly for brewing, but also for rocketry. I vary in what I do, and while I was involved in photography a lot over the past 10 years, I am now returning to watercolor painting and drawing. There is outlay for both hobbies, varying in season as well as how supplies are running. We need to buy things like hops and grain, film, paper, and paint, to name a few. However, while all need to be renewed, the renewal rate varies, and is seldom very expensive all at once. We seldom travel, but those costs are saved for as well.
Leading a satisfying life is largely dependent on what you choose. By this I mean that you must make conscious choices and think about what you value. We value our time to be able to do what we enjoy, and thus we need to plan for those expenses. For example, we have $200 allocated to a grain purchase in November. When I returned to watercolor, I needed to inventory supplies. These were determined as October hobby expenses. Old paints needed replacing, some new brushes purchased, paper, and other small supplies, Once these big expenses are cleared, the replacements will come later, as big cost purchases once or twice a year, or slow ones, such as a tube of paint needing to be replaced if it gets used up.
As Greutman points out in her book, choosing your values and aligning them with your spending makes sense, and it makes you feel much better. It helps prioritize decisions. It returns the locus of control from the external to the internal: “I can’t control myself!” moves to “I can do this!”
Self-control is a form of self-denial, but it doesn’t have a punitive feeling to it. It is freeing emotionally, and given that money is emotional, positive emotions are much more pleasant than unpleasant ones, such as the voice of an angry parent. You are now your own parent. YOU are in charge.