Treat Yourself!

636224642182272196-1054711012_Treat-yo-self

 

… but plan for it ahead of time.

Look, I’m not a financial adviser. I haven’t written books of money from the perspective of a millionaire that pulled herself from her bootstraps. I haven’t helped thousands get their financial shit together through sold out speaking engagements, and I most certainly have not been booked by daytime TV in any capacity. I’m only talking from experience, and as with even expert opinions, you should take what I say with a grain of salt and decide for yourself what is best for you.

I get it. I want that. I want it now. I got to have it. Impulsive purchases give us a high of sorts. For me, it happened to be a coping mechanism to deal with my depression where buying more clothes felt like a good idea at the time, even though my closet was already overflowing with clothes I never even wore! Seriously, my mom and friends are notorious for telling me I always wear the same three items of clothing despite everything I have. Kind of like Charlie Brown, though nobody ever berates him about it. 

So, is treating yourself bad? No, but learning how much to treat yourself can be challenging.

Let’s go back in time. I grew up low income. My mother was a single parent working minimum paying jobs while trying to raise my sister and I. Going to the store was more about window shopping than actually buying things. Oh, you want McDonald’s? Sorry, no money for that. It was all about the essentials, and while my mom was certainly thrifty and resourceful, guess what happened when I started working while in college?

I went in the opposite direction of being thrifty and started buying anything I wanted (while still paying my half of the rent). I had absolutely no filter because as naive as it sounds, eighteen year old Angelica thought she was suddenly rich on her own minimum wage!

The majority of my checks working at some mall teen store went directly back into that store because of the enticing employee discount. I kept upgrading my computers and phones, as if I actually had the means for it. At this time, I still paid everything on time and had great credit until a few years later when treating myself finally caught up to me.

I hit the kind of wall that you hit when you’ve had one too many drinks.

After hitting this metaphorical wall, I then went into the other direction with the mentality of: I HAVE TO BUCKLE DOWN. Can’t spend money on that, or that or this, no more spending money.

Yet, that also was not the best solution for me. Having the mentality of “can’t spend money on that” just made me feel more guilty and horrible about myself and what direction I was headed toward. What was a girl to do?

PRIORITIZE.

It’s been a year since I have been practicing a solid budget, and I still get to treat myself. The difference? I have an annual budget on Excel (we’ll discuss this in more detail in later posts) where I am able to view at a glance each month, determine necessary expenses (bills, groceries, utilities) and then figure out how much money is left over that I can spend on other things I want. This way I can treat myself to coloring my hair or going to a concert or taking a trip.

I’ve even set dates that I know for certain that I want to treat myself on, and actually save money ahead of time for that Treat Yourself Day that I picked. If you know that next month you want to go out on the town, then save for that night this month! Obviously, this should be different from a normal savings routine. It’s better to be proactive than borrow money from your actual savings account for a Treat Yourself Day.

It’s OK to treat yourself, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Why is it that money has a tendency to make us feel guilty? Guilt doesn’t make for the best relationship, and something I learned from reading plenty of self help books this past year is that in general we have to learn to have a much more positive relationship with money.

So, treat yourself responsibly. Plan ahead or prioritize current expenses in order to feel less guilty about it, and also to maintain control over how, when and with what you treat yourself.

 

 

Do you remember your first piggy bank?

Mine was Mexican. He was born and raised in Mexico before deciding that he would have a better future by pursuing the American Dream. He was large, bright red, and had flowers tattooed all over his ceramic body. Unfortunately, things did not end well for him.

After following me, the little pigtail-ed girl that fed him every now and then to the U.S., he met a rather abrupt end.

The weapon: a hammer. The motive: I wanted money right then and there.

Do you remember the first time you broke a piggy bank?

You can’t un-break a piggy bank. You can certainly try to glue it back together or wrap it up in band-aids. The action, though remains in the past. The action cannot be taken back.

Sure, modern piggy banks come with little round, plastic covers on their bellies so you can get slide your money out without resorting to murder. These aren’t real piggy banks. These fake pigs are the equivalent of a checking account: a tool where you can keep spending your money right as you deposit it.

Do you remember when you first paid the bare minimum amount on your credit card? Or when you missed a payment? Or when you didn’t finish paying off your balance before the zero percent interest period expired? Or when you transferred a balance to another card? Or when you avoided answering your phone? Or when you began hording a massive GLAD bag of unopened bills deep inside your tiny closet?

I broke all those figurative piggy banks. The problem was that because they weren’t real piggy banks, they never made any noise. I never had to immediately clean up the pieces. I silently continued to keep making more bad decisions.

The weapon: impulsiveness. The motive: I wanted money right then and there.

WAIT UP ANGELICA, what the HEY is this blog about?

Spoiler alert: I filed for bankruptcy SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO!

I’ve learned a lot from my horrible financial decisions. In the year in took me to come up with the money to retain my bankruptcy lawyer, I also learned how to develop a healthy relationship with money and have been able to maintain a decent budget. There’s still more I am learning, but I want to be able to share what I’ve learned and also continue on this financial wellness journey with you.

In short: Whatever your financial situation right now (and maybe you never even went close to bankruptcy) there’s a lot of us in the same boat, trying to take our piggy banks back to safety.

Let’s stop simply bitching about money and start being proactive. Let’s also stop treating money like it’s this big and scary monster, and learn how to think of it as a positive thing.

&

Let’s stop feeling like we can’t talk about money.