We 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.