Spending money before its in your pocket. You know this is a frequent topic when it comes to money and often its used to illustrate poor financial habits.
Some guy buying a big screen TV in anticipation of a big bonus. Or some girl eyeing some strappy sandals and a nice paring bag. Because she deserves it.
Honestly I’ve never suffered from wanting to buy stuff before even having the money in my hand. Actually I’m a really bad shopper period. Even when I see something I want and think about it I regularly convince myself out of the purchase.
And even to this day there are things I still want after years and years of thinking about it. (Like the signature little black dress, and a nice blazer). Have I bought them? nope. Because I don’t really need them.
Yet I realized that even though I don’t buy things. Specially physically things with out having the money. I actually do suffer from spending in advance.
Well after college graduation I made the lofty goal to pay off my $46,000 debt in just 5 yrs. I knew I didn’t want that pain in the butt hanging around long term. I needed to kill it.
My plan to kill it came with me dedicating plenty of my paycheck to pay it off. But where my advanced spending is really highlighted is in the fact that I also earmarked my tax refunds years in advanced for debt repayment.
That’s right, before I ever got my tax refunds I had already spent them. I did some math and conservatively calculated that I could expect to get at least an extra $1000 in my tax refund. In turn I could use those funds towards my loans each of those 5 yrs. Sure I spent them on debt repayment but I’d spent them nonetheless.
Up to 5 years in advance. Compared to those who spend just a paycheck in advance I have a serious problem. 🙁
Why exactly is this a problem?
Well let me break it down to you in this way. When you spend your money ahead of time. It means you need it. You’re depending on it. And when your banking on money it means your going to stress out about it. If it doesn’t come your going to be SOL. I think it’s a lot worse when you have a physical item in your hands you can’t pay for. But even if its just the idea of future spending you still end up stressing about it.
It’s good to know what the plan is and its motivational for sure. After all I did pay off all my student debt in just a little over 3 yrs. But you know what? the stress was there, and if the refund wasn’t what I was expecting, so was the disappointment.
It’s stressful because it limits your options. It ways you down. You feel stuck, after all you really need that next paycheck. You’ve spent it already.
And just like those paycheck to paycheck people I would have to scramble to figure out what my next move was. Not because I really needed to but because in my mind I had already spent it, so now I needed to find a way to make up the difference.
Well I’ve paid off my debt so what’s there to worry about now.
I should be relaxed. I shouldn’t be worried about money anymore. I mean at the start of the year our networth was over $85k and its been growing ever since.
We’ve cut our monthly costs drastically simply by paying off all our debts. Inversely increasing our cash flow.
We have a nice years worth of safety cushion in a saving account.
We could both loose our jobs and we’d survive just fine with plenty of time to find new ones.
So no stress for the Roamer. Not money related at least. Right?!
You see I’ve gone and done it again. Spent all my money before I even made it.
It’s important to note that I also realized that the bigger the amount your on the hook for the bigger the amount of stress.
That makes sense right? If you owed someone $5 you wouldn’t be nearly as worried as if you owed them $5,000.
So tell me Roamer with all that plush why are you still stressing about money?
You want the truth? You can’t handle the TRUTH!
It’s this stupid FI goal! Ha-ha seriously!
You see some people say when you save for retirement don’t think of it as savings. Your actually spending it on your future self.
I have made this thing so real that my money is already spent. And not just the money I’ve saved so far but all the money I’m yet to earn in the next 7-10 yrs.
I made this, its all my doing. I’ve promised myself this and in doing so I’ve put myself in debt and not just to my future self but to Mr. Roamer too. The more he talks about it the more real it is, the more that it becomes unacceptable to do anything less.
You see just like my student debt I’ve created this stress. In truth if I didn’t get my 1k I would have been fine. Realistically it would have pushed out my repayment by a couple of months and made me pay maybe.. maybe… a couple extra $100. The world wouldn’t have ended. But it stressed me out.
And now we aren’t talking about 1k we are talking about multiples and multiples of it.
I’ve put this thing over our heads and as I think about just quitting for a year because night shift suck for our family… It sucks so bad. I am stressed out, scrambling to see if I can make the numbers work. If I can calculate how we can still make it to FI in 7-10 yrs.
But do I really need to run these numbers?! Is age 41 really worse? Or 45 for that matter.
I recognize it now, the dangers of spending before hand. Because you put yourself up against a wall. You give yourself that fight or flight feeling. You make yourself feel trapped.
Really, the runway is clear. Unlike a jet on an aircraft carrier I won’t plummet into the ocean if I take more time to sail into the FI sky.
With the habits we have we will get there for sure, maybe not in a specific amount of time but we are headed in that direction.
Now that I’ve recognized it how do I remove these shackles I’ve placed on myself?
To you FI dreamer I send a warning and advice. Stay flexible. Don’t shackle yourself, not even to a goal…
Do you have any advice for me? For all you FI-ers how do you stay centered?
Lastly a Thanks to the minimalists who helped my thoughts flow after their great essay.
Also check out these other 2 relevant articles. They are great reads.
And Dividend Mantra’s Live more then one life
Don’t forget to leave me your advice below. Or just let me know how or what makes you worry about money?