It’s Christmas Day. I’m sat in my lounge enjoying some relaxing time off work. This year has been a challenging year filled with ups and downs and obstacles that have to be carefully managed. Last year I set myself clear goals. I wanted to raise my income. I wanted to start an extra income online. Most importantly I wanted to reduce my debt.
I’m proud that I can tick each box. I’ve made some formidable progress this year, as I did last year.
But this week I’ve ventured into overspending and I don’t care.
Every now and then you have to just allow yourself a breather, that’s why!
Will my overspending affect me? Yes! Am I worried? No. And the reason I’m not worried is the because of the biggest achievement I’ve had in the last couple of years. I have my finances under control and that all started with setting up a budget.
Now that doesn’t mean that surprises don’t happen from time to time. What it means is that I have a budget that tells me what the minutest change to my spending will do to my finances up to three years into the future. That gives me a sense of confidence and comfort that I never had before.
And now that I have that confidence I can factor in rewards to give myself a little breather every now and then.
Looking back on the last two or three years I feel proud of myself today because the overspending this week was different. It was intentional and controlled and purposeful.
I’ve not gone all out crazy on the credit card. I’ve worked too hard to do something stupid like that. No, I decided that it was Christmas and I deserved a treat. My children and my partner deserved a treat. I deserved to just unwind and relax and breathe. It was my “f*#k it” moment, of sorts. My pat on the back or reward for working so hard on all of my goals this year.
What makes me most proud of myself was how controlled it was. I checked in with my budget. I made sure I knew how much I could spend before it impacted my financial goals too greatly. I made sure that I could correct my course over the next month or two. I even reduced the impact down to a month by pulling myself into line a little.
That logical, unemotional thinking means I’ve changed. I’ve regained control and it’s so invigorating to feel on top of yourself in this way. All of a sudden I feel out of a hole that I was drowning in three years ago. To be clear, I’m far from out of “the hole”, but this feels like I’ve reached a key stage in conquering the mountain. The top is in sight and it’ll be plain sailing from there.
Overspending on a budget is no longer a bad habit that leads to a bigger problem. No, my thought process has changed. The very core of my approach to spending has changed.
I have my finances on autopilot and I can let go of the controls. In doing so I can set new goals to focus on and this is where I’m feeling like this year will get interesting.
I’m an advocate for setting goals. Not just financial goals but life goals. Every year I reassess mine. Goal setting is more effective when you break them up into manageable chunks. I believe factoring in rewards at milestones makes the sense of achievement sweeter, which feeds the cycle.
I’ve written about goal setting before and talked about the psychology behind it. I find it quite fascinating how we can learn to change habits by leveraging how our brains are wired up.
This week I’ll be reassessing my goals. They are more than just New Year’s resolutions. My goals are more powerful than that. They are stakes in the ground broken down into achievable goals glued together with a plan to keep me on target.
And, just for the record, I’m NOT an advocate for overspending. If you find yourself doing that more regularly than you’d like then you should start with setting your own goal to change your habits. It’s easy to get started. Create a budget, I can help you with that, then get a grip on your finances. Before you know it you’ll understand where your money is going and how much you are able to spend based on your income. At this point, you can focus on not overspending and changing your financial habits.
Trust me, if you want more money in your pocket, or you see money leaving your pocket too much through overspending take the time to set up a budget. From where I stand today it’s indispensable!