I deserve it!
After a couple of days, of solid economic data, I figured I’d get back to my normal writing about Financial Things that really annoy the living feces out of me, and given we are in Advent, it’s easy to go after this topic, which is our ability to congratulate ourselves with overspending, for doing a small thing well.
Don’t get me wrong it is important to reward yourself if you have achieved a goal in life (even though the Protestant Work ethic, which I grew up with suggests the statement, “What do you want? A Medal? You did what you were supposed to!” is more apropos), but remember that the reward should be tempered with the nature of the goal that you have achieved.
What do I mean? If you have managed to battle a major illness, and are healthy again, going out to dinner with a loved one to celebrate is certainly fair payment for that achievement, however there are countless examples which I will now elaborate on to show that sometimes the reward is more of a punishment:
- You have not bought lunch at work for the week, so you decide to celebrate with your wife on Friday evening by going out to a nice restaurant for dinner. That is much like an AA member celebrating their 100 day chip with a bottle of champagne, makes no sense to me.
- You have paid off your credit cards completely, so you decide to celebrate you will take your family on a well deserved vacation. Unless you have been saving for this vacation, and are planning on paying for it with cash, this is the same as picking the scab off a healing wound. Find something cheaper to celebrate
- I have finished my Christmas shopping and have come in under budget so I’ll take the left over money and buy myself a nice gift. Why not take that money and pay off debt? Maybe donate the money to charity, at least you get a tax write off with it?
- You have paid off your car finally, and decide it is time to trade it in and get a new one. OK, this really does happen a lot folks, why not keep the car and enjoy not having payments? If the car is a lemon then I could see some reason to the idea, but if the car is working fine, why do you need to get back into debt for an asset that loses value?
I guess I am sounding a little curmudgeonly on this list, but please keep in mind that spending money freely for some of us is like a drug, the more you spend, the more you want to spend and this is where a lot of us get into our financial dilemmas.
Congratulations if you reach your goal, but celebrate frugally and you will feel even better later as well.