Without a Reason There’s Always an Excuse

I have a tendency to speak honestly – a little too honestly, probably – when it comes to my urge to motivate people to live better. My heart is in the right place for sure, but I have to work hard at making the words that come out of my mouth match up with the mega-compassion that’s in my heart. This post was born out of that compassion, so please excuse any missteps in the area of overly-bluntness and read through to the motivation that it’s meant to give. ๐Ÿ™‚

This post was born out of Ruth’s post on Metacognition in Personal Finance that she wrote last week. In it, Ruth shares:

“I know that for all of those years when I maintained and deepened our levels of debt, I wasnโ€™t using metacognition at all. I definitely did as Amy did. When times were extra good financially, I felt a giddyย compulsion to spend that extra. I also spent more when things were extra busy. And I spent more when I felt extra anxious about something. I spent more in accordance with bursts of extra love too โ€“ especially when it came to one of our children โ€“ and at times of celebration.”

Oh man, did that paragraph ring a bell with me. As we were growing our debt levels back in suburbia, there was always an excuse to spend – at least for me.

  • Rick got a raise – let’s celebrate!
  • This day sucks – let’s treat ourselves and go out to eat
  • We work hard and deserve a break – let’s go out to eat
  • We spend way less than most people on furniture – let’s buy that new couch

There was always an excuse for spending more than we earned. And they were good excuses! We do work hard. Some days suck and we do need stress relief. We did spend way less than most people in our suburban city. We do deserve to celebrate good things!

But the question we started to ask ourselves as our debt load grew was:

What do we really deserve?ย 

We may deserve that dinner out or that new furniture, but do we deserve the money stressors that followed when we get the credit card bill in the mail?

Do we deserve to give up bigger, long-term financial goals that can change our life so that we can have immediate, not-nearly-as-important treats?

I think not.

It’s time for us to start thinking about what we truly deserve, and to find the BIG reason why we all want so badly to have freedom from debt and financial security. It’s about SO much more than being able to buy “stuff” without a second thought.

The truth isย that our reason, our deep down, bottom-of-the-heart reason for wanting financial freedom is exactly that: for freedom’s sake.ย 

So that we’re not tied to our employer, our mortgage company or our credit card bank holder.

It’s so that we can do what we’re called in our hearts to do without the chain of “having-to-pay-the-bills” holding us back.

I want you to think about that as you contemplate making that next “I deserve” purchase.

I want you to think about putting that money into your “f-u” fund instead of giving it to the coffe shop for that latte’.

You deserve financial freedom more than you deserve those little “extras” that give you short-term satisfaction but promote long-term financial instability. So, go for your BIG dreams, and leave your spur-of-the-moment desires in the dust. ๐Ÿ™‚


*Photo courtesy of Flickr

26 comments on “Without a Reason There’s Always an Excuse

  1. The “I deserve it” mindset is followed by so many. I was guilty of it for many years, but it’s so short sighted. Until you wake up from it you’ll be stuck on that coffee line or waiting for the table to be ready forever.

  2. I used to just buy “stuff” and then it would show up, and half the time I’d think, “why the heck did I even get this?” Those habits are mostly curbed now, because I realize my triggers for buying stuff and trying to get a boost from buying things and I can keep those in check. Yep, sometimes purchases during a crappy day can make me feel better, but they’re short lived and not worth it to me anymore.

    1. That’s a huge part of it, Mr. SSC, realizing your triggers. So many times we buy stuff for purely emotional reasons, and then the emotion is passed but the money is still gone. Long-term thinking and saving can have much bigger rewards than those short-term impulse purchases.

  3. ah yes I did this last month and then wrote about it last week in “your money doesn’t care about you.” You can always find a reason to justify spending if you really want to. Money is just money, but our emotions and our humanness make it difficult to sometimes be rational about money, saving, and spending.

  4. Remembering your reasons, motivation, and bigger financial goals is the key to continuing to turn down opportunities to “treat yourself.” I think the spirit of this post isn’t to look down on anyone for spending money on a particular thing, but to help people think through why they spend, and whether it’s worth it to them. And that is very helpful!

  5. When you start to have breathing room in your finances, this starts to become even more difficult. These days, we’re happy to spend more on food when it means getting to host more friends with better food, but what about that 1-2 times per month convenience food, or should we go on that impromptu vacation or not.

    When you’re not in debt, there isn’t necessarily a right and wrong answer, its just really unclear how we should proceed. Which going back to your first point, is where metacognition comes in.

  6. Shopping used to be a huge emotional outlet for me. I didn’t actually go into debt shopping, but I sure spent a lot of money mindlessly and have lots of regret now. There were far more important things that money could have gone to instead, but I didn’t see that at the time. I still have to watch this, because in the heat of an emotional moment, when everything is going wrong, I do find myself wanting to go eat out or buy something. And I have to remind myself that really won’t make me feel better, not long term, even if it is something I can afford.

  7. Laurie, this is not an “overly-blunt” message at all : ) Your compassion comes through loud and clear. This post reminds me of Galatians 5:1 – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…” How sad that so many of us compromise that freedom with self-imposed indebtedness.

  8. “I totally deserve it!” Wow, how many times in my life have I used that phrase, lol ๐Ÿ™‚ Especially when I was having a bad day. It is tough to break that cycle, that’s for sure. And lets face it, after the impulse, you are left with no money and a pair of shoes you are probably only going to wear once…

  9. This post really hits home with me. For a long time, I had a reason – I was saving money to make a big cross country move. Once I made it, then I realized i was spending money to “fix up my new place” (an RV), and it became much easier to let the money flow out of my wallet. But now that I’m settled, I need to again think of my goals (pay off the RV and car) and also build up again the F-U fund.

    You are so right – it’s so easy to rationalize the spending of money when you don’t have the big goal in mind. Love your blog, by the way – I came across it through Frugal Farmer.

  10. I have a strong desire to go out and spend a hundred grand today. Do I have a hundred grand? Not at the moment. But it sure is fun just thinking about it! In the meantime, I try to find less expensive ways to keep me happy in the meantime. I’d like to go to a nice restaurant for breakfast tomorrow. But I’ll stop at McDonald’s and pick up yummy $1.00 breakfast burrito instead. Delicious. Filling. $1.00. I’ll use another dollar to pick up my weekly lottery ticket. Hey, someone has to win, may as well be me! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. LOL, all kidding aside, that is a great strategy. When we’re craving a dinner out, we’ll often go to the grocery store and make that same dinner at home. I have a great copy cat recipe for Olive Garden’s fettucini alfredo that is super yummy. It conquers the craving for treats and saves money at the same time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Well-written post, Laurie – I’ve definitely missed your motivating posts, so this was timely! I’ve done a bit better with the “I deserve” spending, though there are still times when I’m just running on fumes at the end of the day that I’d choose buying something for dinner over making something. It’s helped to meal plan when I can, though, and to have an overall goals of save, save, save! Hope you’ve been doing well. ๐Ÿ™‚

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