Feb 6, 2013
At the same time, I spend money constantly, without really thinking about it. For me, this is mainly a problem at the grocery store— I eat an organic, gluten-free diet, and while it is very important to me it isn't cheap. Sure, I think about cash flow and debt on the weekends or when I'm scheming to get out of it. But it is second nature for me to simply put what I want in the cart and "pay" with plastic. I don't add up my total as I go, and I don't pay much attention to prices.
I got my first credit card while in college. I think I got a free candy bar for filling out the application. I'm pretty sure I only did it for the candy bar (in retrospect, that was the most expensive candy bar in the history of the world). From that moment, I stopped having to count my pennies before a purchase. I didn't need to have the money to cover it, because I could just pay for it later...and, of course, I could always come up with a way to pay for it later, right? Wrong. It only got worse after college, when I got poorly paying jobs that fit my values. And that would have been fine had I made wise financial decisions. I have no doubt I could have lived on what I made. But if I didn't have to, why bother?
By the time I figured all of this out, my habits had been formed and I owed a whole bunch of money to the ugly banks attached to my credit cards. The thing is, the interest I pay on those cards is feeding the inhumane system I described earlier that I abhor so much. I've known this for years, but a habit is a hard thing to break.
We started a new budget this month. It's not going perfectly, but I am thinking about it a lot more every day. I just have to keep reminding myself that I could either purchase something now that would give me instant gratification, or pay off a few more dollars of debt and be out from under the weight of it just a little sooner. Some days, instant gratification wins out. But more and more, I'm not only valuing debt repayment with my mind but with my dollars too. I hope that within a month or two I'll have some new habits. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?
Do you have trouble sticking to your budget? Do you have any tricks to share that work for you?