Rationalizing Wants

I’ve posted before about wanting to be debt free. We’re working towards that goal, but if I’m being honest, we’re not working nearly as hard as we could be. We both still make excuses for why we have to spend this or that. We rationalize our choices to spend money on items we don’t need, but that we want.

“It’s okay that I’m spending more than we budgeted because these will last for a long enough time!”

“it’s okay that I’m over on our food budget because we bought a lot of fresh produce, and that’s healthy!”

“It’s okay that I bought new kitchen rags because some of ours are wearing thin, and they were cheap!”

It’s so easy to make mistakes when you make excuses and rationalizations. It is one of the things that I do the most. In fact, I did it yesterday and today.

We’ve been setting a food budget of $400 per month, so roughly $100 per week for the two of us, and that’s all of our meals because we don’t purchase lunches and we both eat breakfast 7 days a week. This week, we spent just over that budget. I rationalized it because we got a TON of fresh produce, and we bought items that will last for a few months, if not longer. But even though those items are good for us, and some of them will last for a long time, we still went over our budget. Luckily, we will be okay with the budget that we’ve set, because it will even out, but what if we weren’t okay? What if we would end up being short on money/food for a future week because we spent over our budget this week?

I think I’ve mentioned before, but I’m the spender out of the two of us. I’m also really great at coming up with a rationalization for whatever I want to buy. Today was a perfect example of this, and it’s why I was prompted to write this blog post, actually.

My sister is getting married later this year, and my mom asked her and I if we wanted to go shopping to a few stores today, with the main purpose being to look for some wedding flowers. I said sure, because mom and sister time is pretty awesome, and I said to myself that I did not need to buy anything I didn’t need. I knew that at Costco I needed to pick up some Better Than Bouillon because we were out (and we love that stuff), and that I wanted to get some almond butter granola cups (it’s not something that I eat all the time, but I like them for something quick if I need them). I also knew that I wanted to look for something for a DIY, but only if they had it cheap enough (they did not).

Well, we went to Tuesday Morning, and $50 later, I had stuff I didn’t need in my possession. Two dog toys, one set of poop bags, a Valentine’s Day card for my husband, a desk organizer, a hole punch, a Happy Planner sticker book (a duplicate of one I have), and some DECORATED paper clips (WHO AM I!?), and I was out $50. Were the items badly priced? Absolutely not! $5.99 for a sticker book that is $19.99 if not on sale? Awesome price! But I didn’t need it. At all.

I justified everything by how cheap it was. Out of those purchases, we really only needed the poop bags. Kalen and I don’t typically exchange cards. I could use the organizer, but didn’t need it. Molly didn’t need two new toys. I definitely didn’t need stickers or paper clips or a hole punch.

Two friends of mine recently introduced me to Choose FI and I’ve been listening to their podcast since (if you want to listen, I’d recommend that you start with THIS ONE and then THIS ONE, and then go back to episode 1). They have laid it out in a way that, honestly, I think is doable by everyone. I don’t like everything about Dave Ramsey’s approach, but I understand that it does work. But between Choose FI and my first love, Mr. Money Mustache (he’s who prompted Kalen to get serious about saving), I feel like the path to financial independence is 100% attainable. My only hurdle? Myself.

I rationalize the items that I want, but don’t need, because why not? Why not have that new sticker book or the yarn that’s on sale? Why not buy the new home decor, even though ours is perfectly fine?

The answer is simple, really. If I buy everything I want in that moment, I won’t have the things I want for the rest of my life. I love my job, but I’d love to be able to be home, to create, to cook, to garden, to ride my bike. I’d love to be able to take extended trips, or float in a pool. I’d love to be able to help others because I know I’m able to do so without hurting myself. I don’t want to spend my life working, and then retire when I’m too old to enjoy my time off. I want to retire sooner. I want to be debt free. I want to teach future children how to be financially independent. I want to be free.

I want those things more than I want decorated paper clips and hole punches. So now, I’m going to have to rationalize those fleeting wants against my long term wants. Are they worth an extra year of working? Are they worth an extra month of being tied to my desk? Are they worth an extra two years of stress?

No, they are not.

xoxo, Amber

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