One Bad Weekend….No Big Deal

There are two main goals that I strive for – the first is a healthy body, the second is a healthy bank account.  To me, both can be viewed as planning for a good future.  From a health standpoint, I watch what I eat, I exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and anything else I can do to maintain an excellent level of fitness, as well as to look good with my shirt off (I’ll admit, I’m a little vain).  From a financial standpoint, I watch what I spend, pay my bills, have savings and stick to my long-term plan that I have set out.  It’s interesting though, when a situation arises when I go against both of the goals that I hold so important the vast majority of the time, which is what happened this weekend…

The problem arose because I love ribs, and the city I live in happens to have an annual Ribfest that involves copious amounts of food and beer from the main sponsor of the event.  As I previously mentioned, I love ribs (a lot) – and I ate a lot of food at this event, including something called “butterfly” potatoes, which I had never tried before but would highly recommend (it is basically a mound of super thin-sliced potato that is freshly deep-fried) and other food items that I would put into the same nutritional family.

At the end of this festival, I found myself incredibly full, and significantly poorer.  The ribs were $22 per rack, which I had several, beer was $5 each, which added to my bill, and I ate several other things, which I would not classify as “cheap”.  All were fantastically tasty, but definitely not healthy.

For the weekend, I really didn’t do anything to get me closer to either of my goals.  Did I feel bad though?  Not really – I had a great time.  There was good music, wicked good food, and really good beer :).  At the end of the day, I guess it all comes down to knowing I’m not perfect.

I’d love to live on $6,000 per year like Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme, I would be able to retire significantly sooner than I am track for now.  I would also love to effortlessly sport a 6-pack on the beach, but I also like beer and other “bad” food, which limits my ability to achieve this goal.  I can recognize that spending around $150 in a weekend on beer or food is not getting me any closer to retirement, but at the same time this is an event that I look forward to all year – I don’t regularly spend that kind of money, or eat that much food, and I will be able to make up the losses over the next few weeks.

So, I didn’t really beat myself up over 2010 Ribfest, I’ll just save some money elsewhere in my spending and I’ll just walk an extra few kilometers over the next few days to burn off the extra calories (which probably number in the thousands) that I consumed over the weekend.

Do you have any similar situations where you knew something wasn’t really going to help achieve a goal, but did it anyway?  From my experience these tend to be the most fun (and usually expensive) times.

10 thoughts on “One Bad Weekend….No Big Deal”

  1. What a fun story. I believe that there’s a distinction between physical health, financial health, and happiness. Maybe we can call it mental health, and say that we’re being “balanced”.

    I took my family on a ten day vacation to Phoenix this past February. We had the use of a condo and I could claim my airfare as a business expense, but flying with five people is never cheap, even with a seat sale. We paid for food, including dining out, a car rental and amusement for the kids.

    We could have saved money by not going at all, but we had a wonderful time. I got to catch up with an old friend, the kids got to spend time out of doors and we all relaxed. And with how cold the weather has been in Calgary this summer, I don’t ever regret it.

  2. I plan every year for my girls’ weekends in April and September. I’ve already set up my spending plan through to the end of 2011 and have $200 planned in the first week of both months (I’ll slide that item to the correct week once the dates are firmed up). It’s a standard part of our family budget and nobody questions it – they’ve gotten used to hearing “I can’t miss you if I’m always with you”!

    For 4 days each spring and fall the 8 of us stay in a 5brm condo at a ski/golf resort during their off season when the prices are less outrageous. We stay up too late, drink too much wine and eat far too many snacks and deserts. We wouldn’t have it any other way. I plan for it financially and in my fitness and diet regime and go with a clear conscience. We meal plan and do our own cooking so there are no restaurants involved. The ones who want to can spend several hours a day hiking the hills. By splitting the costs of the condo, groceries and bringing our own wine we have a fabulous 4 day weekend for $200 each. Can’t beat that.

  3. Fun post. I think it’s great to have goals but I think the journey is important too. Finding balance is not always easy. My wife is a dietitian and indulging from time to time is important but when indulging becomes too common is when you lose sight of the goal. Just remember, we’ve seen people focus too much on saving at the cost of enjoying the moment only to find that something happens (like health) to prevent them from enjoying the money they save!

  4. When you have specific entertainments that you wish to fund, a simple thing to do is set aside the money to pay for it in perpetuity.

    For instance, if a $150 Ribfest is an annual entertainment that you enjoy, then save $150 x 25 = $3750. [The 25 multiplier comes from the 4% safe withdrawl rate]

    My own entertainment goals include fast Internet access and auto racing. Needless to say, auto racing is not the most frugal of activities, so my financial capacity for participating is limited.

  5. Most of these situations would certaintly involve alcohol. I can remember ordering $30 worth of pizza at 2am after a “few” drinks, and not really wanting that pizza after the 45 minute wait 🙂

    But like Jim said, if you can’t enjoy the journey then what’s the point? If that’s not your every day lifestyle, then don’t beat yourself up over indulging for one day.

  6. At times, my wife and I have to force ourselves to loosen the reins on our “LBYM” obsession, and treat ourselves. I really don’t think its healthy to deprive yourself of those things that make you happy. Early retirement is a wonderful goal to strive for, and we are well on track in this, but the journey should not be without the odd bit of excess.

  7. It’s ok to let loose once in a while, especially for something you love. I actually think that spending a bit on enjoyment can help make your savings goals feel a bit more tangible since you can experience the fun of using the results!

  8. I tend to agree with everyone else. Spending money on what you love isn’t a problem once in a while. I know I just spent like $200 on wine last weekend myself and feel no guilt since I will be drinking it over the next year.


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