Fessing up to bad habits... How to stop "stealing" from far-off goals?

Hi guys!

As I continue working really hard to pay down my debt, I'm finding it hard to set money aside for spending--even though I obviously continue to spend.

Saving money in my "income replacement" fund is easy because I look at it as a safety net for my future self. Yet, I've been trying to get better about building up my true expenses and I always find myself "re-balancing" my budget to squeeze some extra change into my debt pay down category. 

It seems setting money aside for big bills reminds me just how much money I have to put toward these recurring, seemingly never-ending expenses. It's so silly--it's like I have $20k in CC debt I'm having a ball paying off (with who knows how much in interest), but saving $1,500 for car insurance or new tires is like the biggest downer ever. Am I broken or do other people have this mental block? 

At the same time, I think -- well such and such is a ways off, so this money is better spent paying down my high interest debt. Same goes for my lifestyle categories like clothing, but guess who just got new riding leggings yesterday when they had $0 plugged into their clothing budget? 馃槕

I feel like YNAB has really got me thinking about the way I look at money... I see paying down my debt as such a long-awaited relief and a real accomplishment now that I am financially comfortable. At the same time, putting money into my savings account is just as fulfilling. But setting aside money to "spend," even for seemingly "fun" things (like clothing, which I used to love shopping for), has become astoundingly tough. 

I think I've lived using CCs as a "buffer" for so long that I'm finding it tough to accept the realization that I must spend my money straight out of my budget or I'm not going to ever break the cycle.

Any tips for the mindset shift I need to make? 

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  • The net effect is going to be a wash I think. If you don't set aside money for future expenses then when the time comes, it's just going to have to go back on the CC or come out of your Income Replacement fund. You might as well do it correctly and accurately so you know where you really stand.

    Pineapple Gal said:
    I think I've lived using CCs as a "buffer" for so long that I'm finding it tough to accept the realization that I must spend my money straight out of my budget or I'm not going to ever break the cycle.

    You just encapsulated the whole issue right there. That's exactly it. Once you start using your YNAB budget as intended, that's where the real magic happens.

    CCs are just a tool to spend. Your YNAB budget is made out of real dollars. Those are the dollars you have available to you. CCs are just a debt tool otherwise.

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      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 7 days ago
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      Superbone I totally get the concept! I've added all my CCs as accounts into YNAB as I pay them down and to prevent accumulation of more debt. My issue is more of a mindset thing -- I was wondering if someone who's faced similar reluctance to tag money for spending had any tips for me on new ways to look at it other than the negative light I find myself seeing it in.

      I'm slowly getting in the habit of checking my budget and moving money before a purchase, but I'd love to get to the point where I'm earmarking money for certain categories where expenses are bound to come up, rather than pretending like I can put 100% of my disposable income toward debt, because that's simply not realistic for me.

      I always appreciate your perspective! I'm ever-so-slowly getting the hang of it I think. 馃榿

      Like 1
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
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      Pineapple Gal make assigning money to future expenses a consistent amount. 鈥 $X/month of my income is for clothing鈥 as opposed to 鈥淚鈥檒l fund this category when I have some discretionary income left鈥. I have around 60 categories and I鈥檇 say 95% get funded the same amount every month. And saving for your loss of income isn鈥檛 somehow more magical and noble than saving for new tires. All saving is just deferred spending. 

      Like 4
    • Pineapple Gal said:
      I'd love to get to the point where I'm earmarking money for certain categories where expenses are bound to come up, rather than pretending like I can put 100% of my disposable income toward debt, because that's simply not realistic for me.

       Income you use for necessary expenses that are going to come up is not disposable. 

      Just keep reminding yourself, or put a note on the mirror, or at the top of the budget: savings for true expenses is not disposable income. 

      As Superbone points out, if you don't do the savings, then when the expenses so come up, you just end up adding to your debt. Which defeats the purpose of paying down the debt. 

      Like 3
      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 5 days ago
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      jenmas That's a good approach! I just set up a "Monthly Savings Builder" goal for each of those categories for the first time so I can get in the habit of always putting a little money in.

      Like 4
  • Maybe tried hiding categories you want to resist stealing from? You'll have to unhide  them temporarily on payday and the day you use those categories for thier original intent but if they're hidden when you're trying to rebalance your budget maybe it'll be less easy to steal from them?

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      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 5 days ago
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      Mx Emmin I'm going to try this as well! I've just re-ordered my budget. Previously the "lifestyle" categories were at the top because I though that would be best for the app when I'm out-and-about. Now I've moved things around so we'll see how the new set up goes. 

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      • monkeyhanger
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      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 5 days ago
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      Pineapple Gal You can do both because the app lets you pin categories to the top of the screen. I would set up the web budget in the order that makes most sense for your budgeting decision-making. Then in the app, you can pin the categories you're most likely to use out and about so that they appear at the top.

      Like 3
      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 4 days ago
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      monkeyhanger I didn't know that. Thanks! 馃榾

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  • I have a category group at the bottom of my budget that is called No Pilfering! In other words: you're not alone. 馃槄 I think it is an extension of the original problem, like you pointed out - it's always been hard to budget for clothing, and yet we all need and do buy clothing. You're obviously making progress - but maybe some gentle reminders in your budget will help you to sort out where to move money from.

    Like 2
  • Oh! One thing that I did recently was take a closer look at Average Spent and did some adjusting of my Budget Template to account for reality. It has been really helpful!

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      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 4 days ago
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      Marisa That's a great idea! I've been using YNAB for a few months now so that should help me assign more realistic amounts. Now that I've reset my outlook and re-ordered my budget items, I've already started building up a few categories, so I consider that progress! :) 

      Like 3
  • Pineapple Gal said:
    My issue is more of a mindset thing -- I was wondering if someone who's faced similar reluctance to tag money for spending had any tips for me on new ways to look at it other than the negative light I find myself seeing it in.

     For a long time my mindset was to optimize for the numbers, which is never ending. Now, I've shifted my mindset to optimize for good financial habits that fit into a well balanced life. That shift has made my finances simpler and calmer. I'm not falling behind on anything financial.

    Like 4
  • It may help to think about saving in these True Expense categories in two stages: During Debt Payoff and Post-Payoff. When I was paying off CC debt  I would look at a my clothing category and think hard about what I needed in the next month or two (in case I needed to have a little money accumulate to have enough to spend on a new pair of shoes). I put money in the category, but with a very specific purpose. Once debt was paid off, now I send a more generous amount there monthly to accumulate. I don't spend from it every month, and I have also WAMed from it when I've had other needs. But having some buildup there makes it easier when I want to see a comfy sweatshirt I want, and the jeans I love are on sale, so I buy two pairs.

    Like 1
    • Navy Blue Router yes doing that with clothes have actually allowed me to grab sales to save money and not just spend cause it looks like a bargain. I knew I wanted a couple summer shirts in the spring but knew they wouldn't be on sale till fall. I put the money away and spotted a July sale and here I am with a couple new shirts midseason. All through June winter shirts kept tempting me but I knew what I wanted. hard to do but quite an accomplishment for me despite how simple it sounds. Last winter I wasn't as smart :)

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  • Personally, I get a kick out of the age of money. My first goal was 30 days ahead. Before I needed a budget, I remebered that being thirty days ahead was a minimum for me, I always kept nexts months expenses in the bank. And I felt rich.

    Several months ago I started to allocate money in the months ahead instead of just this month. For instance, it's July and I have all of August covered and half of September. I actually move forward to September and assign money and pay no real mind to the available since it will go up and down before September gets here. Once I got past that, and that took a couple months, I started to pay attention to available once again but in a different light and began to learn the finer points of the goal system tools they gave us.

    Now my available funds a couple months out can go up and down but with "correct" goal settings I can watch for yellow. Like in a couple months I will be light on Christmas savings again but I have time to find that money. Augusts HBA funds look kinda high LOL. Subscriptions are creeping back in etc. These are chronic problems that YNAB helps to reign in before they cause big problems.

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