I left the house. I ran errands and dropped off a month’s worth of donations for the food pantry. I hiked the trails around the lake. I walked my neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods. During the string of three sunny, non-snowy days, I logged almost twenty miles. I spent a lovely Easter catching up with both sides of my family. I took care of a lot of items on my to-do and want-to-do lists. On the surface, it looked like this spring break was a success.
But maybe it wasn’t. Towards the tail end, I hadn’t been able to shake this general malaise. Vacationing wasn’t an option this year due to scheduling conflicts, but I felt like I had truly made the best of this homebound break. In fact, aside from some planned grocery shopping and home repair items that were already line items in our budget, I didn’t spend a dime. And therein lies the problem, at least sort of.
The problem isn’t actually with spending or saving. It’s the way I approach them both. When I save, I can stay camped out in workout clothes. They’re comfortable, they’re clean, and they’re even surprisingly color-coordinated. I didn’t put on any makeup or take any time to do anything special with my hair. No, this was my get-shit-done look. And it worked. And then it didn’t.
Towards the end of break, I called my mom to whine to her about the wintery weather and comment on the lack of sunshine. Basically, I had the blahs and needed someone to listen to me for a minute. Her almost immediate response was to joke that I go tanning and then to offer that we come over and watch Star Wars with her and my dad. Before I could even finish explaining that Mr. P was in the garage working on a project and I was cleaning up around said project, she cut me off:“Just stop. Put on some nice clothes and go out for an appetizer* and a drink.” I hemmed, I hawed. She continued on: “You’re not an old person. You’re not your father. Go. Date your husband. Call me tomorrow.” And then she hung up.
A clever one, that mom of mine is. You see, by abruptly ending our conversation I was forced to operate under a different code. This is not the save-money, live-purposefully code. This is the do-what-I-said-lest-you-be-subject-to-a-lifetime-of-Italian-guilt code. So I did what any guilt-averse daughter would do. I got off the couch, I got dressed, and I left the house. Could I have saved $30 by staying in? Absolutely. But it turns out, this low-key night out was one of the highlights of my break.
Now I understand that the average person can probably strike a healthy balance between saving and spending. The way in which I managed to not just correct, but overcorrect, my excessive consumerism and mindless spending is not the stuff of which great personal finance strategies are made. I get that. I also know that there are plenty of ways to get out and enjoy life without spending a cent. But sometimes it’s good to indulge a little. Sometimes it’s OK to spend.
*Even when she’s encouraging me to spend money, she’s reminding me to not spend that much money.
Note: Thanks to a really fun rebate on the Ibotta app that works at any restaurant or bar, our bill came to $27 with tip and we scored a $4 cash-back rebate that will go straight to our Paypal account. It’s pretty nifty. If you want to join my team, click here for the link. You get $10, I get $5.
So Tell Me…Have you ever fought the urge to spend to a fault? What is the best money that you’ve spent lately?