This weekend, one of my best friends came to visit (yay!). That meant I got out of my normal routine and had a little looser hold on my wallet than I usually do.
It wasn’t anything major – I drove more than I usually do, went out for a couple of meals, and bought a bathing suit (mine was four years old, so it needed to be replaced, but those things are expensive!). It didn’t help that I bought some new dresses on sale from the LOFT a few days earlier, although two of the three didn’t fit, so they’re going back. All in all, I probably spent a little over $100 that I normally wouldn’t have.
In the long run, that’s no big deal. I had been looking forward to a fun weekend with my friend for a while, and it’s not like we went overboard by any means. But on Saturday night, when we were on the way to meet some friends at a bar, I had an emotional breakdown – I was sitting in the car crying for really no good reason.
Most of it was due to having very little sleep, eating junk all day, being hormonal, and not being able to find a parking place, but part of it was definitely due to feeling like I fell off the bandwagon of sticking to a budget that I care quite a bit about maintaining.
I knew, logically, that going to this bar would cost me about $6 for a beer and a tip. Not a big deal! At all! And yet I found myself running through not only what I had spent that day, but what I would be spending through the rest of the week – so I’ve got my cell bill due, and I need gas, and I’m almost out of groceries, and I’ve got plans with my friend that one evening, and then I’ll be going out to dinner with my mom a couple times next weekend….
It was weird and not healthy.
The best thing I can think of to relate it to is an eating disorder – someone who just can’t see their body for what it actually looks like and has an obsessive knowledge of everything they ate that really isn’t necessary.
Lucky for me, I have a super understanding friend. I went home and took a nap, and by the time she and our other friends got back to my place, I was way less crazy and able to enjoy hanging out with them. Honestly, money aside, it was the right choice for my evening.
I’m not going to stop budgeting and tracking my finances. The benefits I get from it are huge. But I don’t want to be someone who can’t emotionally handle going over my budget for a couple days, because it’s not fun for me or for the people I care about.
When you break out of the consumerist mindset and see how quickly your money can grow if you just stop spending all of it, it’s kind of addictive. Just like any addiction, that can be bad. In my case, it leads to a poverty mindset that isn’t necessary – where I can feel like I’m always either broke or right on the edge of it, when the truth is that I have months worth of living expenses in the bank. That can be helpful because it makes me actually think about those little $5 purchases, but bad because then I unduly freak out about them.
These kind of freakouts are rare for me now. I used to have them all the time, when I was in college and my bank account was frequently in the four figures – including change. I’d furiously write out schedules of when I was getting paid and when bills were due to reassure myself that it would be okay. That mindset has apparently stuck with me, and reared its ugly head this weekend.
I’ve had a good handle on it lately – not letting those little unexpected expenditures and purchases bother me. After all, I don’t want to let being frugal stop me from living my life.
How do you handle overspending? Have you ever had an emotional breakdown like mine for an equally ridiculous reason?