I love shopping. It’s completely true and I own that. Having a solid, considered budget makes shopping even more fun because I know when I stick to it I am spending according to my goals and future plans. Spending from my grocery budget makes food even tastier. Spending from my clothing budget makes shoes fit better. Spending from my miscellaneous budget makes thrift stores even more rewarding.
For example, this week my budget reflected a preference for cooking at home to eating out. I did some light web searching and found several recipes for chicken chili in a slow cooker. I went to the grocery store and picked out a jalapeno , red onion (first time using it) and a green bell pepper. I added 2 more spices to my growing and increasingly respectable collection (cumin and chili powder). I checked out with the confidence of someone who knows they’ve made the right choice. I made a surprisingly delicious pot of chicken chili on Monday night and have been enjoying it immensely. But this morning (Friday) I felt suddenly self-conscious about eating the same thing all week.
You see, I shared my chicken chili story with my co-workers. It went something like this: “omg, wow, first time and it’s great, perfect, yum, ooh, ahh”. That was Tuesday. Wednesday I brought enough in to share with two of them. (The third brought her lunch.) Thursday, I brought more in. At this point the response was, “You still have more?!” That stung.
Friday– I caved to the (possibly non-existent) peer-pressure.
I didn’t want to eat the same thing again so I didn’t bring my lunch in at all. At lunch time I started asking around to see who wanted to order take-out with me. No one. (Traitors.) I had to make a decision. Once I saw that everyone already reserved food from the Friday Lunch Bunch (intraoffice food option.) I decided to just go home and eat– you guessed it–more chicken chili and this time with cornbread!
It was better than ever.
Budgeting is a “very small steps make big impressions” process. If I had chosen take out today it would have been at least $12. By itself it’s no big deal. But in the larger picture it’s paying twice for one meal. (Once for the meal I have at home and again for the impulse buy today). Instead I stuck to my plan and am the better for it. I will continue the difficult work to build a new habit of following my budget. Because the budget is sound and will lead me to the promised land.
Small steps make big impressions. —Confucius (maybe)
As it relates to the (likely imagined) peer pressure– I am considering making my crock pot meals mid-week. It will have the same result (one meal for 3-5 days) But it will feel different in the office. And it will take into consideration public perception. Which matters more than I anticipated it ever would. I’m a huge proponent of arming yourself for the battle. My battle today was (Tuh. Fine. Completely non-existent) peer pressure. I can either ignore it (inadvisable) or I can zig when it distractions zag. I like a good pattern.
Where do you get tripped up or distracted in your spending?