Financial habits are like dieting

posted by Jeff | Monday, February 8, 2016, 6:19 PM | comments: 0

I'm sure this may seem like an absurd comparison, but I find sticking to good financial habits to be a lot like dieting. If you have issues eating right, then you know that sometimes it's hard to stick to the physical routine, and it's easy to binge now and then. Financially, you can spend money on stupid shit, use credit in an irresponsible manner, etc., which is a lot like binging in my mind.

But here's the thing, I try to stick to some kind of weak routine for diet and exercise because it's what you're supposed to do, and I understand the theory about why I should be doing it. No need to invite extra ways to die by living on pizza, wings and soda. I don't, however, do it because of some kind of bad experience (well, not beyond seeing photos of my fat ass 12 years ago, or remembering being winded walking up stairs). This is in stark contrast to the financial binging. I avoid that because I remember buying whatever useless crap I felt like buying, and then making minimum payments on credit cards. Then when I started Act II of my life, with a new wife, a move and a baby, I got my shit together and promised myself I would never be like that again. A bad experience motivates me.

In the last few months, I noticed I've had a lot of anxiety about money, which is mostly unwarranted. Buying that damn car meant emptying our savings and deferring paying for certain things. It all went according to plan, mind you, and I didn't pay any credit card interest or whatever. The somewhat dishonest thing that I did is think of it in terms of the tax credit associated with the car. Basically I ended up financing that, but figured that investing the money back will far offset the interest. It all works out, but I don't like obligations and borrowing, even when I can beat "the system," so to speak. Then I also did some binge spending on our big family vacation for next summer and some living room furniture.

Why so anxious? Again, it's because of the situation in Act I of my life. I've been in a bad place, and don't want to ever go back there. In this instance, I didn't take on a lot of risk, but it's still funny how even harmless borrowing causes worry. I guess this is being scared straight. I wish I could tell 20-something me not to be cavalier with money.


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