This guest post is from Mrs. Micah from Mrs. Micah – Finance for a Freelance Life. She is also the one behind the Finwikian – a resource of financial bloggers and financial information. If you like what you read here, make sure you visit her blog or you can subscribe to her feed here.
A while back, I got an e-mail from a fellow-blogger who was compiling a list of personal finance bloggers’ splurges. He wanted to know what, amid saving money and cutting things out, we felt was worth the money.
It was pretty easy for me to answer that—chocolate. 1 bag of Nestle semi-sweet chips each week. Sets us back less than $5/week. I know that translating that out into the big picture comes to several hundred a year and that should (maybe?) make me uncomfortable. After all, we could put that money towards paying down debt and investing in our futures.
But I don’t care.
I’ve told fellow bloggers that I think similar indulgences are ok. Maybe a latte every day isn’t a good move if you’re looking to cut back, but there’s wiggle room.
What matters is the overall course of your lifestyle. If you’re a debt blogger (or a non-blogger getting out of debt) then hopefully taken steps to start that journey. It’s not always fun. Maybe you work more jobs than necessary to earn snowflakes or maybe you cut out everything but the essentials.
On the one hand, it takes a lot of intensity and if you’re in it for the long run, it may require leniencies or breaks. But then many people also get themselves into debt little by little and pass things off as one-time or as giving themselves a break.
So, how do you tell if something’s an ok indulgence or if you’re slipping into a lifestyle you don’t want?
I came up with some questions to evaluate the situation/indulgence.
First, what are your goals and how are you doing on achieving them?
If you aren’t achieving your goals, then maybe its the big and little things that are getting in the way. 20 purchases of $5 items will cost you $100.
Second, what is the motivation behind your goals?
I think most people trying to get out of debt are motivated by the desire to feel happier (in the long term), to be free, to feel less trapped, etc. Is this thing you’re questioning in line with those goals? Or will it be like cheating on a diet? Feels good at the time but you hate yourself shortly afterwards.
Third, how does it fit in your budget?
I work on planning yummy but frugal menus. We haven’t eaten out since November (and even then it was Chipotle). We stay within our food budget even with the chocolate. I’m sure we could cut back even farther, but I designed the budget to reflect a level that we’re willing to live with for the long-term but to keep us on track.
Fourth, are you going directly against your goals for this?
Wealthy_1 is going on a vacation this summer. She’s saving up for it so that she won’t have to use credit and get any more debt (good good good). She’s slowing down but not stopping her debt repayment (not bad). If this vacation helps her family build good memories and since they haven’t been on vacation in 3 year I think it’s in line with her goals.
It’s ok if you don’t want to be a gazelle 100% of the time. If you’re not getting yourself back into debt, if you’re headed in the right direction, if you’re in line with your goals and motivations, you’re probably doing just fine.
Thanks Mrs. Micah for the guest post!