I’m going to be honest with you guys: November was really really hard for me. I’ve been struggling for the last month and a bit. The US election results, Jordan living in Calgary again, planning my upcoming move to Calgary, and a few other stressful things in my personal life has made the past few weeks unpleasant, to say the least. It’s been really hard and I’ve been struggling. How do you deal with your finances when you are struggling to deal, just simply deal, with the reality that is your everyday life?
Anyone who tells you that finances aren’t related to emotions is lying pure and simple (or very unaware of their own emotions, which is a different problem). I know that ideally we’d like to think that we are all completely rational with our money, but we know that’s not the case. People make silly, non-rational decisions in every are of their life, including their finances. I see this every day in the work that I do, helping people to sort out various problems in their lives. I also see this constantly in myself. The last few weeks have been a constant battle to feel like I am alright and in control of my life, rather than being swept away by the oncoming tide. This has absolutely affected my finances. There have been some days where the last thing I wanted to think about was my budget. I’ve spent money to cheer myself up and make myself feel better, even though I know it’s only a temporary feeling, because I needed just about any good moment I could get. Clearly, I made some not rational financial decisions.
The difference in all to this, compared to previous times that my life got overwhelming, is that I’ve made significant changes to my habits since then. I have used the frugal habits I’ve built up to shift my life to being somewhat on frugal autopilot. This means that there are lots of things I do to save money that I don’t even think about anymore; they’re just part of how I live my life. So, unlikely previously bad times in my life, I haven’t slipped into the same emotional spending traps as before, or at least not as badly. Yes, I still bought a few meals out but it was one or two a week, as opposed to one or two every day. I still made it a habit to cook for myself and bring my lunch to work. I also skipped going out to expensive places with friends entirely and had them over to my house instead. (I don’t think they noticed the difference.) All of this has meant that I spent less money last month than I did during previously stressful times in my life.
While November was a hard month, I did better than I would have in previous hard times. And that is progress. I’m not perfect but it’s nice sometimes to be able to reflect on how far I’ve come, and to find good things in the face of adversity. If you are dealing with your own difficult time, first and foremost, take care of yourself so that you can get through it. Do what you can to practice self-care in all areas of your life, including financial self-care. Take care of yourself and find the small good moments. They are what will get you through it.
Do you have any stories about how you’ve dealt with your finances while dealing with difficult times? How did you overcome your own spending traps? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.