Absolutes: not always a bad thing

I’m horrible when it comes to diets.  I tell myself “no cookies” and about a week later I’ll start craving a cookie.  Notice that I say “a” as in one-one cookie is all that I want.  But because I’m on the dreaded d-word, I’ll tell myself no.  And I’ll be good for about a week or so.  Then one day I crack and I’m scarfing down an entire batch of cookies.  A lot more than that one single cookie I denied myself in the first place, right? And because I “failed” myself by eating the cookies, I stopped dieting.

Good for me.   Why do I say that? Because I have discovered I hate diets.  I hate the “you can’t have that because….” mentality.   Now, I know it works for some people.  And I did that with the whole “no soda” but I replaced my sweet drink craving with tea or juice.  Because I found that it wasn’t the soda I wanted it was the sweet taste. Now what I do is limit myself.  I may have this many calories a day and if that means I eat half of them by having a big piece of fudge pie, then so be it.  I am still allowed to buy books off of my list even though I have a stack of unread books—the disclaimer being that it comes from my fun money of course.

However, absolutes in some areas of my life? They rock.  I know that when I do my budget, I will be saving $50 a paycheck for medical expenses.  Very rarely has this changed in amount—well, sometimes I was even able to increase the amount.  So now when I look at my paycheck, I don’t see money that I can spend all over the place.  Instead, I see “medical fund, bills, debt, savings, wedding fund, and so on”.  These absolutes are a life saver.  Before my life on budgets, I was a mess.  I would spend entire paychecks on books.  I’d tell myself it was okay because I was getting a discount.  Um, no, no that’s not okay.  Because a week after that, I would be getting bills due or rent or need gas or food or something.

Now, I allow myself that one cookie (personal money) and am perfectly content with it.  I don’t need a stack of books that I haven’t read to make me feel satisfied.  Instead, I look to the future and see what kind of life I will be having due to those absolutes.  Do I wish I had started earlier? Of course but oh well—can’t change that now!


21 Comments on “Absolutes: not always a bad thing”

  1. Alice says:

    Awesome post! I have to have absolutes in my finances, too. Most of the time it’s because I just don’t have that much extra money – but I have to pay those bills and get it over with so that I don’t put something off and think that I can catch it up next month. Not sure where I think that extra money is going to come from the next month since I’m on salary – but in the past, this was how I did things. I’m glad that I am now so dedicated to getting all this paid off. I did spend some extra money this month, but I actually had the money to spend, lol.

    • bogofdebt says:

      Like I said on your post, I’m so glad you got to splurge this last month. I was doing a happy dance for you when I read that. Back when I was hourly and a few years ago, I’d try to work overtime just because I had spent my bill money on useless things. And I’d immediately spend that too. It’s so hard playing catch up with finances!

  2. Daisy says:

    Honestly, I don’t think dieting ever works. For the long run, anyway. Calorie tracking does – so budgeting – but not cutting out everything yummy/fun.

    • bogofdebt says:

      I agree so much! I have had friends on perpetual diets who don’t lose any weight at all. It’s not fun cutting out everything fun/yummy. I’ve lost more weight (or at least clothe sizes…but that’s a different story) by just watching my calories then they do by cutting out everything yummy.

  3. Jessica says:

    Great post! It reminded me of how much I loved history in high school (I need to find more time to read nowadays). It’s great to see that the things that pf bloggers talk about today are not new ideas…they are tried and true.

    • bogofdebt says:

      I loved history too! It’s still one of my favorite areas to read. And hey, why fix something that isn’t broke right? Budgeting, setting aside necessary money first–this worked in the past. Unfortunatly, I didn’t do these things in the past….

  4. I think like a lot of things you need to develop and habit and a system. I don’t have a problem with diet. I don’t go crazy with anything, but that’s because it took years and years of training…slow training to get to that point. It’s important to be patient with yourself so you can slowly build those muscles, and then you get to the point where you just don’t have to think about it much anymore. Now money on the other hand…that’s something I really need to keep working on.

    • bogofdebt says:

      I’m still learning with the money! Exercise for me was easier. I just devoted 20 minutes a day at first to some sort of exercise. I uesed to go for walks and then did the couch to 5k program. Now I get cranky if I don’t exercise! I’m hoping that is what will happen with the saving/paying off debt. I would love it to be so automatic that it becomes hard to not do it!

  5. Super true. You gotta do what works for you – we’re all so different. One person’s way (or diet or budget) is not a universal solution that works for everyone else. It’s good that we can all try different things and see what works for us. I’m like you – I need constants in my life like setting up budgets and limits, but I can’t go cold turkey… I’m trying to cut out sugar/processed food right now and it’s very hard. I am not going to tell myself NONE AT ALL but more like cut down, and hopefully get to none at all some day 🙂

    • bogofdebt says:

      That’s what I did with the soda. I went from numerous regular type sodas a day to one a day…and then diet…and then none. It took me a few months to get to the none at all stage but I feel better for it!

  6. Modest Money says:

    This is why I love having automatic transfers setup to my retirement savings. If it wasn’t for that absolute I’d just make excuses not to put money in. Instead it is just another bill that I have to pay.

    As for dieting, do some research into how bad processed sugar is for you. I was a sugar fiend for a long time and am now trying to detoxify my liver. If you can truly accept how bad something like that is for you, it is so much easier to give up. Instead I’m learning to enjoy healthy foods. Knowing how much better it is for me sure helps. Weight loss wasn’t part of my plan, but it looks like that is happening anyway.

    • bogofdebt says:

      For the diets, I’ve always been a fan of fruits and veggies so that wasn’t too bad. I still like my sweets though–but from my perspective, having them once in a while isn’t really a bad thing for me. I’d still rather have an apple over a candy bar most days. But there are those days that I WANT that candy bar–so I eat it. Or part of it anyways.

      I don’t have anything automatic yet. I will in a month or two but nothing yet. And it was really hard for me to pull that money out and not touch it at first. It’s gotten easier but for a while, it was touch and go.

  7. Have to disagree. I love absolutes in my money AND in my eating. The reason that you failed at eating fewer cookies or substituted other sweet drinks for soda is that those limitations didn’t break your addiction to sugar. You just cut down eating sugar in one area and increased it in another. Had you gone close to zero sugar intake (not added sugar, all sugar) and maintained that for a couple weeks you would no longer crave those foods. I would much rather eat MORE food overall (more calories) but just leave out the stuff that tastes good but makes all of us sick (sugar, refined carbohydrates). There are so many other delicious foods that promotes our health (fat, mmmm) that I personally don’t miss sugar. Similarly, I have absolute rules for my money – never carry a credit card balance, give and save minimum percentages out of every paycheck. Why indulge in a little of what you know is bad for you in the name of balance?

    • bogofdebt says:

      I do enjoy my absolutes in money but dieting for me never worked. Nine times out of ten I’ll grab a piece of fruit for a snack. So the one time that I grab a piece of cake or cookie doesn’t bother me. My tea is usally unsweetened but it’s sweeter than water (or more flavorful I guess) and I try to do 100% fruit juices. I do actually eat a lot less sweets than I did a few years ago. When I was dieting I tended to grab the cookie more than the one time which led to me feeling like a failure which than led me to blowing my diet even more. But by allowing myself that option of “yes you can have a cookie but you might not be full after it or you can grab 2 apples and feel much fuller”, I tend to go with the apples.

  8. MyMoneyDesign.com says:

    Cookies or not, the delayed gratification is well worth it! I’ve got absolutes surrounding all my finances. And one day when I’m able to live off my money instead of employment, I will look back and know it was worth it!

    • bogofdebt says:

      I’ve fallen in love with delayed gratification! I love the idea that I saved up for something and it is offically mine. I’m not paying the credit card companies to enjoy their new purchase-which is what I was really doing in the first place. It’s still a tough area for me every once in a while but I’m getting so much better.

  9. I read somewhere that there are some people who can handle moderation and some people who can tolerate absolutes. The moderation people say, “I don’t get it, just eat one cookie” and the absolutes say, “no way! I will have seven cookies and stop this nonsense altogether” I find that I’m a mix of both. Mostly absolutes, and my rules work for me!

    • bogofdebt says:

      Like I was saying in a differnt reply, I will find myself turning away from that cookie if I give myself a choice more often than not. It’s the ability to have that choice. In my financial side, I cannot have that choice because I won’t save. (Or the old me wouldn’t have…) So like you, I think of myself as an inbetween person.

  10. Kris says:

    The links between weight loss and debt reduction are all over! Crash diet or crash spending plan, it will fail. But setting a budget (or calorie allowance) is a much easier way to control what needs to be controlled while still allowing some leeway. Good for you for figuring out a way.

  11. […] Absolutes: not always a bad thing on Bog of Debt […]

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