The “don’t do this” approach does not work. It is like a critical parent telling you not to have ice cream before dinner or drink that soda with your meal because it will ruin your appetite. The parent’s admonishment tends to make us want to do it even more!
‘All or nothing’ is a tempting trap for everyone. Imagine, if you will, a month where you promise not to buy anything you did not budget for. This is not too difficult once there is a pattern of buying significantly fewer non-essential items. However, over the course of the month, you may realize you want to enhance some areas of life. Suppose that in this month, because you had earned more money from side hustles while saving more money – it made it feasible to upgrade some items. At this point, one may choose to quiet the critical parent in their mind and rearrange the budget accordingly. Consequently, you can carefully choose a few items that you had been delaying purchasing and be able to spend that money guilt-free.
In this particular case, adding up the total of these unplanned purchases was only 5% of one person’s budget. Comparing this to the previous month’s extra expenditure amount of 11% revealed improvement! Yes, increments do work. We can aim to budget these non-essentials better in the future and leave yourself a margin of 3% (rule of 3!). Excess and comparisons are the “killer of joy”, but so is deprivation. As we keep learning that we are enough, we learn to be less critical of ourselves. We can spend on our wants in a responsible manner.
Editor: Melinda Kovacs