A few posts ago I talked about making a monthly costs spreadsheet to track “built-in” costs that are either required (rent, utilities, car insurance) or “out of sight out of mind” monthly debits like gym membership, Netflix, etc. I mentioned that a la carte costs like going out to dinner are a different matter. That is because built-in costs are pretty easy to target and eliminate. You just call or log in and cancel. A la carte spending choices happen all the time.
So do you tend to spend or save?
I used to lead a pretty spending-centric lifestyle. I went out with friends to dinner and bars, bought clothes continuously for all the socializing, spent more on other diversions like concerts, movies, sports… I had a good time. I don’t think I was doing anything particularly expensive, and there were a good deal of Groupons in the mix. But I was choosing to spend money here and there because I could, and that hindered my ability to do any serious saving.
My commitment to start saving and paying off loans was made easier by some urgent dental work that required that I get serious or else risk getting into considerable credit debt. Which is where I drew the line. Plus, I moved from the city to the country-ish in the meantime. Which, while a major life move, made sense for my job and makes not going out much easier.
Despite all the constraints that made spending not an option, the urge to spend was still there at first. But, just like they say, over time my goals overtook my interest in spending. I scrutinize even small expenditures if they are not totally necessary because they will just set back my goals. My shoes will literally need to fall apart before I buy more.
But I admit both mindsets are self-perpetuating and pretty easy to fall into.