I have a confession to make. Here goes (deep breath)…
Sometimes, it’s hard to be frugal.
There, I said it.
Let me give you a recent example. Late Wednesday, February 21, I was feeling pretty good, enjoying a bevvie at my local curling club (notice how all my stories revolve around curling?!) following our first game of a mixed bonspiel (we won, thanks for asking). But then, in the next 36 hours, things got ugly. Real ugly. In that time:
- Canada lost an absolute heart-breaker in a shoot-out against the USA in Olympic women’s hockey.
- Our men’s curling team lost their semifinal against the USA (a country which Canada had never lost to in Olympic curling), ensuring that Canada would not get gold at either team curling event (the women had already been eliminated by that point). I’m not gonna lie – this KILLED me.
- The zipper on my winter jacket broke, leading to a would-have-been-hilarious-if-it-wasn’t-so-incredibly-pathetic scene in my office where I could NOT figure out how to take the darn thing off (just picture it – the zipper is stuck at the very top so I can’t pull apart the two sides, so I’m trying to pull the jacket off over my head but the opening is too small and my arms are stuck inside the sleeves because I don’t have enough room to pull them out… seriously, I can’t make this stuff up), causing my spirits to plummet even further as I realized that all my stuff is falling apart (slippers, my old mukluks, and now my jacket)… and all at the same freakin’ time, no less!!
- Tina Fontaine’s accused killer was found not guilty, all while the USA was still dealing with the aftermath of a mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and Canada was still grappling with the acquittal by an all-white jury of a white farmer who fatally shot a young Indigenous man in the back of the head at point-blank range.
- Our men’s hockey team lost to Germany in their semifinal.
- Our men’s curling team lost their bronze medal game, meaning we were kept off the podium ALTOGETHER in BOTH team curling events. (I’m still not completely over this.)
It was all too much. I felt utterly and completely gutted. I was so down in the dumps, the pain was physical – I felt as though a 50-pound anvil was resting on my chest. I kept my office door closed for the better part of two days so as not to infect my colleagues with my foul mood.
At this point, you may be wondering whether any of this has anything at all to do with money.
Well, it does. You see, feeling so unbelievably crappy made me want to spend money. Like gobs of it. It made me want to say ‘fuck it’ to all the good spending / saving habits I’ve cultivated over the last few years and go out on a total spending bender. I wanted to throw out my crappy lunch of leftovers and treat myself to a restaurant meal, I wanted to throw out my crappy outfit and treat myself to a whole new sophisticated-yet-edgy wardrobe, I wanted to throw out my crappy winter coat (which now requires a paper clip to zip up) and buy three new ones. I wanted new black high-heeled boots, and flat-heeled ones too. And both in brown as well. I wanted an A&W Teen Burger, I wanted a new couch, I wanted a peanut buster parfait, I wanted a new van, I wanted anything, I wanted everything.
In the end, did I buy any of those things? No, I did not. I’d like to say it’s because I was able to masterfully resist the spending urges, but the honest truth is that I was just too busy to act on them… I had ringette practices and games to shuttle my daughter to, hockey practices and games to shuttle my sons to, meals to make, homework to assist with, curling games to play and karaoke songs to sing (true story).
So, what exactly is the point of this big, long story? Well, I guess the point is that sometimes there are emotional reasons why we spend. Obviously, this can be disastrous for anyone’s budget because if you’re shopping in that frame of mind, you’re likely buying stuff you don’t really need, or spending more than is necessary on things you actually do need. But even if you indulge in such ‘retail therapy’, there’s no need to beat yourself up about it. Just learn from it and the next time it happens, try to recognize those spending urges for what they are, and remember that eventually those emotions will subside and the moment will pass.
In the meantime, you may want to keep your wallet, especially your credit cards, on lockdown.