This month has been expensive for us. I have that familiar feeling of dread about the coming VISA bill. I don’t even want to go look at how much it is. If I didn’t have $5K coming from my 125 FLEX spending account I’d be in a total panic right now.

I haven’t had this feeling for a long time. I forgot how much I hate it. How small it makes me feel. How it dredges up feelings of hopelessness and failure.

I don’t understand why I can’t just figure out this spending shit. My habits are so deeply engrained, I don’t even stop to consider a possible alternative until it’s too late. After I bought the bunk bed I mentioned it to my mother and she lamented the fact that I hadn’t called her first because a couple of families on her school’s listserv were trying to get rid of beds, and one was even a bunk bed. I hadn’t even considered asking her to put it on the listserv. Heck I didn’t even consider checking craigslist first (I did think about looking for a second mattress used but ultimately decided against it–used mattress (from people I don’t know) weird me out).

I spent a lot of money at IKEA. A lot. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that much, not for how much furniture I got. And my daughter really did need a new chest of drawers. {Hers was from my childhood (an IKEA purchase by my parents when we lived in Hong Kong!) and the aquarium filter had malfunctioned a few times and soaked the whole backside with gross fish water. The drawers barely opened or closed and it was a source of grief for everybody. Getting her a new chest of drawers was not an impulse purchase, by any means, but still, I could have been looking for something used.} So yes, it was a reasonable amount for what we got, but it is still A LOT. More than we can cover without using some of that FLEX spending money, at least when you take into consideration all the spending we did for Christmas.

The thing is, I never even thought to see if I could get a bed, or chest of drawers, used. I do look for things used, quite frequently actually, but I don’t have a lot of luck finding what I need so I guess it’s not my go-to plan of action. But it should be.

2017 is looming. I was excited for it–I believe I mentioned my birthday being on 7-17-17 and turning 37 and how 7 is my lucky number–but now with Trump coming into office it has definitely lost its luster. Part of me wants to make 2017 a financial success for me, for us, to counter the bleakness all around us. Part of me wants to commit to doing it this time, really doing it, so that I can look back at this point of next year and feel proud, and thankful. But I don’t think I will, because if I do I will most likely fail, and then 2017 will be even worse than I already imagine it will be. I’m so sick of failing. I’m so sick of letting myself down.

And then I try to talk myself up, to tell myself that I can do it. That I will do it. This time, it will be different. But why should I believe that? I’ve attempted this so many times before. If something isn’t radically different–a new salary forcing us to spend less, talking about it in therapy every week–why do I think I succeed now?

I am putting considerably more in my retirement fund, starting this month actually. So I guess there is that. And I do have some long term goals I’m working towards–the trips to Spanish speaking countries I want to start taking, for one. And I would love to not feel handcuffed to my job’s salary, especially if I found something I was really excited about that paid a lot less. So I do have real reasons to spend less, and yet I don’t think it will matter. Besides the upped retirement contribution those are all abstract, distant goals. I don’t seem to know how to use them to sway my in-the-moment thinking.

I’m just so tired of feeling like a failure. And the only way to avoid feeling like a failure seems to be giving up. Maybe that is what I should do. Just give up and accept that I will never have control over my spending, at least not in the ways I want to, and hope that we still end up relatively okay. I haven’t bankrupted us yet. Maybe whatever middle ground I’ve found is enough. It won’t get me where I ultimately want to go, but we probably won’t end up bankrupted either. Maybe I should see that as success, or at least not consider it failure. 


  1. Oh man, I hate that you feel like a failure. I don’t know what else to say, except that I think overall you have made great strides. Look at the overall big picture of the year, and remind yourself that this month used to be EVERY month, and its quite likely next month you’ll be back in the black. Maybe you should’ve looked for a used set, but you had no bed all of a sudden and trying to find something last minute is super hard. Its a lot easier when you have time to browse and deal with random people when its not a need-now item.
    I know the feeling, trust me, I’m feeling it now, too—for spending, eating, drinking, playing on my phone…basically every goal i’ve set for myself I’ve completely failed at, and giving up seems way easier.

  2. New furniture from IKEA? That doesn’t strike me as splurging unnecessarily. You needed a bed right away, and your chest of drawers was falling apart. Don’t be yourself up over those two things.

    That’s good that you found a nice chest of drawers. We found a nice one that we liked at IKEA over the summer for one kid, at a good price. We meant to go back and get a second one to replace our other kid’s (couldn’t fit both in the car) but then IKEA expanded their recall and that dresser was no longer available.

  3. This is one of the ways keeping a detailed financial workbook has worked to my benefit. This year (first year with a kid in daycare) I felt (actually saw in black and white) that many months we spent more than we made. However, when I compare 2016 year end to 2015 year end, we have $xK more cash in the bank than we did and $xK less debt (paid off a vehicle). Yes, part of that is thanks to a large tax refund, but the bottom line is we are finishing this year ahead of where we finished last year and I count that as a success. If I didn’t have proof in Excel, I wouldn’t have believed this to be true.

  4. Stop beating yourself. Overtime you beat yourself you compound your self damage. Every person is imperfect in different ways. This makes us human and capable of understanding, accepting, loving other human beings … it is important to life to accept imperfect in ourselves as in others.
    So: What can you do now. Admit you solved a problem. Make a list of alternate sources for material things other than a credit card at a store for new items. Post it so when you start to go to the new store you can briefly glance at the reminder list and decide if new really is the best answer. (BED BUGS… UGH, make idea of lice look good. Typed word lice and had to scratch my head. TOTALLY NEW MATTRESS! and it may be reason for new bed frame too as I hear the bugs can be in the joints etc) SOMETIMES new IS best or time necessary or only way to safely solve a problem.
    Next: Count your blessings and everything you did right, everything that gave hope to another (include your readers), every time you rode a bike or walked rather than driving a car, every time you made a child laugh or smile or feel safe or understand some thing or someone else. Then BE KIND TO YOURSELF LIKE YOU WOULD BE TO OTHERS YOU LOVE. Santa Claus is the magic that sees children try to be good even when they fail and Santa understands the effort. Be Santa to you. PLEASE!!!! Praise yourself more than you beat yourself up. Your children and world desperately need you to do this. THANK YOU. I needed the reminder too.

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