You are paying off your debt faster than ever, your budget is cranking on all cylinders and overall you are kicking financial @$$. Then you remember that Valentine’s Day is coming up and you need a nice gift and night out.
You could make a gift, but this is your wife and they are more than worth the expense. Besides you still have to plan a nice evening anyways. You could just stay in, but you haven’t had a night just the two of you in a while. So you decide to do it anyways.
Dinner is planned, check. Evening activity is decided, check. Gift is wrapped, check. You are ready with a night your wife will never forget.
Before going out you exchange gifts, you receive a gift certificate to your favorite golf course and she receives a beautiful pair of diamond earrings. You think to yourself, it is going to be OK. This is the day to celebrate your love for each other.
You head to dinner and order a nice filet and lobster, after all it is a prix fixe menu. The check comes, you take a deep breath and hand over your credit card.
Now on to the night’s activity. A nice evening at the art museum, a movie, wherever. You arrive at the entrance, tell the attendant there will be two of you and hand over your card, with a sigh.
You head home and lie in bed.
You believe she is thinking about how amazing the night was, but instead she is thinking about how you are going to be able to pay the credit card bill at the end of the month. She then thinks, well at least he had fun. All the while, you are running the numbers in your head to figure out what budget you can pull from to make ends meet.
If I just completely stressed you out, let me tell you, it is going to be OK!
Relapses happen. It is incredibly challenging to stick to the Financial Freedom Journey perfectly for life. Therefore, the Journey isn’t about never relapsing it is about your actions following the relapse.
Live and Learn
You need to sit down with your spouse and find out where you went wrong. Did you not properly budget for the day (or whatever the relapse was)? This tends to be very common. You know that the holidays come every winter and yet it is always a surprise for your budget.
Instead of panicking when November rolls around each year, instead figure out how much you spent last year and divide that by 12, now set that aside each month. Problem solved.
Were you not on the same page about what you both wanted? This tends to happen with my wife and me. I like “big” things that are memorable, while my wife is simple and would be fine with some homemade popcorn and a Netflix movie.
If you aren’t on the same page, dig into why and find a way you both can be happy with the night that is planned.
If the relapse was because you were “window” shopping and you pulled the trigger on a new purse or a Christmas Story leg lamp. Then debrief on why that happened. Should you never go “window” shopping again. If you enjoy it, should you set a budget for it each month or just leave your wallet at home.
Look Towards the Future
A relapse is actually healthy and can tell you a lot about who you are. However, it is important that when it happens you examine why it happened and correct the situation. This will ensure it never happens again or at least less frequently.
Besides, if you bought something and you now feel buyer’s remorse go return it. I promise the store won’t get mad at you.
The worst case scenario you are stuck with the charges. You have delayed your debt payment by a little. It happens, learn from it and move on. That is the only way to achieve Financial Freedom.