Slowly Sipping Coffee

We overspent… so what?

overspentWe have a problem in the SSC household, and it has to do with holding ourselves accountable. We do a fair job with most things, and the allowance system helps out a lot. However, I’ve noticed we have a different issue with accountability. We ran into a situation last weekend that has popped up several times this last year, and we can’t think of a good solution to our problem, so we need your help!

We are having trouble not justifying some large “one-time” purchases. For instance, this really started irritating me this last weekend when we bought a new TV. Here’s the situation – we bought our last TV in 2008 and it still works, but for the last year or so it has had images (mostly lines and letters) become burnt into the screen. I think from music channels being on over the holidays, but who knows. And how does that happen with a TV that’s only 6 years old?! That’s ridiculous! It hadn’t been super noticeable, but it is getting increasingly apparent, especially to Mr. SSC. So why are we replacing it you are asking? It doesn’t bother me one iota, but it irritates the heck out of Mr. SSC. So, a couple a weeks ago he mentioned he was going to wait until the Super Bowl TV sales and look for a replacement*. To which I told him if he could find a decent deal he could buy a new TV, as long as he stopped talking about it. So, this last weekend $500 flew out of our pockets for a new TV.

Then this made me think of the dining room set that we bought a couple of months ago. I’m not trying to point the blame at anyone in particular, but you can read about Mr. SSC’s hatred of our old kitchen table here. Again, to me, this was a “Just buy the new freaking table and stop talking about it!!!” situation. Just for a disclaimer – and so I’m not sleeping on the couch tonight – that’s not how they always play out, just the last few.

So what’s the problem you ask? Here’s the problem – and I know, I know, most people will think “I wish I had this problem”, but our problem is that we have a healthy savings rate, and buying a few of these expensive purchases a year isn’t really going to disrupt our expected FIRE date… so how do we hold ourselves accountable?

We spent most of our 20s working our butts off to get some pretty awesome jobs, so again these extra purchases don’t really hurt our savings rate, FIRE date, or interrupt any bills, as long as it only happens a couple times a year. I know some of this falls under the umbrella of lifestyle creep, as some of our big purchases are about replacing old items that we’ve had since we were poor grad students. Except for it making the next big purchase easier to justify next time, it’s not really hurting anyone now, so why not go ahead and replace the “enter item name here”?

I’ve made several suggestions to Mr. SSC as to how we could hold ourselves accountable. One idea, is that every time out credit card goes over a set amount (say $1500), then we have to split the overage from our personal ‘allowance’ funds. Another idea for big purchases would be that we have to ‘save’ for them. So like – if we want a TV, we would have to cut our spending to say $1400/month so that we can ‘save’ $100/month for that TV. Do you all have any other ideas about holding ourselves accountable? Because apparently just telling ourselves to save more money isn’t working…



*: Mr. SSC side note – This was a 2.5 month warning to test the waters on how feasible justifying a new TV purchase would be. I’d noticed some sales, but figured wait until a big TV sales event to purchase something.


6 thoughts on “We overspent… so what?

  1. Mrs. Maroon

    I don’t know what to tell you here. We are guilty of the rationalizations too. These days it’s mostly “in the grand scheme of things, it’s not going to kill us to spend an extra $500.” I will say that is a vast improvement from the days before we started focusing of FIRE. Then it went something like “it only takes me two days at work to pay for this.” Then again, maybe we should go back to that mentality – is this tractor (recent purchase) worth needing to work for an extra two days?

    BTW, the tractor is a 1941 Farmall that Mr. Maroon found for $450. While it is currently in pieces the garage, we plan to use it out on the farm during our retirement.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Hmmm… I was sure you all would have a perfect solution for us 🙂 Maybe I need to starting thinking about – if we don’t buy this, we can retire X days sooner… maybe that will put us in a better mind frame then a “well, it only takes 4 hours of our salary to pay for this”.

  2. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    We’re in a bit of a different boat where we won’t buy things because we didn’t put them in the budget, even though we probably should buy them. So, next year, we put $500 in the budget for planned spending, that’s not, well, planned. That might help you guys too? In a backwards kind of way?

  3. Mr. Captain Cash

    Mrs. SSC,

    I like your second idea the most of having to come up with additional ways to fund the purchase. Whether that results in making additional income or reducing expenses. Either way, after the purchase these newly formed habits may exist long into the future enabling you to save even more money down the road.

  4. Steve Adcock

    Nobody is perfect, and we’re all going to make purchase mistakes. You’ll never be able to completely rid your family of these, and I’m certainly not trying to do that with mine, either.

    When I make a larger purchase like that, I try to think about what’s truly going to make me happy. I mean, really happy. Like, every damn time I look at the television, I need to have a big, fat smile on my face knowing that even though I may have pushed my retirement back another month or so, I will gladly work that extra time so I can watch my precious sporting events on a 55-inch television instead of a 48-inch.

    And when I really consider what makes me happy, stuff like entertainment just doesn’t cut it any more. It used to back when I thought that “stuff” made me happy, but after the realization that all my toys in life were just costing me hard-earned money, I realized once and for all what TRUE happiness is all about in this life. It ain’t stuff!

    My wife and I want a really nice wooden kitchen table – one of those tables that look old-fashioned, intentionally jagged edges, nicely finished and super heavy. Like, it weighs a freaking ton.

    But, spending a grand on a kitchen table might bring temporary joy to our lives, but we both know it won’t truly bring us happiness. We’ll get used to the table eventually and then it’s just “there”. Not worth the cost. I’d rather retire a month or two earlier than be able to eat at a thousand-dollar dining room table.

    Different things make different people happy. But more times than not, when people truly think objectively about what brings a smile to their face, rarely is it those things that we spend the majority of our hard-earned money on.

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