The Spend-Guilt Cycle


Hi again! I mentioned last week that I was undoing my spending spree. I did, and I did that pretty well, but then I ended up spending another little chunk of money on the weekend.

Renting a dress

There were comments last week encouraging me to borrow a dress or wear something old when I mentioned I was renting a gown. That really isn’t possible. The weddings I’ve been to recently haven’t been very formal, so I was fine wearing a sundress or something one might wear to cocktails. This awards gala I am attending this evening is strictly black tie, and the invite says “gowns or tuxes”. I popped over to a consignment shop last week, and anything remotely decent was in the $60+ range. I don’t have an off-the-rack figure, so I didn’t have any luck there, anyway. Luckily for me, some services allow you to rent a gown for a very reasonable rate! After taxes, I paid $128, and that includes return shipping and dry cleaning.

And guess what – my company won! It was a prestigious award, and it felt great to have our hard work acknowledged.

A new Christmas tree

The other big thing I spent money on is a new Christmas tree. The one I’ve used for my whole life was handed down to me from my dad, who purchased it in the late 80s. Fake pine needles fall off in droves every year, and last year it was so bare, I purchased garland to wrap around it. That helped fill it out a bit but looked strange. I ended up buying a beautiful 7.5 feet tall pre-lit tree for 50% off, at $149.99 (regular $299.99). That is an enormous amount of money. I came to the decision to purchase a new tree after taking my old one out of storage and seeing the dismal state it was in.

I waited for two weeks, scanning flyers and researching what would last the longest. I’m trying very hard not to buy plastic where I can avoid it, but I also can’t have a real tree. I scoured Kijiji and Craigslist for used options, but only found small apartment-sized trees. Ultimately, I decided to buy the new tree, justifying the purchase by acknowledging it’s my favorite holiday and time of year. I cry every year putting up my ornaments. I can’t wait to show you all a picture of my tree. My ornaments are my most prized and special possessions.

The guilt I’m feeling about this spending is enormous. I’m not sure how to reconcile my feelings. If I had to go back in time, I would rent the dress and buy the tree all over again. I’m confident in the decisions.  But I still hate parting with hard-earned money that could go to debt repayment.

Budget implications

The fact I can spend all of this and not touch my savings, my credit card, or my grocery money speaks volumes. This tells me my budget has way too much wiggle room. I have hundreds of unaccounted dollars every two weeks, and that’s not manageable or sustainable. I keep calling it a success if I don’t accrue debt. The truth is, I could be way more aggressive about paying down existing debt.

It’s an improvement that I now feel guilty about spending. I used to whip my cards out without thinking, and that has changed dramatically. Now what I need to do is get organized and make a real budget that I stick to. That’s been the hardest challenge for me all along, and I don’t think I can make real strides until I’m budgeting accurately.

I’m still doing fine financially, and I’ll share my monthly net worth update at the end of the month. I know I can do better, though.

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