Something interesting happened last week.
I was working on my next newsletter, which included four well-researched ways to help you all curb some overspending habits. Many of you had identified ‘going out’ (food & booze) as your main budget busters – the things you know you should scale back on but always find difficult to hold yourselves to – so I wanted to tackle that.
I’ve always been able to spend very little money on going out, mostly out of necessity since I chose music as my business! Considering I keep my budget under $200/mo for going out (which includes $ for dates, in NYC, mind you), I feel fairly qualified to say “I can help you with this”.
After finishing the first draft, I ran out to grab a beer with a financial planner I’d recently been connected to. And here’s where it gets interesting.
Before heading out, I promised I would limit myself to one drink. This is partly because I had to be safe when biking home (yeah, I could easily win lightweight-of-the-year award), but more-so because it was near the end of the month and I had $8 left in my booze budget.
I mulled over how to address the awkwardness of explaining this to someone I barely knew, in a city where “everyone” spends pretty freely when going out. Yet this guy’s a financial planner for crying out loud, so if anyone would understand sacrificing for a budget it’d be him.
*The man-date commences*
We ended up getting along quite well, and as the conversation became more natural and personal, I felt embarrassed about having to say I wouldn’t be ordering another drink. I nursed the last third of my beer, feeling increasingly awkward about how I would bring it up. Remember, I’d literally just written an entire newsletter about four different ways to help people stick to their budget guns in this type of situation. But I somehow felt that by saying “I’m sticking to one beer tonight because I’ll run over my booze budget for the month”, I would have thrown a big ‘ole wet blanket on everything.
So, when the waitress came around asking about another round, what did I do? I wussed out and ordered another. And when the bill came, I even split the bill of my two drinks and his three, more than tripling my allotted budget. Fail.
Revisiting the newsletter draft the next day, I felt uncomfortable with what I had written. How could I share this with people when I couldn’t even follow my own advice? It didn’t feel right. And why was it that I felt so embarrassed to admit I didn’t have money in my budget for a second round? Even when the person across the table from me was an effing FINANCIAL PLANNER who I know wouldn’t judge me for it?!
I know it may seem weird to beat myself up over having two beers instead of one. But this situation forced me to take a closer look at “Theory vs. Reality”. And it made me think about what the best approach is for helping people through this newsletter.
So, what are this week’s takeaways?
- When you fall short of your expectations, don’t beat yourself up.
- Step back and reflect on what happened. Call out what was difficult or awkward – name those feelings and acknowledge them.
- Write these thoughts down somewhere (I love the journaling app DayOne) or talk it out with a close friend (or even the bathroom mirror).
- Forgive yourself. You learned from that experience.
- Next time you find yourself in a similar situation, remember how you felt and decide if you’d rather not feel that way, again. Feel confident that saying “no” to round two is you being awesome, not being cheap.
I know this letter is more feelings than finance. But when it comes to achieving your goals it helps to remember that success is only 10% to 20% knowledge – the rest is action. It’s not so much about knowing what to do as actually doing it.
Now, go out and be awesome! And let me know how it goes.
Thank you guys for all of your continued comments, questions, feedback, etc. Please keep them coming so I can make this newsletter as relevant and helpful for you as I can.