When I finally made the decision to try and tackle my finances, after my roaring 20s of pure excess, the concept behind financial freedom sounded incredibly simplistic:
Just don’t spend money.
That’s it. I didn’t have to *do* anything. I didn’t have to go to the gym, or set up a writing schedule, or try and find a good kickboxing class. No, all I had to do was just stop spending money.
I live in a big apartment complex, which means we’re always getting these random takeout menus tacked to our doors. I spent tonight perusing a very tasty-looking Chinese menu before throwing it away.
What I hate about control over finances is the same thing that I hate about control over my diet. It’s that you have to make the right choice time after time after time, multiple times every day.
I went out to write at Caribou Coffee tonight, and had to force myself to bypass Chipotle on the way home. I had to remind myself of all the groceries I just bought today. As I passed The Cheesecake Factory I reminded myself that I’d already gotten a piece of their low carb cheesecake last week to bring home, and July’s budget does not have wiggle room for *more* cheesecake. Then I had to come home and peruse the Chinese takeout menu, and then remind myself of how awful I feel after trying to inhale Papa John’s pizza.
In fact, diet choices and financial choices are linked pretty heavily for me. If I’m not splurging on lunch or dinner out, then I’m getting a book, or a magazine, or out at a movie, or the comedy club, or trying to find clothes that don’t make me look like Raggedy Anne.
I was raised by very impulsive parents; it’s gotten them into a lot of trouble too. But it means that budgeting and delayed gratification are really foreign to me. When I come into cash, I feel I “deserve” to spend it. I need to “treat” myself. Well, you know, sure, one “treat” is great, but four or six weeks of treats and you’ve blown all the money and you’re right back where you started with not much to show for it.
I sat down and put together my post-raise budget today, and in big, bold letters across the top it reads, “Budgetry, or how Kameron is going to get a house and go to Peru.”
And that’s the mantra I’m trying to bring to every one of my decisions now. I need something to keep me on track. I need constant motivation, because it’s just not going to happen on its own. Like anything else, I have to retrain myself, and just like training yourself to workout regularly, there’s this awful, painful adjustment period where you feel utterly deprived.
I hate it.
I want to go out, and have fun, and live, because dammit, life is fucking short.
But I’m really fucking tired of being in credit card debt. I’m done with it.
So which one wins out?
That’s the battle I fight with every one of my stupid daily decisions. I now have $750 a month budgeted toward paying off that fucking credit card (starting in August). That’s more than my current rent and utilities combined.
Imagine what I can do when I free that $750 back up? Think about it.
That’s what I’m thinking about.
And it’s what I’ll be thinking about when I’m eating my hot dogs and leftovers from last night’s BBQ tonight.