If you read my blog enough, you know I'm not thrifty. Or frugal or however you want to describe it.
But I am pretty good at keeping track of my spending, working toward my financial goals and saving money.I have gotten comfortable.
That's good! Because I want to be able to get what I want and go where I please without biting my nails or hoping I didn't just drain my checking account.
But it's also not so good. With comfort comes complacency, which can mean sliding back into bad habits that got me in trouble with credit card debt.
I have noticed that without a financial nemesis, I have been awfully slack with my dough.
I used to think "Do I need this or want this?" I used to avoid spots that caused me to spend on impulse (Target, I'm giving you the side eye).
But now... now I just wander through Target when I don't need anything, just looking. On my lunch break I'll wander through the cosmetics aisle of CVS to see if there are any new colors of anything, just in case. In case what? And let's not talk about my constant perusal of the sales pages of my favorite retailers (J. Crew, Banana Republic, Zappos... you mutha frackas).
I make lots of impulse buys. I don't manage my food budget well and don't really try.
These aren't huge obnoxious expenses, no. But every little one seems to make it easier to make bigger purchases, budget be damned.
For example, I flipped through my latest J. Crew catalog and picked out three separate outfits, complete with shoes and jewelry and ALMOST clicked "Submit" online, to the tune of $1,500.
What the H E Double Hockey Sticks?
I guess the difference is, I DIDN'T make those big purchases precisely because I didn't want a balance on my credit card or I knew there wasn't enough money left in my budget. So maybe I shouldn't beat myself up so much -- thinking is not doing.
But it sure is the first step.
When I was in debt, all I wanted was to be out of debt. When I took a step backward in debt repayment, I got depressed, then angry, then even more determined to pay it off. Every payment was a victory. Watching the grand total fall was thrilling. I could see the finish line.
Now that I am out of debt (and don't ever plan to go back, thank you very much), I can't say I have a financial goal that really gets my heart pumping. I wanted to save six months of living expenses because it seemed like the responsible thing to do -- one because the economy tanked and I worked for a tech startup and two because I wasn't crazy about my job anyway, but didn't exactly have a bunch of options lined up.
I made saving for this goal automatic because it was easier and, honestly, if I had to think about it and manually make those deposits, I'm not sure I would have done it. I think I might have found some other fun, but not asset-building things to do with that money.
Now I am sitting on the cusp of achieving my goal, in exactly the amount of time I planned to do it in. YAY! But... not as big a Yay as paying off my debt.
As for saving for retirement, um yeah, see, my personal finance gene must be defective, because that DOES NOT excite me. Most smart personal finance bloggers, or any smart person, digs saving for retirement or talking about building their balances. Not me. That talk bores the daylights out of me. My current 401k is doing nicely, to my shock... and to my disinterest.
I have said way back when I started this blog that money and money talk did nothing for me. Freedom was what I wanted. And money, to me, was the freedom to do whatever. If I could eat, have a place to live and move around as I pleased, then everything else would work out.
So, what am I missing here? I need a GOAL, a S.M.A.R.T. goal. I think the part of missing is the RELEVANCE. Right now, I can't think of anything I want so badly that I can focus financially like a laser.
How about you guys? Think I'm nuts? Are you in the same boat? Let me know... unless you think I'm nuts, keep that to yourself :-)