Dave Ramsey categorizes people into two different spending categories: The Nerd and the Free Spirit. The Nerd is the frugal one, who enjoys budgeting, planning and saving. The Free Spirit enjoys spending, spending, and….yes, spending.
Early in our marriage, I was definitely a Free Spirit, and my husband was the Nerd. Over the last year, as his schedule has gotten busier, I have taken over more and more of our finances, and a dramatic shift has happened in those roles. I have turned into, according to my husband, The Budget Nazi: scrutinizing our bank account every day, managing our budget structly, and forbidding ANY purchases that haven’t been previously budgeted.
The part that has surprised me the most about this shift in perspective is how much I’m enjoying it! I have enjoyed feeling more of a sense of control over our finances, knowing that we have money saved and that we are making progress in paying off our debt. I’ve even enjoyed the budgeting part – learning how to make our money go further and make sure that we are getting the most out of what we spend.
That being said, there are days those decisions have been very hard to make. Today was one of those days. Right before we made the decision to focus our energy on getting out of debt, I fell in love. No, Husband, you don’t have to worry – it wasn’t with another guy. It was with a new music serivce: Spotify. I’ve enjoyed using this service more than any other product I’ve spent money on in a long time. Their website says:
“Want to listen to any track at any time? We don’t blame you. We did too. That’s why we created Spotify Premium.”
The service is like Pandora, but allows you to listen to specific tracks whenever you want to.
They have a free service (which is great when you’re at home), but I’ve been paying for the Premium service which allows you to listen to their whole music library from your smartphone. It started out with a free trial (best marketing scheme ever invented, by the way), and for the last two months I’ve been in music heaven. But today was the day that the decision had to be made: pay for another month, or cancel the subscription.
As much as it hurt – and it really did hurt – I cancelled the subscription. I think this was a really good thing, for several reasons, and the more I think about it, the happier I am with the decisions. Here are a few things I realized.
Consequences SHOULD hurt.
We tell our kids this over and over – when you make good choices, there are good consequences. When you make bad decisions, there are bad consequences. So we made bad financial decisions, and now there are bad consequences. That should be something painful – the point of bad consequences is to learn the lesson so that you avoid those bad decisions in the future.
You can’t continue to make the some decisions and expect a different result. Something has to change.
The more uncomfortable we are now, the more we will be motivated to fix the problem.
Do I need Spotify Premium? Definitely not. Would I love to have Spotify Premium? Most definitely. I’d also like my Chris Botti tickets back, to order pizza this evening instead of cooking, and to have two cars again. All of these things make our lives easier and more pleasant. And I don’t intend to live like The Budget Nazi forever. But the more we strip away from our budget right now, the more we are constantly reminded of why we are in this mess and what it will take for us to get out of it.
Every penny counts.
The most difficult obstacle to get around in my mind was the thought, “But it’s only 5.99/month [or 9.99, or 19.99...]. It’s not enough to really impact our budget, so we might as well keep it.” All these small expenditures that we had in our budget didn’t seem like they were hurting anything. It didn’t feel like it would help us get out of this mess by cancelling them. So they just hung around.
When we got serious, though, we realized something – it wasn’t just 5.99. It was a WAY OF THINKING that said, “It’s ok to spend a little bit more money. Just because you can’t pay that credit card bill this month doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any fun…” This is the problem with the current political and economic mindset in our country. It says, “I shouldn’t have to face the consequences of my previous actions and choices – especially if I can make someone believe I didn’t understand the impact of the choices I was making. I should be able to get this problem fixed and still live with all of the luxuries I’m used to living with.”
Another funny thing we found out when we started adding all of our “small bills” together was this: a lot of little things added together make one big thing. We started adding the Spotify subscription to the Netflix one to the cable one…and so on…and before you know it, we were saving over $100/month. Putting that money towards our debt make a big difference.
This isn’t information that someone has to “teach” you – it’s obvious if you think about it hard enough. The difficult part is being persuaded to do something with that information. Taking the first step was the hardest for me. Once I started seeing what we could accomplish with just a few uncomfortable decisions, I became excited to make more of those uncomfortable decisions in order to make a bigger impact. Not because I want to live like this forever – but because I DON’T.
I still had a hard time giving up the Spotify subscription, though. What about you? What is the one thing that would be/was hard for you to give up?