Sticking to a budget is a lot like sticking to a diet, except when you go on a financial “cheat day,” there’s a chance you might ruin more than your waistline.
You don’t have to sabotage your cash flow to treat yourself; there are ways to have the best of both worlds. For further insight into how you can live a financially secure life, GOBankingRates talked to Amanda Clayman, LCSW, a psychotherapist who specializes in financial wellness.
Keep reading to see how your money habits might be leaving you broke.
Beware the “Dissociative Splurge”
“There’s a period where we’re being very self-disciplined, we’re staying on our plan,” said Clayman. “But then what happens is it’s like we close our eyes and we just go into a ‘dissociative splurge’ — there’s a tension that sort of builds over that period of saying ‘no.'”
Clayman describes that much like restricting calories, pinching pennies feels like a punishment. Thinking like that, Clayman suggests, leads many to feel as if they can only budget on “good days” — and you might develop some toxic spending habits as a result.
“Then there comes a point where there’s a trigger — maybe it’s a bad day, maybe you look in your bank account and there’s more there than you thought there was,” she explained. “Instead of just going out and buying one thing, there’s a sense of all the energy comes out … but it’s also like we want to procure everything that we can.”
Your Budget Isn’t the Bad Guy
Clayman urges people to stop viewing the budget as a financial belt sucking all the joy out of our lives. Instead, she urges people to “build more fun into what’s happening in (your) budget.”
“It is possible to start to look at your finances even if they feel really scary and make you feel overwhelmed,” she added, noting that no matter how toxic your spending habits are, they too can be tackled.
Clayman advises making a routine, rather than viewing budget-building as one massive, looming undertaking.
“It’s not just a one-time deep dive,” she said. “We want to be able to take this in manageable chunks and really schedule what that time is going to be.”
Daily Dips and Rewards
Clayman suggests setting aside some time — preferably in a half-hour chunk — and looking over your budget. And then, she says, you should put it away.
Once you finish working on your budget, she says, give yourself a reward.
“We’re teaching ourselves that money isn’t this overwhelming thing,” said Clayman. “You really practice working through those feelings, you make incremental progress and get all of the information that you need, so that when you then need to start making adjustments to your money, you’re able to do that from a place of being informed and grounded in your financial reality, and not in a sort of impulsive or reactive sort of place.”
Click through to read more budget tips to live comfortably.