Caving to your craving… once in a while

Between the state of the economy and the upcoming holidays, I expect that stress levels will start peaking any time now. Perhaps you’ve got a mountain of bills and mortgage payments to be paid, and not enough money to take care of them. Add in the pressure of holiday gift buying and you’re probably ready to crack.

Now, there’s been a lot of talk lately about cutting back, tightening our belts and understanding the difference between what you need and what you want. Needs are defined as the things that you must have in order to exist – food, water, clothing, shelter, health care, transportation. Wants are defined as superfluous – things that you can live with or without. I say nertz to that! What’s the point in living if I can’t have, do or enjoy some of the things I want but don’t really need? Should I go without my Diet Coke in the middle of a hot day, just because it costs a buck and I’m supposed to use that dollar to pay down my credit card debt? Miss out on what’s going on with Brad, Angelina or Britney, just because People magazine is on my “desires” list? No way!

The truth is, denying all of your needs to save a few dollars is the surest way to totally bust your budget bubble. Consider the person on a diet, trying to lose a few pounds in a short period of time. They avoid all sugar or carbs or proteins by signing up for the diet du jour. After about five days of that, their body is absolutely craving some candy, bread or steak. Instead of indulging, once in a while, in a single miniature Snickers bar, a Dunkin Munchkin or a plain McDonald’s hamburger, they’re pigging out on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, or a dozen Krispy Kremes or a double Whopper with cheese. Diet sabotaged, merely because they couldn’t withstand the craving.

It’s the same thing with your financial diet. If you don’t indulge your cravings a little bit, now and again, you will sabotage your long term plans and goals. Even the experts acknowledge that a budget has to allow for some pleasures – entertainment, eating out, fun. The trick is to allocate a specific amount for joy; it doesn’t take much, a mere 5% or so of your budget is enough to keep you sane. Yes, your budget is strapped already, but if you don’t make room in it for you and your mental well being, you’re going to go postal!

Make the most of your entertainment allocation. Choose the activity or indulgence that means the most to you; the one that rejuvenates you, gets you back to your happy place. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to a sporting event, a night on the town, eating out, a good haircut or a foot massage. Necessities? Absolutely.

But, if your debt worries have reached the point beyond which a chocolate truffle or a glass of wine can help then you may need to take it to the next level. If you need to talk to someone about your debt, and how to get out of it, DebtStoppers attorneys are here to help. Just consider us an investment in your sanity.

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