Scott and I have been on our debt-free journey for three years now and let me just tell you, it downright sucks at times to not be able to treat ourselves. Lately, the last three years have felt like three decades. We are on the cusp of summer and, this year, my family isn’t going anywhere on vacation. We aren’t going to the beach. We aren’t going to Disneyworld. We aren’t going on a cruise. Hell, we aren’t even going to Kentucky Kingdom. Well, maybe we are (I really do want to take Baby Noah to Hurricane Bay or whatever it’s called now, but this would entail missing AT LEAST two naps, so I don’t know if I’m up for that kind of craziness). Naturally, it seems like everyone except for us is getting to go somewhere amazing this summer.
In my last post I talked about how comparison culture drives us to spend money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. Emotional spending derails our personal financial security and, if you throw a credit card in the mix, you are just asking for trouble. There’s another concept that I want to touch on, a four-letter acronym called “FOMO.” FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. Not only do we compare our lives to everyone else’s highlight reel on social media, but we also get a bad case of FOMO if we aren’t hyper-aware of our emotions when scrolling through our news feed. The next time you get FOMO, ask yourself if you feel like you’re missing out on those credit card or car payments. I bet you’ll say to yourself “hell no!”
When you are working towards paying off debt, you can catch FOMO as easily and quickly as you can catch a cold. Lately, I have had a bad case of FOMO. Scott and I don’t have it in the budget to go here, go there, eat at this expensive hipster restaurant, buy this new gadget, buy this cute thing for the house, etc. So lately, I have been guilty of comparing my life to everyone else’s and it has made me feel like a victim. Well, I’m here to tell you that I am NOT a victim. I have control even though we are on this insane debt-free journey. So, in the month of June, I am treating myself like Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle from Parks and Recreation like to treat themselves.
This month we budgeted for me to get a gel manicure and spa pedicure to the tune of $72 after tip. Maybe I’m just a frugal weirdo, to quote the Frugalwoods (you HAVE to check out their blog), but I cannot believe how expensive a mani-pedi costs these days. Also, we budgeted for me to get the most frivolous thing I can think of: hair extensions! I refuse to tell you how much they cost because it’s just straight-up embarrassing. But I am so excited! Are they expensive as hell? You bet your @$$ they are! But I just don’t give a damn. I’m treating myself. And, I am paying cash for them because they are in the budget, so it’s okay!
Treating yourself isn’t just an okay idea. It is highly recommended if you are living on a budget and trying to get out of debt or save money. You have to build “fun money” into your written plan (aka your budget) because, otherwise, you will end up feeling like you are missing out. You will feel deprived and that will lead you to binge spend. By the way…have you downloaded the EveryDollar budgeting app yet? It is seriously so intuitive, not to mention FREE! It is available in Google Play for Android devices and the App Store for Apple devices.
Learn from my mistakes and build fun money into your budget this summer. If you don’t, I will tell you what is going to happen. You are going to binge spend. Binge spending is, for example, when you drop 400 dinero on a pair of Frye boots like I once did. Don’t get me wrong, they are absolutely gorgeous but if I hadn’t been suffering from FOMO, I definitely would have shopped around and looked for a better price on boots. But I made an irrational decision. Human beings are not rational economic actors despite what the great philosopher Adam Smith believed. Granted, it’s hard to beat the quality of a Frye boot, but it was out of character for me to blow that kind of money. (Just between us, I’m not sorry I spent that money because I freaking love my boots!)
When our life gets out of balance, we can sometimes make decisions that are out of character for us. My point is that if you simply budget for fun things – and pay cash for them – you can buy the things! If you don’t plan for fun money, you will spend it anyway. So, you might as well plan for it. Doing so will free you up to spend that money without guilt or stress.
If it isn’t in the budget, you have to say no. You have to say no to yourself and to others. For some of you, saying no is almost impossible. It is really hard to say no to our family and friends when they invite us to do things with them because we want to do them, but we can’t always pay cash for these types of things. If it’s in your budget that means you can pay cash for it. If you can pay cash for it, then by all means, say yes! If you are going to put it on a credit card, then you need to say no, because credit cards are the bane of our existence. We have been brainwashed by the credit card companies and by FICO to believe it’s a smart thing to have a credit card, but that’s a load of crap and a whole other topic that I will touch on later.
If saying no is something you struggle with, I recommend you practice saying this little two-letter word in your everyday life. For instance, if you are at a restaurant and your server asks if you would like to see the dessert menu, practice saying no to him or her. No, thank you. No, I can’t buy LipSense lip gloss. No, as much as I would love to, I just can’t come to your destination wedding. No, I can’t go on a European river cruise with you. No, I can’t go out to lunch today. No, I can’t go out for drinks after work. No, no, no! When I was a kid I remember my mom telling me no and then asking me, “what part of the word ‘no’ don’t you understand, Amanda? The ‘n’ or the ‘o’?” The answer is no!
The moral of this story is simple: treat yo’ self while living on a budget or you will go insane. Budget for fun every single month – and pay cash for it – or else you will lose your shit and spend $400 on boots. Or worse, you will put hair extensions on a credit card. Striking a balance is essential when you are trying to get out of debt. It takes people years to become debt-free, so you have to enjoy your life while you are going through this process, which can feel really daunting at times. I implore you to treat yo’ self this summer as long as you can pay cash for whatever it is that you want!