I admit it. I’m a GPS-watcher. Whenever we go on long roadtrips, I track our progress closely on our GPS navigator.
In doing so, the main thing that I watch is our ETA. Shaving minutes off our (projected) arrival time is like a game to me.
If you’ve ever done something similar, then you’ve likely noticed that whatever gains you manage to accrue are easily erased (and then some) by even the quickest of pit stops.
You’ve spent miles and miles (and miles!) picking up an extra three minutes. You’re now due in at 3:24 instead of 3:27. But then you decide to stop for a snack. And when you get back in the car, your ETA has slipped to 3:39. Drat!
In thinking about this, I realized that it’s a good analogy for personal financial management. While you may have done a great job of trimming the fat from your budget, the effects of those little efficiencies can be wiped away in a flash.
Sure, you make your coffee at home, you clip coupons, you’ve scaled back (or cancelled) your TV service, etc. But just one moment of weakness could easily wipe away those sacrifices — and then some.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t ever enjoy the finer things in life. It’s okay to spend money. Really, it is. Yes, on “wants” as well as needs. You just need to find a balance and then be careful to maintain control.
While you can’t be spend freely without regard to your resources, you also shouldn’t live a life of constant self-denial. If you do, you’ll soon grow frustrated and run the risk of going overboard in the opposite direction.