When I was still in debt, every dollar mattered. You’ve probably read about how I once spent 10 minutes deciding whether or not to get a Redbox movie. Not because I wasn’t sure what movie to get, but because I wasn’t sure if it was worth $1.
After I became debt free, my then-fiance and I combined our finances. We knew we’d be quitting our jobs to be self-employed and moving across the country later that year so we squirreled away every dollar for an emergency fund and moving expenses.
Now that it’s been almost a year since we’ve been self-employed, I’ve gotten lazy about my finances. I still track our spending, contribute to a retirement account and keep a budget. But I’ve started justifying pricey expenses more.
Here’s a story: I went to Target yesterday to get a baby gate for our new puppy, who has learned how to reach the shelves in our pantry. While at Target, I started to browse the back-to-school section. I love all things back-to-school. I love the locker accessories, the new pens that have come out and the awesome storage solutions they sell to college students.
I’m actually kind of addicted to office supplies and have a slew of pens and notebooks at my home and my parent’s house – some that I bought years ago and still haven’t used.
When I got to the notebook section, I started flipping through the planners. I’m obsessed with my planner – it’s the only way I can stay on top of all my freelance assignments and my personal errands. Right now I have a planner that’s absolutely beautiful – it has gold accents, a bright rainbow cover and inspirational sayings on every page. It also cost almost $60.
What?? $60 on a planner? Are you insane?
That’s probably what my pre-debt free self would have said. That girl loved her planners too, but she only spent $20 on hers and that was for a Moleskine planner she treasured.
So what happened? What made me change from the girl who spent weeks deciding on a $20 planner to get a girl who buys a $60 one? More money happened. I felt like since I could afford the planner and I loved it, it wasn’t a big deal to buy it. I could also deduct the purchase as a business expense, which made it even easier to buy.
So lately I’ve been trying to change my mindset from I-can-afford-anything to the indebted 24 year-old I once was. While at Target, I spotted a $9.99 planner that seemed to fit my two requirements – spiral bound and a weekly outline. I looked it over for a few minutes and decided to get it.
Since this purchase, I’ve been rethinking my shopping philosophy. Constraint breeds creativity. If I had only $10 to spend on a planner, I’d spend more time shopping for one than if I had $60. But when you lose that constraint, you often forget about being creative.
I’ve always struggled with spending too much and not searching for the cheapest option. When I was in school, I begged my mom to buy me expensive notebooks instead of the cheap spiral ones. I told her that nicer notebooks would inspire me to study more. I know now (and probably knew then) that it’s bullshit. A nicer notebook did not force me to study for a test more than 24 hours before. In fact, our class valedictorian had the cheap notebooks and they clearly didn’t stop her from getting a perfect score on the SAT.
We all make excuses when it comes to money – why we can’t save more, why you can’t pay off debt early, why you can’t afford to travel. When my story about paying off my student loans in three years went viral, I heard from tons of people about why they couldn’t replicate my success. Guess what? Most of what they said were lame, bullshit excuses.
That’s the difference – you can either find ways to achieve your goals or you can make excuses. Which will you choose?
What money excuses have you made?