This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.
My wife has a very interesting negotiating tactic – special occasions. Generally, these special occasions involve food, and are not foods we would normally eat. A special occasion could be anything, for example, we somehow ended up at Harvey’s last weekend for double cheeseburgers because it was a holiday. Now don’t get me wrong, Harvey’s hamburgers are probably the best hamburgers out there, but I could have made comparable food at home, which would probably be a little cheaper and healthier. Another of her favourite “occasions” is when she is sick, in which case normally pizza is the only thing on the menu (although my home-made pad thai is making up ground on it lately).
These situations are of course ridiculous – we both understand this, but about 90% of our lives we a pretty healthy diet. The odd time, we really just don’t feel like eating this, and these “occasions” are just a way to have things that we normally wouldn’t have.
I think that this way of thinking is similar to how people get into debt trouble. Lots of people decide that they “need” things and use this need as an excuse to buy whatever this perceived need is. These “needs” could be things like vacations to relax from a hectic life, a bigger house to hold all the stuff you own or a myriad of other “stories” made up.
Personal finance is no different from most areas of life – if my wife and I never ate “bad” food, we would probably be a little less happy, similar to not being able to buy anything “fun”. Some people are able to justify a purchase, whatever their economic standing. I don’t think I’m any better in this way, all I know is, if my wife and I ate unhealthy food as often as we found occasions to eat it we would be poorer from the food bills and bigger than we would like to be.
What it boils down to is knowing your weaknesses and ensuring that whatever justifications you have made up for a purchase don’t put you in a position that you can no longer achieve your financial goals (or in my case, allow me to walk up a flight of stairs).
So, now you know how my wife and I allow ourselves to completely destroy our otherwise impeccable diet. I’m wondering if we’re on our own in having peculiar methods to otherwise mar a perfect plan? Have you ever talked yourself into buying something that you thought you needed, but really didn’t, only to regret it later?