Changing habits is hard. That’s all there is to it.
I’m changing my money spending habits to a more healthful way of doing things. I’ve had this “ignorance is bliss” attitude for a long time and it’s time to get back to reality. And the reality is that once my “fun money” allotment for the month is gone, it’s gone. Period.
I’ve also had this habit of blaming my spending habits on my mood disorder. It’s true that manics spend more money that non-manics and I’m no different. But the manic spending kept going even after the mood had changed. It just became a plain old habit.
There are two keys to changing my particular situation:
1) Be involved in our household finances. I have to pay at least some of the bills. This year I’m even doing my share of the tax preparation. If I see that the money isn’t there, I won’t spend what’s not there. I won’t spend what’s earmarked for other things if I know it’s to pay for groceries or car maintenance or what-have-you. I can’t just look away and say, “It’s Jared’s problem.” That was a good excuse when I was incapacitated and psychotic, but that last episode was 3 years ago. It’s time to be involved. Setting up a budget has been very good for me because it reminds me…the money is really already spent before it even comes in on things that we need just to survive.
2) Communicate with Jared. Our money issues are really our communication issues. I used to get away with so much spending because I’d just go out and do it, not talk with him about what I wanted to spend first. Jared rarely called me on it and rightly so, because it was my responsibility to get my act together, it was not his responsibility to police me. This afternoon I had my first real break-through…I’d just gotten back from a doctor’s appointment where I wasn’t charged what I thought I’d be charged. I had more money than I expected. So, I found an online photography membership I wanted to purchase that was roughly the same amount as the bill I had expected to pay but hadn’t needed to pay. What did I do? I was a good girl. I picked up the phone and called Jared, confessed that we didn’t owe that medical bill after all, and told him that I’d nearly spent the money. He congratulated me and promptly told me, well, not to spend it. Bottom line is that if I want to spend money outside my “fun money” budget, I HAVE to talk to Jared.
We did our budget for the month and I do get my “fun money,” as I referred to it earlier. I have a plan, too. I set out what I think I want to buy with my “fun money” for the month. A mini-budget-within-a-budget, if you will. As it turned out, I had a moment of weakness a couple of days ago and bought something unplanned, so there went my coffeehouse budget for the month of February. Ouch! A lesson learned. My budget within a budget is going to work because it’s going to force me to decide what I really want. Because my February “fun money” is almost gone(and it’s not even February, I realize this), I started a wishlist instead, of things I think I want but that I will have to wait. The best part is that wish lists are free!
Changing this spending habit is hard, but I’m determined to do so. I’m changing where I hang out. I’m changing how I spend my time. I don’t have to be a hermit at home to not go out buying things all the time.
I’ll get there. This family will get back to financial health. It will take time, but we’ll get there.