Money and Emotions: Planning for Financial Emotional Pitfalls by Onicia Muller

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This week we have a special guest post by Onicia Muller. When I set out with Breaking the Piggy Bank, I intended it to create an open discussion about money and ourselves. Onicia’s guest post continues the discussion we began last week with my post about Financial Literacy Basics: Habits Between Pay Dates.


Money and Emotions: Planning for Financial Emotional Pitfalls

During my final year of college, I found myself paying for a 3-bedroom apartment, 2 maxed out credit cards, overdue rent and utilities. Under our parents’ advice, my two sisters and I mixed finances so we could live in a nice apartment away from city distractions that most students faced. We coexisted mostly in harmony and our apartment was cheaper than each of us renting a room in a student flat.

Unfortunately, while away for study abroad and internships, my sisters and I fell out of touch and we neglected our bills. Since I was the only one physically in the building the following year, I had to take on all the bills or face eviction and debt collectors.

The Pig’s recent post on habits in between pay dates reminded me of some habits I developed to cope during that time.

When I confessed to my mom about my financial burden, I explained that I thought I couldn’t even afford a soda. She said, “Everyone deserves candy. Breaking your budget for one candy bar is not a crime. Don’t feel guilty.”

The two habits I then developed were changing when I opened my bills and when I did grocery shopping.

See no evil … until I’m ready

Most bills aren’t surprises. Even so, companies give you a reasonable amount of time to pay them. Instead of reacting I became proactive.

New rule: DON’T check the mail between Friday and Sunday. It’s very unlikely there’s a pending payment due within three days. So, chill out, ignore the mailbox, and enjoy the weekend.

Not letting bills interrupt my weekend reduced emotional spikes and therefore impulse purchases.

When I did check my mail, I didn’t open letters until I was ready to pay them (usually Thursday morning). To calm my nerves, I wrote (and still do) “seen” and the date on the envelope. Later, I wrote the “seen” and “paid” dates near the amount. These are things that I still do.

I was now in control and strong enough to face my financial demons. Now I needed to find a healthy way to reward myself.

Rediscovering joy for shopping

When you’re poor, spending money on ‘responsible’ things isn’t fun. My triggers (opening bills, meeting a school deadline, and prematurely celebrating booking a temp gig) were mostly under control, but I needed some retail therapy.

Impulse purchases on clothes or candy temporarily made me feel better. However, the guilt that followed was not worth it.  Instead of hitting the vending machine or ordering takeout every time I had an emotional spike, I changed how I did groceries.

I changed my shopping day from whenever to Thursday nights. We had three grocery stores within walking distance from each other, so I kind of got into meal prep and couponing. Nothing serious, I already and a thesis and bills to worry about.

As a reward for buying “real food” on discount, I felt confident adding value pack candy to my shopping list. I could now easily afford 1-2 sweet treats PER DAY without breaking the piggy bank 😉 .

Now, watch the magic.

It’s Friday (the weekend), my bills are paid, I have snacks and real food in the fridge, and I’m not being bullied by my mailbox. If I want, I could pack a lunch and chill in the city or parks and not waste money at fast food places. During the week, instead of hitting the vending machine for $1.25 Snickers because something stressed me out, I just reach into my backpack for one that cost about $0.50 because past me purchased in bulk. High five!

Wealth management skills getting better. Emotional triggers handled. Sweet Tooth secured. Feeling more positive about life.

What are your financial emotional pitfalls and what habits can you develop to avoid them?


Onicia is an entertainment blogger and humor columnist. When she’s not working on screenplays and stage scripts, she does stand-up comedy in Chicago.

Interested in writing a guest post at Breaking the Piggy Bank? I would love to have more voices and perspectives about money related items. Pitch ideas here.

Financial Literacy Basics: Habits In Between Pay Dates

Scrooge McDuck

Whether you get paid weekly, bi-weekly or monthly as in my case, there are common habits that you can develop to get by while you live in that bittersweet spot found between pay dates. This particular post is not going to tackle what to do if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, as that is another post for another time. I’m talking about having your bills already taken care of, but things may seem a little tighter than usual as you wait for the next paycheck.

This is the time when targeting your usual habits becomes key. For example, I just got paid on April 16th. I already covered my bills for the month, but I don’t expect my next paycheck until May 16th. People often ask me how I manage to balance my budget (wealth management) to cover a month with a single paycheck. Oftentimes, I find it easier to make a money plan this way than when I used to get paid bi-weekly. Why? Because it forces me to understand that no additional money is coming into my bank account until thirty days later unless I find myself some side hustles.

You obviously can apply the same logic with shorter periods of time. In order to last whatever time length you have between paychecks, though, you need to take a look at your habits during that time. Habits that aren’t even initially money related can affect your money habits. What do I mean by this?

Let’s look at the following scenario that I often would get trapped in:

  • I set my alarm for 6:15 AM because that’s the time my dog wakes up to go outside. I take him outside, and while I should stay awake and get ready for work, I decide to take a nap instead. I set my alarm for 7:00 AM because I think that will be enough time to get ready for work. It is in fact plenty of time, since I only have a twenty-five minute commute and begin at 8:30 AM. However, I decide to snooze that 7:00 AM alarm. Snoozing an alarm becomes my default. Next thing I know, it’s 7:30 AM, and I still have to get ready. Guess what I wasn’t making time for: breakfast and lunch prep. Sometimes, I would run out without having eaten breakfast or gotten something decent to throw in my bag for lunch.

This resulted in making a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts on the way to work to grab coffee and a bagel for breakfast or stopping at McDonald’s for a Sausage McMuffin. I’d justify the purchases because I needed something to eat in the morning, after all. If I grabbed something light and quick from the refrigerator as my lunch in my hurry, then I would buy snacks from the store across from my job. These things add up and stemmed from my poor habit of not waking up on time in the mornings. Other habits in your life can impact your spending habits!

Do I wake up on time every single day I work now? No, but I have improved on this habit. On most days, I am able to prepare a lunch and breakfast item to take to work with me. I buy coffee as part of my regular groceries and take it to work to make at work. This in turn means that I don’t stop at Dunkin Donuts or McDonald’s as often anymore. The result? I can stretch my dollar a little bit more in between pay dates. I’m also possibly a bit healthier because of it.

What are some regular ol’ daily habits that you have that can impact your spending habits?


Don’t forget about ASK THE PIG! The Pig can’t answer your questions unless you submit them! 


Image credit: http://newsandviewsbychrisbarat.blogspot.com/2014/08/ducktales-retrospective-episode-95.html