Now that I’m debt free, I have a little money left over, and I’m don’t know what to do with it. I keep changing my mind about where I should direct it. I could save it in a regular savings account, put it toward last year’s IRA, put it toward this year’s IRA, sock it away in a house fund, or spend a little money on some much needed unfrumping.
Five days after making my final debt payment, I had to go to the mall. My computer screen was doing something funky, and I made my way to the Genius Bar, where the geniuses told me that my MacBook Pro “goes vintage” this year. That means that parts will be more expensive, and everything will need to be sent away because there’s no place in my city that fixes them. We talked about external hard drives and MacBook Airs, and then I politely unplugged my computer and walked away from the table.
I was so stunned at the thought of buying a new computer for $1,100 that I stopped in the nearest coffee shop to get caffeinated. I needed to think. The Nordstrom cafe was right across the way, so that’s where I ended up. Then I took that coffee into the shoe department and tried on two pairs of sneakers and two pairs of work-worthy shoes. I sat and talked about the $150 pair of ankle boots with the salesman while I held a pair of high-top Vans against my chest.
Then I politely stood up and walked away.
I’m five days into debt freedom and life suddenly got a whole lot more expensive.
Right now, I have one pair of work shoes, and they’re literally ten years old. They were a good buy, and I like things to last. I’m willing to invest in a $150 pair of dress shoes because I’ll probably wear them for several years. But, I hadn’t directed the money in my account yet, and unless it was already designated for shoes, I wasn’t ready to spend it.
I have the following expenses coming up: tax preparation, a plane ticket, possible taxes owed, earnest money (if a house comes on the market for less than $215,000) and now a computer and a pair of dress shoes.
I could have dropped $150 on the shoes. But I managed the urge to spend by realizing that I wasn’t managing my money. I wasn’t managing my desire to spend spend spend. i was letting my desire manage me.
The antidote was to go home and make a plan. I have to tell my money where and when it should go. I can always go back to the mall. Or, I could make the purchases online through Ebates and get a smidge of cash back. The point is: I can’t let myself go hog wild on a spending spree just because I reached my goal. Sure, I’d like to celebrate, but who says I have to spend money to honor my achievement?
After reaching a goal, we often think that we deserve a treat. I stood in front of the mirror and thought, “I deserve these Vans.” I’ve been very good about not spending money on clothing or “stuff.” I deserve a new pair of shoes. (Plus, I’m gonna need a pair soon.)
So I better plan for a pair.
Having a plan helps tame the spending urges.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to take all the spontaneous fun out of shopping. I don’t have to have the exact pair of shoes picked out. But, now that I know the price ranges ($150 and $70) then I know what to expect. I may not buy those exact pairs, but I can plan on having that much to designated for shoes.
That kind of planning causes a whole lot of peace of mind.
As for my computer, once I got it home, the screen was completely normal again. Maybe it will give me time to sock away the $1,100 for a new one before it goes all vintage and hard to repair.
How do you tame your spending urges?