Keep treats on track
When is a flamethrower not a flamethrower? Apparently when it has to be renamed so it’s allowed to be shipped here from overseas.
This “not a flamethrower” was one of 20,000 sold recently by Elon Musk’s tunnelling firm – a bit of branded merch to liven things up for the Boring Company. And you could also purchase an exorbitantly priced fire extinguisher to go with it.
Needless to say, I happen to know someone who pulled the trigger on buying one, and if I’m not mistaken, alcohol was involved at the time…
Treat me right
As anyone reading this knows, we tend to justify all sorts of spending – even flamethrowers and fire extinguishers. At times we do this by saying “it’s a treat” – something out of the ordinary that surely doesn’t occur very often. This especially tends to happen while we’re on holiday.
Mentally, because the cost is outside of business as usual, beyond our normal run rate, in our heads it doesn’t count. It’s a one-off. And that’s the thinking that can hijack our finances.
Now I’m not here to say “treats” should not happen, which might be like trying to pitch a lighter in a fight against a flamethrower.
But it is important that splurging can, and should be, part of the plan. That way you keep your money on track to where you want it to be.
Bring it in to your budget
A budget is just a plan for your money, and there’s no reason that splurging can’t be a category. We may not know what the specific treat will be (who saw that flamethrower coming?), but we know they will pop up from time to time.
And since treats tend to bring other expenses with them (like that exorbitant extinguisher), it really helps to have a way to handle these.
This happens to me most with the movies, which are definitely a treat that only happens a few times a year (or whenever the latest Star Wars film drops). As soon as I say yes to the kids, there is that familiar avalanche of costs for treats that come along with the tickets.
So it’s time to plan for it and bring it into your budget. It’s much more fun – think of this as licence to splurge.
How to treat yourself and stay on track
The key thing here is to give every incoming dollar a job to do. Sorted’s budgeting tool is aimed at making this easy, and the goal is to include a “splurge” category to make sure future treats are planned for. Not the specifics, but a manageable dollar figure to make sure they’re covered when they pop up.
The best way I can explain this is my kids’ giving accounts. Alongside the others for spending, saving and growing, that giving one is for anything spent on others, including all the friends’ and siblings’ birthday parties that go on throughout the year. There is $5 automatically flowing into that giving account regularly, and it builds up nicely to cover many things.
I used to get caught off guard when the kids told me they had a birthday party and needed to find a gift, a spend I hadn’t counted on. Nowadays we just dial up their giving account and find a present.
A splurge account works the same way, building in the background. It’s ready for (preferably not alcoholic-induced) inspirations to treat yourself and those around you.
As for that boring flamethrower, I’m confident it didn’t derail any money plans too drastically. Hopefully if it’s safe they’ll let it into the country.