Friday, July 21, 2006

Redefine your scope of excuses

"Well I could have..."
"At least I didn't..."
"Well THEY..."
"It could have been worse..."
"Next time..."
"They just..."
"If I don't..."
"Just as well..."
"I'll miss out..."

Rationalize and Minimize...

This is one of those behavior things in dealing with finances. We are often telling ourselves things to make us feel better. Anything to get past the nagging feeling that we can't afford something. Anything to forget we are already in debt. Anything to lose sight of the fact the car payment is due in five days. We tell ourselves "things" so that we don't feel bad when we put our items on the checkout counter.

It's not even that we feel like we deserve it. Except for an occasional ice cream cone we don't feel like we deserve it... we feel like WE HAVE TO BUY THIS RIGHT NOW OR ELSE...

Here is how it works... listen to yourself and see what you hear:
"Well, these shoes just cost $75, at least I didn't spend $150." Minimize.
"I haven't bought a new pair of slacks in months." Rationalize.
"I only spent $50 today, last time I went shopping I spent $200." Minimize.
(Side note: It doesn't matter if you spend five dollars. If you are in debt or struggle to pay the bills then you don't NEED to be spending it.)
"I got this on sale for $40 off." Rationalize.
"If I don't buy this today they might run out." Rationalize

It's never about your intentions, it's about your actions.
It's not about what you tell yourself.
It's not about what you tell others.
It's not about how you feel when you do it.
It's not about how you hope it will make you feel.

At the end of the day it's about being responsible for hundreds of little spending decisions that you make every day.

Now, I realize this is not easy. Can compulsion be cured by reading a blog.... Nope. Can a lifetime of excuses stop today. Well, maybe, but probably not.

So, how do you stop rationalizing and minimizing? (There are usually two sides of these things- the cognitive and the practical.)

In life, as you work on correcting a vice, you'll find that just WANTING to fix it goes a long way. Whenever you are buying something just think about how you feel right then. Think about how you will feel about that puchase later that day. The more you think about your spending decisions the more your mind will help you make the right ones. You won't even WANT to spend crazy money anymore.

Whenever you are buying anything think about the bills you have coming due.

The thing you always read in personal finance articles is something like-- "Remember that vacation you want to take and then make that spending decision." HA! You are going to take that vacation if you have to donate a kidney to do it. What you need to think about is how freakin stressed out you are going to be when all your bills start showing up next week.

A new pair of shoes is no fun when the money to pay your electric bill is sitting on your closet floor.

No one ever feels bad about something they bought two weeks ago... they feel bad that they are stressed out over their credit cards. If you can connect those dots then your emotions can work in your favor instead of against you.


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