Home » The Road to Debt Free

Oops, I Did it Again (Almost)!

Submitted by on February 24, 2013 – 12:40 pm 35 Comments

Yeah, I know: the title’s cheesy.  But stick with me here, it’ll be worth it.

For the second time this month (ok, more like the 20th), I contemplated blowing a hole in our budget and going on a family outing in order to deal with the getting-out-of-debt stress.  It all started innocently enough:  We had a great time at a bowling field trip with some homeschool friends, for which my amazing kids promptly saved up enough money in order to cover the bowling and gas costs, knowing that it wasn’t in our budget.

Then we ran a bunch of other errands, one of which included heading to see the tax man.  Good news there too: enough back to cover some extra expenses we’ve had over the last two months, and then 2k on top of that which will establish an emergency fund for us.  We met up with my mom and did some things for her, she took us out to an early dinner, we made a Walmart run and headed home.  A long day, but a good day.

I’m not sure what happened in between Friday and Saturday, but on Saturday I kind of lost it again.  I was once again overwhelmed with the stress of facing up to our debt crater, and Rick was out of town fishing, and I just lost it.  I made up my mind: the budget was going out the window and we were going to blow $50 or so to go to the movies (4 kids, one of which qualifies for an adult ticket, some popcorn and snacks, and it gets expensive.  And no, you can’t go to the movies without buying popcorn.  It’s just against the rules.  :-)).

I looked up which movies we might see, available times, and even checked out the movie review site we used in order to make a final movie decision.

And then I woke up.

Reality hit.  What was I thinking???   We have absolutely no business going to the movies!   We’ve got a crapload of debt, and we’re in no shape to spend that kind of money on frivolous junk we don’t need right now.

And just as soon as it hit, the craving to trash the budget passed.  And that’s when I realized that this process of getting out of debt is going to require us to deal with regular battles……with ourselves.

I guess my point is that if you are contemplating a journey to get out of debt, it’s important that you expect to have to fight with your own will.  Your own cravings.  Your own rebellion.

But if you really want to win the battle to debt free, it’s more important that you win those fights.

Because every time you choose to give in to those rebellious, scared, or overwhelmed feelings it means another month of staying in debt.  And you deserve better.

35 Comments »

  • Bravo for catching yourself. I hope you at least rented a movie and made some popcorn at home. Saving money is rough when you have to say “no” to everything, so hopefully you can find some less expensive paths to the same activities.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Myfij. It was really difficult. In some ways I think this changing your spending habits is comparable to battling an addiction, you know? Yes, we made popcorn and watched a movie at home, one that we already own. Cost more like $3 instead of $50 or more. WHEW!

  • I’m glad you’re getting a tax refund back =)

    And good job on not splurging and blowing your budget! It’s hard to stop sometimes if you get in that frame of mind =)

  • I think you did a good job catching yourself, but sometimes, especially cases like this, you need to live life a little bit. I call them emotional wins.

    • Laurie says:

      I totally agree, Grayson. We do set aside a little bit for fun money, but given our current debtload, along with some more unexpected expenses this month, we really needed to say “no” this time. 🙂

  • I think that the initiative that your children took to save money for bowling is pretty awesome. You’re teaching the next generation that we can’t always just have fun without saving up for it.
    Great job for fighting back that urge. Have some fun money in your budget is really important, it can help to calm these cravings.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Justin. They are SO good that way. No fighting about it or complaining; just bucking up and dealing with the sitation for what it is right now. We do have a bit of fun money in the budget, but I can’t wait till we can have more.

  • You are right…it is a fight. We all have a little kid inside of us that wants to go do all those fun things. When our mind says no, the kid throws a temper tantrum and we give in. Awesome that you took the kid to the woodshed and won that battle!

    • Laurie says:

      Brian, that is such a great analogy!!! That’s exactly what it felt like. I’m so glad I didn’t give in, especially now, b/c we ended up taking a kid to urgent care yesterday and that’s going to take a good $100+ dollars out of our pocket. I think I would’ve felt extra guilty today had I spent that money on the movies.

  • Way to catch yourself! You’re going to have to fight that battle over and over until you break that habit!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Robert! Yes, I am learning this now. I don’t know why I didn’t expect it at the get-go. During month one we were on such a high that I didn’t even consider spending money. I had other mind battles of discouragement and such, but not like this one. Now the honeymoon stage is over and reality is setting in, I suppose. 🙂

  • AverageJoe says:

    Hey, I see what you did there! You DO deserve better. I had a coach once ask me if I wanted to spend money and feel good “pretend” or experience the true feeling of my crushing situation. While it’s easy to “pretend” it’s more empowering to feel the weight of where you are right now.

    Another great piece.

    • Laurie says:

      Wow, Joe, what a wise coach!!!! Isn’t it the truth? We get so caught up in our immediate gratification that we totally deny the long-term consequences. I had another chance to blow our budget yesterday and it was much easier to say “no” this time. Not the fun choice, but the best choice.

  • Great way to catch yourself Laurie! Our minds and our emotions can certainly play tricks on us as we pay off debt to revert to old patterns. Recognizing this is a HUGE (in my opinion)victory as many still do not notice it. Glad to see that you also have some fun money set aside, that is a big way to help you progress on your debt path.

  • I agree with Robert–well done on catching this one; it will certainly help you in the future to have this habit of “checking yourself” in place. When I was paying off my own mountain of debt, I was always tempted!!

    • Laurie says:

      It’s good to hear that it’s normal to feel this way. After so many years of just buying what I wanted, I guess I wasn’t prepared emotionally for the word “no” :-).

  • Great job Laurie! I know prior to this situation either one of us may not have given it a second thought, but now that you watch your spending on everything you knew that it just wasn’t going to work out. We just need to keep reminding ourselves that our current situation won’t last forever, but at the same time, once we our out of debt, we will still make better spending decisions then we did before. Have a great week!!

    • Laurie says:

      I agree, Sicorra. Big party for both of our families one day, that’s for sure. Then it’s on to more of the same, only for the purpose of saving and investing. Can’t wait! 🙂

  • Pauline says:

    I love that the kids have to save up for unexpected treats, it helps everyone realize how special they should be, not granted.

  • Excellent post Laurie! Kudos to you for recognizing your own rebellion and not caving in. Getting our debt is hard work, but I’m confident you’ll be able to do it and enjoy the financial freedom that follows. That is also awesome that your kids saved for the bowling trip. Love it!!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks Shannon. I’m confident too. These first few months will be difficult, I know, but eventually I know we’ll see real changes in our numbers and that will keep us going. 🙂

  • Good for you. It’s so easy to get caught up and make little “mistakes” that have longer term consequences. You absolutely deserve better!

  • Jose says:

    It’s all about discipline and an iron will! I have these battles periodically with myself (Usually about tools) but lately, I’ve been able to win out by asking myself a simple question. Is it something i NEED or something I WANT. It’s usually something i want and that helps me “kill” the temptation.

  • Good call on the holding back, Laurie. It’s really tough when we are loaded with debt. We want to celebrate once in awhile (and we should), but at the same time the celebrating got us in this mess to begin with!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I certainly don’t think it’s bad to go on an outing to the movies, but you certainly did the right thing because this was an impulse move. Anything that comes on that fast needs to be analyzed and determined to meet your criteria for spending money. In this case you were able to find a better alternative. It gets easier as you get further along. Do they have dollar movies where you live? And I have put home made popcorn and drink boxes in my purse to go to the movies. Maybe not as good as movie popcorn, but certainly cheaper and not as fattening.

    • Laurie says:

      You are so right, Kim! That was the part that scared me the most: the impulsiveness of it all. Plus, our DTI really is high right now, so although I’m not opposed to going to the movies, I am opposed to it until we get more debt paid off. :-).

  • Keren says:

    I’ve been catching myself a lot lately. That is even scarier because how much was I really spending BEFORE I started catching myself? ugh….

    • Laurie says:

      Oh, Keren – yes, that sounds JUST like me. It’s amazing how much money you can spend when you think you’re not spending much. 🙂

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