You have been on a savings plan and it is going well. You have stuck to your monthly budget. Then you say to yourself: “You know, I work really hard. I should treat myself.” So you splurge on food, shopping, beer or whatever else. All this because a client’s cheque came early.
If this is you, you are most certainly suffering from money excuses. While it is okay to enjoy the money you have worked for, you will often find yourself going overboard.
Here are the most common money excuses and what you can do to overcome them.
I work hard and I deserve to spend
While it is true that you deserve to reward yourself, there’s a difference between wanting something and being able to afford it.
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You will often feel the need to spend your hard earned cash and disregard your budget. After all, it’s not like your income automatically expands proportionally to how difficult work has been lately. Your budget trumps how you feel about the stress your work brings you.
What to do: Give yourself an end-of-the-month splurge budget. This allows you to reward yourself for your hard work, but within your means. This also keeps those feelings of entitlement in check.
Also take the time to learn about minimalism or more importantly, essentialism which teaches to get “less but better.”
But I’m getting that raise/bonus soon
This is a sneakier and more persuasive version of the first excuse. In this excuse lies the promise of money that awaits, whether a commission, bonus, raise or even a new job salary. It’s certain, right? At least 90, if not 99, per cent.
Worse than spending money you don’t have, is spending money you don’t have yet. In reality, it’s the same thing.
Life is unpredictable, and anything can happen. The cheque could delay yet you used your rent money to buy a new phone.
What to do: Don’t pull any triggers until the money hits your account. Until it does, you simply don’t have that money. Or in the words of billionaire rapper Jay-Z “you can’t afford something unless you can buy it twice.” Words to live by.
Everyone else is spending, why shouldn’t I?
Peer pressure doesn’t go away after high school. It lingers throughout adult life. You find yourself in social situations where you are in a restaurant with friends.
They have bought drinks and it looks awkward that you are the only one without any. So you buy yourself that Sh800 glass of wine, money you would have saved or spent on something better.
What to do: A great way to avoid this is by spending time with people who share your values. And by values, this means they also enjoy drinking bottles of wine that cost Sh800 and not just glasses of it. In situations like weddings, birthdays and baby showers, pre-plan a budget for these occasions for the year, and stick to it.
Be creative about how you can repurpose or borrow dresses and accessories. It’s not about deprivation, it’s about shifting focus to what’s more important—the very reason for the celebration.
But I’ve already been doing badly
This is the equally toxic cousin to “but I’ve been so good lately”. Sometimes when we screw up, we say, “Whatever, I’m so over budget anyway” and let the crisp new thousand shilling notes fly. It’s the “lost cause” kind of thinking, when in fact every day is a chance to start afresh and exercise that non-spending muscle.
What to do: If you have a bad day, don’t give up or beat yourself up. Just start the following day with an even stronger resolve. Everyone messes up but the key is what we do with our failures. Use your spending mistakes to inspire you to do better. Don’t give them more power by wallowing in them.
I’m too busy to think about this
Have you ever noticed the people who complain they don’t have time for something are often the same people who often spend time trying to control things they can’t change – like market, media and people’s opinions?
They neglect areas where our actions can make a difference – like costs. That’s worth the effort. This excuse comes down to an inability to manage priorities.
Cliché as it might sound, everyone has the same 24 hours available to them every day, but not everyone makes the same choices about how to use them. No matter how busy you are or think you are, there is also some time to squeeze in for your finances.
What to do: Rather than whine about how you never have time to do what you want, take 20 minutes every other day, to learn about budgeting, saving, investing and managing your money. Time spent prioritising your finances can make a world of difference.
This new phone/car is an investment
There’s nothing ‘investment’ about a phone. You might want a new smartphone, but you don’t need it. It is a device for communicating with people, period. People find all manner of reasons to get a new phone: “I need a bigger screen”, “I need a smaller screen”, “It is two years old”, “It just came out”, “I just got a bonus” etc.
A new phone might do something a bit faster but it won’t add much value to the quality of our lives. Also, a phone depreciates in value very quickly.
Some people buy expensive cars so that they can make an impression at meetings; however, the client rarely walks to the parking lot to see it.
If you are dissatisfied or disgruntled with certain areas in your life, a new car or phone will not fix it.