All or Nothing?

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.

Ten years ago next month, I finished my very last University exam and was getting ready to enter the workforce, which turned out to be for the same company I’m working for now. At the time, I had very little knowledge about personal finance or really anything. What I did know was I was about 50 pounds overweight, and had a tonne of debt that needed to get repaid, that had been accrued via too much drinking and too many video games.

I think that at the time, I was just consuming most things to excess – too much crappy food, too much booze, too many nights out. I wasn’t really balancing any of my bad habits with good ones, which is what I think the main difference between 23 year-old Dave and 33 year-old Dave. At this point, I am much more able to self-moderate my spending (though not all the time) and try to balance off some terrible eating by being exceptionally good.

My wife is trying to get to this point – right now, she does much better with both a strict budget and diet (both self-imposed – I’m a little dense a lot of the time, but I do know better than to tell my wife of four years to go on a diet).

We set up our personal finances to ensure that my wife does not feel overly constricted by the amount of spending she was “allowed” on a monthly basis. We both figured it was better that she didn’t feel like she was getting “nothing” or she would overspend and our whole financial plan wouldn’t really work. Overall, she knew that the end goal was desirable (to be financially independent / retired at an early age), but on a monthly basis it would just be difficult to maintain the plan without some wiggle room.

From a diet standpoint, she finds it easier to have no “cheat” foods and just follow a super-strict plan. Given the opportunity, she knows that she would overindulge on fun foods, at the detriment of her end goal. She is currently following a “Whole 30” diet, which restricts dairy, sugar, grains, most processed fats and mainly consists of meat, nuts and seeds, and vegetables. Although not her favourite diet (she misses cream in her coffee), it seems to be the easiest one to follow because so much is restricted.

Adam Carolla (podcaster) likes to state that he wouldn’t be an alcoholic because he likes booze too much and would have to give it up then. I feel the same way about junky food and (moderately priced) impulse buys. I like to be able to do this too much to do it too often…..I don’t want to go on a food or spending diet, so I moderate. I think my wife would do fine without the self-imposed restrictions she has put in place, she just finds it easier to follow these constraints.

Are you an all-or-nothing person? Do you have a strict budget that you militantly adhere to, or is your spending more flexible?

3 thoughts on “All or Nothing?”

  1. I adhere to my budget militantly simply because I know if I want to achieve the big goals I’ve set for myself I need to stay on track as much as humanly possible. There will be lot of difficulties that life sends me, I don’t need to make more myself.

  2. each baby step is all-or-nothing with no turning back =P

    almost 100% strict with weekly spending limits. If I hit those, I’m easily on track to financial goals.

  3. Definitely moderate in most life areas. I’ve never had a budget. Never needed one. I track what I spend but it’s always been automatic to live within my means.
    Same for diets. Some stuff I don’t keep in the house, but I don’t avoid junk completely either.

    In both areas I don’t want to feel bad about spending and eating in case my life is short. I want to enjoy the process. I will early retire regardless, so I don’t worry about putting it off a few years by buying some fun stuff now.

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