Sweepstakes, etc. are a short circuiting in my thinking?
Another discussion topic: sweepstakes, lottery, drawings, and similar activities. I'm using YNAB. I'm giving every dollar a job. I understand it will take a while to get out of the mess I am in. I didn't get in the mess overnight and I will not get out of it quickly. So, I budget, I watch my spending, I shop around for the best deals on toaster overs and end up at Khols on-line to order it as an in store pickup because they have 2 weekend sales and the whole pickup thing got me $15 back in Khols cash. That's my thinking 90% of the day. Then in the remaining 10% I take time every day (I was going to week, but honestly it's become daily) and enter sweepstakes. I'm staying with sweepstakes because they are free to enter. Lotteries and local drawings for charities cost money. It seems like a fair plan. I'm not doing anything else with the time. However, the shift in thinking concerns me. It's like I've been on a diet all day (in my thinking) and then I eat a bowl of ice cream. I think, if only I could win this one or that one, then my budget would be make for life or the year. The question is, I am short circuiting in my thinking for the budget? Am I cheating on my diet and telling myself it doesn't really effect me? To date I've not won anything, so there's a whole use of time question too. I've also done some online surveys that paid well (about $20/hr), but those don't show up very often.
I had this same problem but with rebate apps like Ibotta, Dosh, coupons, etc. I was driving myself crazy trying to get free money. I'd also get so upset if I forgot to use a coupon or didn't save my receipt to redeem a rebate. I decided to leave that all behind this year. Now I use that downtime when I'm at home to focus on self-care (mobility exercises, stretching, beauty stuff).
I know minimalism is overused and a bit cliche these days but watching YouTube videos about it helped me start to transform my mindset. I have no desire to be a true minimalist but I do enjoy learning to be OK with what I have instead of seeking out more even if I'll get it for free.
I used to have a similar school of thought, where I was committing to my budget 90% but anxiously waiting for my special events (tax refund, extra monthly paycheck 2x year, etc) to really bail me out of my problems. Well what do ya know, these events happened, money came in, and it seemed like it disappeared without a trace. I used the money and gave it jobs of course, but in the grand scheme of my debt, nothing was fixed by one extra paycheck. After last spring when I got both my tax refund and an extra paycheck I realized waiting for these big events wasn't helping anything and I needed to be satisfied with what I could control in my debt paying off/ saving for expense to avoid future debt plan. What fixed it for me was starting a "future expenses" category. And ya know how much it had it in it for a few months? $40. But that $40 was to make my future better and debt free. And it worked! I've never felt so powerful as I did when I designated that $40 to future expenses. It started the habit and really allowed me to feel in control of my future.
As far as entering sweepstakes, if it makes you happy - go for it. It's not harming anything, but if it is prohibiting your mindset shift to fully commit, you may want to reflect on that. Once upon a time I signed up for sweepstakes and surveys and now I just get a TON of spam email and no reward 😂. I do like Ebates because it's easy and has a google chrome extension and an app.
(shameless ebates referral link plug here: https://www.ebates.com/r/MEGANK1912?eeid=28187 )
I have 2 jobs. 1 main job, and 1 part time job. I only budget my main income. 100% of my part time job goes to paying off my debt (plus whatever I can afford for debt payment from my main income). This part time job is "extra" - just as extra paychecks, reward money, bonuses, gifted money, coins you find in your couch should be treated as "extra", random and NOT part of your regular plan.