May 18 2009

Why I wanna spend: Daunted by my next goal

First off, I want to apologize if my last post came across as, “We have lots of money now! But I don’t want to spend it! Woe is me!” Because that’s not how I intended it.

I do realize that having a few extra bucks each month to do whatever we want with is a good problem to have. And I don’t want to be insensitive to those who are scraping by, working on debt, dealing with foreclosure, big medical bills, etc.

I just want to recognize that as soon as I became debt-free, I temporarily lost some momentum.

Last night while I was thinking about our next big financial goal — saving up for a house — I think I realized why I have a big urge to spend money right now:

Our next goal is huge. So big, that it’s really going to take awhile. So big, that I cannot see the end yet. So big, that if we want to reach it soonish, we won’t be able to spend a lot of money frivolously. 

So rather than save every dollar I find for the house fund, I think I was briefly tempted to just say, “Forget it!” for now. “Let’s take a break from being responsible and have some fun already!”

And maybe we still can. As I mentioned previously, maybe we can set aside a small amount of money and just have fun with it. Maybe I can get a frou-frou coffee from Starbucks a few times per month and not think twice about it. Maybe we can get a Wii and a Wii Fit. 

If we do that, we need to set boundaries. We can’t get a big flat-screened TV on which to play our Wii, and we can’t get a new couch to put in front of that TV.

But rather than think, “Darn! I want all of those things and I’m going to pout because I can’t have them,” I’m going to focus on what we do have and what we can acheive.

9 Responses to “Why I wanna spend: Daunted by my next goal”

  1. Like you, we have a little more breathing room now. It’s changed our entire outlook on life from “we could never” to knowing things are possible. Money is a touchy subject these days. You can only make it “do what it do.” You get a little relaxation after a long time of being sensible and cautious. I say do what you want. If you need a break, take it! Congrats to you on all the blessings!

  2. I don’t think your last post came across that way. Having no debt is a freedom, and you’re allowed a little time to enjoy the possibilities of your current and future wealth!

    You’re right that having money in the bank is a bit dangerous, especially as you start building some wealth. Suddenly, you think, “hey, that fancy new (insert new gadget or toy here) is so much better than my old one, and it will hardly make a dent in our savings.” Sure, it’s better than charging it, but it becomes really important to prioritize what you want and make sure it’s worth withdrawing the money.

    We handle this by setting up a new ING account whenever we want to make a big purchase. Yes, we bought a new flat-screen TV last year, but we set aside a little bit of money each week until we actually “earned it.” It actually made the purchase SO MUCH more exciting when we actually found the one we wanted and bought it, because of the anticipation!

    I think I pretty much repeated what you said, but I think you’re on the right track!

  3. Kacie – I can totally relate to this post! We went through the exact same emotions after we refinanced our house and had extra money each month. After spending a couple of months eating out waaaay too much, we finally buckled down and started saving again.

    The key to this whole process is to remember that it doesn’t have to be ALL or nothing. You can take that money you were spending on the car and put most of it toward the house, but leave yourselves a little spending money to have some fun, too. If you don’t give yourself a little fun money, you’ll be overwhelmed and it will just be that much harder to save toward your goal!

  4. It is tempting to spend when you realize you have the money! A little celebration is in order, I think, but then it’s time to move on to the next goal. We found that moving on to the next goal was much easier if we rewarded ourselves first.

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  6. I don’t think your post had any negative connotations at all.

    I think — on that day oh so long into the future — when we finally get this debt off the books, we’re going to feel overwhelmed too.

    When you’re scrimping to pay down debt, you put off unnecessary stuff. Once the debt is gone, you have all these “wants” clamboring for your attention. It’s hard to prioritize them.

    For example, when that magical day comes, we could indulge ourselves with a much nicer, somewhat bigger TV since it’s a main source of entertainment. Then again, we should start saving for a car. And my husband will be urging a move to a place where we can get a dog… The whole thing makes my head hurt, frankly.

    We all spend so long defining ourselves by the debt we are getting rid of, I think a lot of PF bloggers feel, at least initially, a loss of self when debt is repaid. It passes, of course, because our self-definitions are constantly evolving. So we do latch on to new goals, projects and other ways of delineating who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. But that brief time in a vacuum will probably terrify the bejeezus out of me.

  7. I agree with the other comments. Your post was not negative at all. I would give myself a big toast, congratulate myself, and then move on to the next financial goals. – I think this is similar to my marathon running. I view each marathon as an accomplishment, but I need to take a little break after each race before I prepare for the next one. This has worked very well for me.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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