Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting back to pain...

...but also back to anticipation and gratitude.

I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago that part of my plan for 2011 includes becoming more financially fit. I've studied and stared at and studied some more my plan to spend Mr. Dub's hard-earned salary. You do know what you call a plan to spend money, don't you?

It's called a budget.

One of the TV shows that I like to watch is Til Debt Do Us Part. The financial guru on the show is Gail Vaz Oxlade, who happens to be hilarious. She really tells it like it is, and I appreciate her sense of humor and outrage at the mess people get themselves into.

Recently on her blog she wrote about the Buy Now, Pay Later plans that people sometimes get sucked into, and why BNPL is harmful to your financial health. One thing she said really struck me, and here it is: "The biggest problem with BNPL is the ease with which people can take home stuff they have yet to pay for, making it feel like they got a special deal, and leaving them with the euphoria of purchase without the pain of payment as an off-set. Physiologically we need this balance to help us prioritize. Removing one side of the equation lets us delude ourselves."

Did you get that? She said physiologically. Not psychologically. Our bodies need the physical discomfort of letting go of money we earned in order to prioritize what our minds want to do. I think that's incredibly interesting.

One of the other tricks in her bag is to live on cash. To pay with cash for things like food, gas, entertainment, etc. To physiologically feel that pain as an off-set to the euphoria that comes with buying things, even things like groceries. I've been doing this for a couple weeks, and I see exactly what she means.

And while I am feeling the pain, I am also anticipating things. It's funny, actually, because now that I'm making myself plan for things instead of rushing out to buy them, I am enjoying the process of it all much more. I have "bought" myself time to find what I truly want rather than buying something because it's right in front of me. And I also feel much more grateful when I finally get the thing I've wanted because I've had to wait for it. It doesn't matter what the thing is that you want, whether it's a spool of fine silk thread or a new book or a new car. Waiting for it while you save up for it is gratifying in many ways.

It's been kind of fun and I believe it's developing my character. I'm learning, again, to not be a person who thrives on instant gratification. I am developing a little more self-discipline, and it's turned out to not be an ordeal. And far better to work on it now than to wait until I'm compelled to do it.