Sometimes it’s hard to stick to a budget. But that shouldn’t make you feel ashamed. How to get over feelings of shame and deprivation when things are hard and your financial goals aren’t working? Here’s some money therapy.
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Episode Transcript (provided by our Patrons and done by DSW Transcription)
# OMD DO NOT GIVE UP 10.23.2019 TS.mp3
[00:00:00] Reminder: we’ve just started a video version of the show, so you can actually see the glitter that we bring to personal finance. You can watch, as well as listen, at ohmydollar.com/video
[00:00:12] Welcome to Oh My Dollar!, a personal finance show with a dash of glitter. Dealing with money can be scary and stressful. Here, we give practical, friendly advice about money that helps you tackle the financial overwhelm. I’m your host, Lillian Karabaic.
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[00:00:45] This episode was underwritten by the Tamsen G Association, Warrior Queen, and Chris Giddings. Please welcome our newest patrons and members of the Personal Finance Society that joined this week: Galena S., Laurel D., and L.J.. To learn more, you can visit [ohmydollar.com/support](file:///tmp/d20200122-4-bw3kx6/ohmydollar.com/support).
[00:01:03] Well, we’re supposed to be in the middle of healthcare month, right now, at Oh My Dollar!, but frankly, I need to take a break. I really need to take a pause from looking at people’s ER bills, line by line, and formularies, and reading depressing healthcare-news websites, and just generally losing my will to live over what it takes to stay alive in the United States.
[00:01:24] So, today, we’re gonna talk about something totally different – what to do when your budget isn’t working for you, when to know when to quit anything you’re doing with your money, and how to deal with feelings of deprivation in your budget. This all kind of came up to me because we’re about to wrap up Budgetober on the Oh My Dollar! forums. That’s been a month-long Halloween kind of budgeting challenge that we’ve been doing.
[00:01:50] There’s a few different things I’ve noticed that have played out. First off, a lot of people are finding what they thought they spent their money on isn’t really what they spent their money on. Things that have been coming up a lot are things that they kind of write off or convince themself that they don’t spend a lot of money on actually really do add up. Those are Ubers, snacks at work, dining out … Groceries are some of the big ones.
[00:02:13] A lot of people are finding that when their money evens out in the end, they do a lot of, “Oh, it’s fine. I’m saving. I’ve kind of got control over it,” but they might actually be overspending their income, or maybe they’re not really living within their means. They’re using little side income, or something like that to fill in the buffers. They think that they spend within their means, but then when they look at it, they’re like, “Oh, maybe I actually don’t.”.
[00:02:38] A few participants are highlighting what I’ve already found – every single month ends up having something special in it. You can try to convince yourself that this month was an exception, but there’s always something. I’ve been budgeting, and tracking my expenses for over a decade, at this point, and I’ve never had a month look the same; even though I think a lot of people have this mental image that the budget is very regimented, and it’s sort of a thing that like, “Oh, it will always be the same.” But, it turns out, life happens, and the budget’s all about rolling with the punches.
[00:03:14] One of the things is that one month, the groceries end up being really high because you stocked up, or because you were doing a ‘no eating out’ challenge, and you were really proud of yourself, but then you ran out to Trader Joe’s and got yourself a treat almost every other day. Another month, you spent a lot on medication and also Ubers to work because you were sick, and you didn’t want to take public transit. Another month your cat eats a bicycle inner tube, and you spend a bunch on emergency vet bills.
[00:03:42] There’s always something, right? It’s easy to tell yourself that this month was special, but when you start tracking, you start to realize that there’s always something – there’s always a wedding; there’s always higher grocery expenses – and that, really, learning to budget is learning to roll with those lumpy expenses, those kinds of budgets.
[00:03:59] I think the most important thing to remember is that a budget is not a legally binding contract that can never be changed. In reality, you should really change your budget. It’s a learning process. Hopefully, you can eventually find a budgeting system that works for you in some form, but, in the end, it might not be working. What you’re trying to do or maybe what has always worked before doesn’t work for your lifestyle now.
[00:04:23] Maybe you had kids, and the meticulous spreadsheet-tracking no longer works when you’re sleep deprived from staying up with a newborn. Maybe you need to move to kind of an anti-budget; something that’s more automatic. Maybe when you were paying off debt, and you were really excited to use your bullet journal, you were really enjoying coloring in different squares; but now that your student loans are paid off, you’re like, “Oh, I actually don’t really care as much about this, and I dread dealing with the budget every single week.”.
[00:04:52] I think what’s important to understand is that budgeting is not a- the budget is not the end goal. The end goal is to be comfortable, and have a healthy money relationship, and be on track to meet your financial goals. It’s having control over your day-to-day, and month-to-month finances. But that looks different for everyone, and it might very well look completely different for you, now, than it did for you, even six months ago.
[00:05:18] I think one factor that really comes into sitting down and assessing if what you’re doing with money is working for you is, if you have constantly bad feelings around it, probably your current method isn’t working for you. So, if you find yourself really dreading sitting down with the budget because it turns out you don’t really like it, if you feel like you’re always – even though you’re on track to meet your financial goals – you’re always feeling unsettled about money, then maybe that means that your method isn’t working for you, and you need to adapt and change.
[00:05:53] Quite a lot of people were really excited about participating in Budgetober, because, largely, they had gone on autopilot with their finances, but they felt like maybe there were some areas that they needed to check in on. They were like, “Oh, this is just a one-month check-in,” and that’s totally valid. You don’t have to pick a budgeting method that you have to pick for the rest of your life. You might be kind of on autopilot with your money and then you realize, “Oh, I just wanna check in and make sure I’m not overspending in this one area,” or, “I only really wanna track this one thing because this is the thing that brings me stress; otherwise, constantly worrying about money is actually making me feel worse.” So, it really depends.
[00:06:35] The thing I do wanna reassure you is, if you’ve just started out with budgeting, it’s totally normal to just feel like a failure at it for the first couple months. It’s a skill that you actually have to practice. It’s not the kind of thing where just because you know how to use a spreadsheet, or just because you know how to check your bank account means that you understand budgeting. I think one of the big things with budgeting is that we often don’t think about a lot of things, if we’re kind of just handling our money, either paycheck-to-paycheck, or were even more secure, so we’re just kind of ignoring it because we’re like, “Oh, it’s fine. As long as there’s money in the account, it’s fine.”.
[00:07:13] Once you actually start actively participating in your money, a lot of people discover, “Oh, my gosh, I totally forgot we have annual fees for a lot of things, or we have to pay school fees,” or, “I had no idea we were spending this much on groceries,” or, “Oh, I always told myself that this bill was really expensive just in the summer when we have air conditioning on, but actually, it’s just as high in the winter because of the heating bill.” There’s a lot of things that it’s only by tracking and finding a way to track for you – that you figure out – that it works for you.
[00:07:46] I also know a lot of people that, when they first start budgeting, they try to use whatever app someone recommended to them. Maybe you tried to use YNAB because that’s what I use, and I recommend it on the show all the time (Link in the description, if you’re interested in trying it out). You try it out, and you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I have no idea how to handle credit cards. I totally can’t get into this,” or it doesn’t link with your bank; you just feel really bad because it’s not working. That might mean you need to switch methods.
[00:08:13] Quite a few people ended up using methods on the forums that were just like taking cash out and spending that cash until it was gone for discretionary expenses. That’s a totally valid form of budgeting. It’s also the first month – you’re gonna feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. You just don’t know any of the categories, or expenses. But the second month, it gets a little easier.
[00:08:33] If you’ve ever watched a baby kitten try to hunt a toy, I feel like this is a perfect example because, when they first start out, their aim is totally off. They will be trying to chase a pipe cleaner around the floor, and they literally jump in a completely opposite direction. It’s very adorable, but, man, their aim is pretty bad. They’re pretty wobbly … That’s kinda hat the first month of budgeting is like.
[00:08:59] The second month you start budgeting, it’s gonna get a little easier because you’re working with more information. You’re like, I don’t know, a four-month-old kitten. You’ve been watching the other kittens. You’ve been figuring out what works for them. Maybe you even got some lessons from your Momma kitten, and then you start getting a little better aim. Then, the third month is where it really starts to click for a lot of people. So, if you’re brand new to budgeting, and this is your first month that you’ve been doing it, it is okay to be like, “Oh, this is just hard. It’s just not working.”.
[00:09:29] I recommend trying it out for a little while longer, but also recognize you have permission to change. Just because you sat down one day and decided that this budget is the budget – that’s fine. You just need to try it out, and then you can move on, and change the budget when it moves. It’s not the perfect … There is no such thing as the perfect budget. It’s something that you actually want to do, want to adapt to, and helps you meet your financial goals. It’s completely adaptable.
[00:09:54] How do you know if the method that you have isn’t working for you? How do you know when to stop? If you dread doing the budget because the task is really onerous … Perhaps you’re doing weekly tracking, like you’re participating in Budgetober. You try it, and you’re like, “Man, this is taking up a lot of time. A lot more money- time than I wanna be thinking about my money.”.
[00:10:15] Well, one of the options is to try something else out. If you feel like it’s really time-consuming relative to the value you’re getting out of it, try something different. Try monthly; maybe try quarterly budgeting. Maybe it turns out that all you really want to track is one category, and the rest of the stuff is pretty worked out because it’s regular expenses, or stuff that you know that you’re usually pretty good at reining yourself in on. Maybe you’re discovering, while you have certain intentions, they don’t match your actions.
[00:10:44] A great example of this is maybe you’re paying for a gym membership, or a meal-prep service because you have every intention of being one of those people that goes to the gym at 5:00 a.m. every morning before you go to work. Also, you’re gonna get home and make a healthy homemade meal every night. In reality, you just have sweet potatoes going bad in your fridge, and you haven’t been to the gym in months. Now, you’re actually ashamed to go because you don’t want the employees to see how long it’s been since you’ve checked in when you check in. Well, maybe that’s a case where your intentions and your actions are not matching up and that might be place where you wanna reassess your budget.
[00:11:22] I think one thing is that a lot of people get trapped in this feeling of shame around their money, where they feel like they should be a better version of themself than they are, and they try to use their budget as a way to get there. Leading from a place of shame and deprivation really never makes you feel better about things. A lot of people don’t realize that they are leading with that, but when they sit down, they realize, “Oh, this is why I feel really bad when I try to work on my money is because I feel like I’m not being the best version of myself, and I wanna punish myself with my budget.”.
[00:11:54] Maybe your budget’s not working just because you’re consistently underestimating a category. So, great example for me: I think two or three years ago, I started separating out my grocery budget into coffee that I bought to make-at-home treats, which was a vague category, but I know what I mean by it, which is essentially things that are non-necessary.
[00:12:15] This is late-night snacks that I run to get; ice cream; pretty much anything sugar, or fried, and put in a bag. That’s what I’ve really considered the treats category to be. Very occasionally, it will be something like a fancy premade smoothie, or something like that, that I’ll put in the treats category. Essentially, they’re not my base groceries. They’re just things I get to be nice to myself because food is the main way I show affection to myself.
[00:12:43] The treats budget, I started tracking separately from my regular categories. When I first did this, I had years, and years of data on my grocery expenses, and I kinda made the assumption, like, oh, most of what I get is regular groceries. I only get a treat maybe once a week, so it’s not gonna be very much. Every month I’d say, “Oh, it’s a $15 treats budget for the month.” Every single month, I had to move money from the grocery budget to the treats budget.
[00:13:09] The good news was that I wasn’t going over in both categories, but it turns out treats are a lot more expensive than groceries. So, if I spend $4 on a bag of chips, when I could’ve spent $4 on enough produce to make myself several meals, that’s one of the reasons … It doesn’t matter how often I get treats, they’re just more expensive per serving because of what I consider treats, which is often pre-prepared, or very processed food.
[00:13:36] It turns out that I just had to change the budget. There was this part of me that dwelled on the fact that, “Oh, maybe you should just reduce the amount you spend on treats. Are you even that satisfied when you eat an entire bag of ghost pepper chips at 8:00 p.m. instead of making dinner? Maybe you should just actually live within a $15-a-month treat budget.” But, in reality, I wasn’t in a situation where I was going to adjust that, and I would feel bad every month, when I’d have to move things over. I just ended up having to change the budget for that.
[00:14:09] One thing you might notice is that you’re cheating constantly on your budget, and you can totally cheat. One way I cheat is that because I run my own business, I have a lot of expenses that are business expenses and are very defensible as business expenses because my business is largely tied to myself. I work from home. A lot of my side projects are tangentially tied to the business, like making videos, and needing video equipment, and stuff like that. One way I cheat my budget is I hide stuff in my business account because it doesn’t affect my personal budget data. It’s still money that I earned, and I spent, but I kind of mentally disassociate from the idea that that money has been spent because I don’t have to enter it in my budget.
[00:14:55] If you find yourself consistently cheating, then it might be a sign that maybe the way you’re budgeting isn’t working for you. Maybe you’re cheating by, “Oh, I buy myself a gift card, and I don’t count it,” or, “I get gift cards to this place, and I don’t track it because it’s just fun money,” or something like that. I’ve had a lot of jobs that have paid me in cash, and for years, I got a job that paid me $25 a week, in cash, in a bag full of bagels, so the cash was always garlic-scented. It was really great! I used that as my budget for going out. Essentially, my budget for going out was $25 a week, and when the cash was gone, it was gone.
[00:15:37] In essence, it was a good method for budgeting because I never went over that amount. When the cash ran out, it ran out. But the downside of this was that I really was concealing how much money I was spending on going out. I was spending hundred dollars a month on going out. I almost never had cash leftover at the end of the month, and I didn’t really feel great about that.
[00:16:00] I was cheating because I didn’t want to address the feeling that I wasn’t living up to my best self, which was not someone who went out to happy hour every other day. Largely, for me, this was because I was busy writing a thesis, and that was- the closest coffee shop to my house was also a bar. I wrote a lot of my thesis at that bar. That was a justification I was using for myself was, oh, because it’s in cash, it doesn’t count, and I just use this job to account for that money. But, in reality, I was kind of cheating and lying to myself rather than addressing how I actually felt about things.
[00:16:37] One reason you might be failing with a budget, and you might wanna stop, and change course, is that you don’t have buy-in from someone you share expenses with. It could be that you don’t have buy-in from your partner, your roommate, really anyone, in that case, that you share some expenses with. This can be extremely hard.
[00:16:56] I always recommend- we have a whole episode about how to bring a partner into budgeting, and how to work with a partner with budgeting. I always recommend the leading by example. If you can’t get buy-in from them, if they don’t think they have a problem with money, then it’s easier to just lead by example, so they can see that you’re feeling better about things, you’re less stressed about things. Then, maybe they’ll get a little interested in it.
[00:17:21] That being said, if they’re actively fighting it, if they’re going, “Oh, hey, I know you wanna save money, but we should go out tonight because it’s so-and-so … So-and-so is having a thing at the bar or …” all of the time, there’s just little ways they’re chipping out, or they’re just actively making fun of you. They’re like, “Ugh … It’s so silly that you wanna do this budgeting thing. You’re trying to be an adult …” or whatever. That might be a reason why you’re failing at the budget.
[00:17:45] This is one of those things where it’s easy to blame the budget, and it’s easy to root it in deprivation, but it’s actually more about an interpersonal situation. Money brings up a lot of those interpersonal situations. It really is just a magnifier for any other kind of problems in your life. Money just brings a lot of those things to the forefront.
[00:18:07] For me, I’m a pretty anxious person, and I have to do a lot of things with my budget in order to kind of pad out the anxiety because, otherwise, I will use money as a laser way to focus all of my anxiety. I’ll use the, “Oh, my gosh, I didn’t bring in …” tracking the numbers, “I didn’t bring in this much last month,” so I’m going straight into all-or-nothing thinking, which is like, “Oh, I made $100 less last month, and therefore, that’s only gonna go down every month, and it’s only gonna take a year before I’m completely destitute, and making $0, and I’m living, eating cat food in a tin on the side of the road.” We like to call it my inner bag lady (This is credited to Lhamo on the forums). But she’s strong. She’s there. She’s always telling me that something is going to go wrong.
[00:19:02] I had to change a lot of my strategies with the way that I was dealing with my money in order to calm that inner anxiety monster that likes to attack things. I think one of the things that I have really appreciated has been seeing what other people on the forums have done to try to tackle the way that they adjust the method that they’re doing money. It might be the specific budgeting app they’re using; it might be that they might move from tracking to not tracking to get rid of anxiety.
[00:19:36] For me, one of the big things is that I implemented a lot of buffers. I built up a lot of savings that, mathematically, it might not make the most sense to not have that in invested in something, but, for me, I get way too anxious if I don’t have at least one month extra buffer in my checking account just sitting there. I’m okay with that. I’ve learned that comes from the way that I’ve handled money before; the fact that I’m a really anxious person. That’s what makes the budget work for me is having that buffer. It’s not so much about it being an emergency fund, it’s about it being a mental buffer.
[00:20:16] So, katscratch, on the forums, I really liked her recommendation, which was, “There’s no other way for me, at my income level, to have a life that isn’t miserable when my spending budget is already lean. I’ve done that before, for years at a time, and in the overall scheme of my life, I’m not really ahead because of it. In fact, the stress and anxiety of always feeling broke and just stuck caused me health problems,” which we all know, in our healthcare system, costs money … Hey, we got a little healthcare mention in, even though it’s not … We’re taking a break from healthcare month.
[00:20:47] “A couple of years ago, I took my tax for a refund, and instead of putting it in savings, or paying off debt, I used it to create a buffer in my checking account and, therefore, my budget. Since then, the lumpy expenses have been no issue, and I’ve gone back to my regular savings rate. My total savings down the line isn’t affected at all because not having diverted that money to long-term savings, and the present payoff was huge for both my emotional health around money, and my ability to make the budget work for my actual life.
[00:21:14] I also change my budget categories pretty regularly; once a year, for sure; maybe more often. If I notice tracking a specific thing is causing me stress, I’ll recategorize it, and lump it into a bigger category, or I’ll change the name to reflect my actual values instead of reflecting self-criticism.” I think this is excellent advice from [katscratch](https://forum.ohmydollar.com/u/katscratch) on the forums.
[00:21:33] One big thing for me is that I use the categories to … I use the category names- one, with the software I use, I can put cute emojis in them, but I also use them to reflect my overall goals. So, I have a thing called Wish Farm, and it gives me such delight when I have a little bit of extra money to fill up the Wish Farm. The Wish Farm includes things like I wanted to dye my hair pink and purple, which was not a cheap expense.
[00:22:01] I think we’ve mentioned this before. I have black hair. It’s very expensive to get a professional to bleach it, which only a professional could bleach it because, otherwise, I’d burn off all my hair, and it was very expensive to do it, but I explicitly poured money into the Wish Farm category knowing that I wanted to do this. It’s a silly thing, right? But it gave me a lot of joy to be able to do that, and it eased the idea of doing what felt very frivolous, and completely ridiculous to do.
[00:22:31] One thing for me is that I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a whim, and the fact that I’d been putting money into that category for six months before I actually did it reassured me that I was willing to put my money into that category, so that must mean I actually do wanna do it. At some point, this will have to go away because it’s fiscally not sustainable, but I think it was a good choice.
[00:22:50] I think it’s really interesting to watch how different people are doing it. Another person on the forums, Oro essentially didn’t participate in Budgetober because Oro said, “Hey, I know that it’s gonna cause me more stress and anxiety to participate in a weekly tracking exercise,” and I was like, “That’s really important!”
[00:23:08] One last thing you can do is, if you’re really having trouble sticking to your goals, or it’s feeling really challenging with your budget, is assess if maybe the administration is just too onerous for you. So, we talked about maybe you need to move from weekly, to monthly, or quarterly, or even annual- I know some people that do annual.
[00:23:27] Maybe it’s just that you’re using a piece of software, or a spreadsheet where you dread having to enter in everything, every time. Maybe you need to move to one of the methods where you just use automatic things, and accounts, and all you have to do is transfer money into savings automatically each month and, you know, not overspend your checking account. That can be a really good method for staying on track without having to have really onerous administration, if you’re someone that tends to reject that.
[00:23:55] Those are some of the reasons why you might want to reassess if maybe your budget isn’t working for you. I think it’s really easy for people to want to punish themself by the budget. They view budgeting as like a thing that they have to do because they’ve made mistakes, and they’re caught up in feelings of shame, and deprivation around money. They don’t realize that maybe it’s just the method. Maybe that method is just not working for them. Right after this break, we’ll talk more about ways to deal with that feeling of deprivation, when it comes to your money.
[00:24:28] A quick reminder that my is supported by listeners like you through our Patreon, also known as the Purrsonal Finance Society, and by sponsors. Folks that pledge $1 or more per month get stickers, perks on our forum, and they can learn more at ohmydollar.com/support
[00:24:47] We’re back from break. If you get that feeling, that kind of unsettled feeling, when you think about money – often, for a lot of people, it manifests as either headache, or a stomach ache – particularly if you feel yourself feeling discouraged about money, no matter what you do, it feels like you’re never making progress – no matter how many times you run the numbers, you just feel like it doesn’t work – you might be dealing with feelings of deprivation. There’s a bunch of- deprivation is sort of a broad word, and maybe it sounds to therapy speak, but I think it’s at the root of a lot of people’s struggles with getting their finances on track.
[00:25:25] Deprivation, technically, is that feeling of emptiness, and longing for something. Quite often, you might not know what it is. You also might not realize that you are living with a feeling of deprivation because, often, the way it manifests is kind of counterintuitive. Deprivation is often accompanied by feelings of shame. If you’re in that category of people that maybe you’ve made choices with money in the past, or with your life in the past, that have led you to want to get your money together now, you might have a lot of shame about the past decisions that you’ve made. “Oh, I can’t believe I went to law school, and now I’m in this much debt,” or “Oh, when I went through that unemployment, I lived off credit cards, and now I have to deal with this credit card debt.”
[00:26:12] You may be rooted in feelings of shame. This even happens for people I know that aren’t dealing with debt. I think debt and shame are linked for a lot of people, but it might just happen with people that feel like they’re behind, right? I’ve never had well-paying jobs, and while I’ve been saving all along, I sometimes feel some shame about my money, when I see people that are 23 years old and are saving six figures at that point because they’ve always had well-paying jobs.
[00:26:42] I go, “Was it really worth it to live on a hippie commune? Was it really worth it to have punk-rock nonprofit jobs for years, if I’ve never made good money, and now, I’m super-behind on the savings curve?” It just makes me feel this feeling of shame, sometimes, and that often can end up manifesting in very counterintuitive ways, because if you’re mired in shame and feelings of deprivation when you deal with your money, it can be really hard to make new choices about money because if you don’t deal with those root feelings, you’ll just start making mistakes in new ways.
[00:27:19] If your budget is like wrapped up in shame, or if you’re dealing with feelings of deprivation, either related to money, or in the rest of your life, ultimately, you’ll probably end up making the same mistakes in different ways with money. Unmet needs, which you might not have been the cause of … This might have to do with your upbringing, past relationships, any of it … These unmet needs will expand over time, and they will eventually magnify deprivation. Attempts to deal with deprivation – whether or not you know you have it – can take many forms.
[00:27:54] One method that I definitely fall into is overdoing. Overdoing is when you feel overwhelmed, confused, panicky. You’re the kind of person that’s running late all the time, or running over, or is constantly saying yes to things, even when you know you don’t have the resources to do it. Overdoers tend to constantly live in a state of being overcommitted, and overextended in one, or all three of the areas of time, energy and money, which are really the three areas that overdoers tend to promise more than they can deliver, right?
[00:28:33] Some other people will tend to go the opposite way, which is that … The overdoers are the people that will say they’re not gonna eat out this month, and also, they’re going to cut their grocery expenses, and they’re gonna put $800 towards their debt. At the same time, they’re gonna look for a new job, and they’re gonna crush it at work, and get overtime. Then they end up doing none of those things because it’s too much all at once, and they’re trying to create projects to make themselves feel like they can handle it.
[00:29:05] Overdoers are the kind of people that will try to compensate for feelings of deprivation by shopping their way out of it. Some people go on a buying frenzy because they feel deprived, so they try to fill that hole with buying objects. They’ve never had much, and/or they have plenty of money, but they are feeling deprivation in other areas of their lives, so they try to use buying something, or holding onto things as a way to fill that deprivation.
[00:29:36] Then some people go the totally opposite direction, which is that feelings of deprivation wrapped in feelings of shame will make them convince themselves that they should just go completely without. These are the kind of people that duct-tape their car together forever. Maybe it works for a little while for being frugal, but it’s not a great long-term solution for some people. I don’t own a car. Maybe duct-taping a car is fine.
[00:30:00] Or you’re in this situation where you feel like maybe because you have shame wrapped up in it, you deserve … For whatever your past choices with money, or your life are, you feel like deprivation is what you deserve – kind of internally – and you’ll just make do or go without for things that you might really very much need. I know quite a few people that will buy up stuff that they don’t need. They’ll go on a shopping spree at Forever 21, but then they’ll not buy medication that they need.
[00:30:35] Often, that’s rooted in this feeling of shame deprivation, where they don’t feel like they deserve to get the things that they need to stay healthy. But that ends up manifesting in overbuying something they totally don’t need. At the end, that feeling of deprivation, you can never get enough of what you don’t need – buying stuff you don’t need, and spending money in ways that you don’t need it … You’ll try to use it as a Band-Aid, but you have to actually deal with those feelings of shame and deprivation.
[00:31:09] I am no therapist, but what I will tell you around deprivation, and shame, and self-blame about how I deal with money, and what I have seen successful in other people – short of a deep-dive into your soul and trying to figure it out – is that I like to, one, focus on the positives. So, I know a lot of people that, really, they feel like their financial situation is out of control. Maybe they have spiraling debt and no income right now, or they feel like they don’t have a lot of impact on it because they are on a fixed income; they’re on like Social Security disability, or something like that. They just feel like they’ll never be able to get ahead, so they kind of wanna give up.
[00:31:53] I think focusing on the positives and the feelings of control have been really great for me. One thing that I do when I’m feeling really broke, and I’m feeling that panicky feeling – which often, for me, isn’t even that I’m broke in that moment; it’s that impending feeling of doom because I always assume the worst is coming. I have that impending feeling of doom and, therefore, I’m panicked about money, and I want to avoid looking at it. But then, in the end, that control is actually what saves me.
[00:32:20] So, I sit down with the budget, and I go, “Okay, in the worst-case scenario, what would I do?” I plot out, and then, “What if I only had $600 come in next month?” All of the things that I’m worried won’t come through – sponsor deals, whatever – don’t come through. How would I survive off $600? What would I do? What money would I take savings out of? What expenses would I cut? I’ll plot that out, and that feeling of control will end up making me feel way better. I rarely leave a budgeting session, even when I’m feeling really broke, feeling worse than I did before. That works for me because I’m one of those overdoers, so I need a really concrete task to work on to feel a little better about things.
[00:33:04] I think one of the things, if you’ve got this feeling of deprivation, and you always are convincing yourself that you need to do without, one thing you can do is force yourself to budget for things that you do know you need. I use the budget as a means of kind of encouraging myself to do things. One thing that you can do for that is just pick one thing that you know you need. Could be you know you need to pay the copay on going to see the therapist. You know that you need to actually shell out for a brand name versus a generic of some regular thing because it’s that much better, or whatever it might be. Using that budget can help you sort of slowly overcome that consistency of doing without as a self-punishment.
[00:33:55] I guess the last thing is just … This is just me talking to you. I have to tell myself this, sometimes, myself. You deserve to feel like your money is within your control. You deserve to not feel deprived. It does not matter what life circumstances you’ve had, leading up to this moment. You are not a person that deserves to feel like your money is out of control. You should not feel punished by your money. You deserve to feel in control of it, and it is okay to make the choices to deal with the stress in your life so that you can then deal with the stress of your money.
[00:34:34] It’s okay to sit back and reassess what is making your life hard and deal with that before you move on to your money because I think it’s really easy – knowing that these things are linked – to get looped up in this feeling of, “Well, if I don’t address the money thing, then I’m never going to address these feelings, and because I’ll just keep having them …” not realizing that, sometimes, you can truly separate them, and, sometimes, it’s okay to assess and deal with things you’re feeling as a person before you try to deal with the whatever it is in your expenses.
[00:35:07] So, I hope that’s a helpful note to end on. One thing I’d love to hear about is maybe what your things you like to budget for that actually make you feel good and give you some hope. For me, I love sending money to savings. It makes me feel really good. I also like to set aside money for travel because travel is something that’s really fun, and it feels, to me, very frivolous – the amount of travel I do. But I always really enjoy it, so setting that money aside, sometimes years in advance, gives me quite a feeling of joy in my budget. So, I’d love to know what in your budget brings you joy and, if you want, what’s frustrating you right now? What isn’t working for you? Have you quit and restarted a budget before? Let me know.
[00:35:50] Well, that wraps our show for today. We love hearing from you. Email us your financial worries, or successes, or healthcare questions at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also tweet us @Anomalily or @Ohmydollar.
Oh My Dollar! is recorded at the XRAY.FM Studios in Portland, Oregon, and is syndicated through PRX. This episode was engineered and videographer by Chase Spross. Our intro music is by Aaron Parecki, and your host, and personal finance educator, is me, Lillian Karabaic. Thanks for listening and, til next time, remember to manage your money so it doesn’t manage you.