A couple of weeks ago, I had a not so great day at work. Nothing really dramatic happened, it was just one of those long days where everything seemed to be a little off and annoying. After work, things didn’t get much better.
I had to stop at the bank and then was supposed to meet a contractor at one of our rental properties to discuss some repair work. Something came up after school (which often does for teachers) that did not allow me to leave as soon as I had hoped. I’m a stickler for being late to appointments, so this didn’t set well with me.
At the bank we had to wait in line at the drive thru for 10 minutes to make our deposit. That’s unusual but they were shorthanded for some reason. Needless to say, I’m feeling the pressure to arrive at my appointment on time.
At this point, I encountered one of the strange oddities of life.
Ever notice that when you are in a hurry you hit every red light, get behind every slow driver and have to stop for every school bus dropping off children? Interesting how that works.
I finally arrived to our rental property five minutes late, only to find the contractor wasn’t there yet. He called me a few minutes later saying he was coming but had gotten turned around with his directions. Fifteen minutes later he showed up and we ended up talking for thirty minutes about our project.
Oh, did I forget to mention that I was doing all this with my four tired, restless, and hungry children with me in the van?
We finally got home at which point all the kids immediately want something to eat. The dinner I had planned for that evening would take around 90 minutes to prepare, cook, eat and clean up from. And I hate finishing dinner late into the evening.
Plus I’m physically and mentally drained. I had no energy or desire to cook. Mrs. Luke1428 will be getting home late from work because it’s tax season so I’ll just be eating with the kids anyway. Every fiber in my being is telling me to pile the kids back into the van and go out to eat.
It would have cost me around $30 to take my kids out to eat if we go the fast food route. Oh, plus another $7 for my wife to pick something up on the way home because I hadn’t fixed dinner. So, basically I’m making a $37 decision. No big deal right?
It’s not really a big deal, except these kind of days happen all the time. One could easily end up facing this decision 10 times a month. That’s close to an expenditure of $400 just for eating out. Ouch!
My financial life would not have been ruined had we gone out to eat. However, I made the difficult decision to stay home and cook dinner. After it was all done, I felt really good about myself.
I think I was able to fight through this decision for a couple of reasons:
1. I was paying attention to our budget and knew we had eaten out a lot in the last month. Cutting back on that expenditure was already front-and-center in my mind.
2. I thought about the big picture. We are working towards paying off our mortgage debt. Every little bit saved towards that goal helps.
3. I had actually planned a week in advance for what we would be eating that night. If I had been unprepared, my decision would have been different.
I have found that personal finance is a battle between our emotions and will. When we win routinely in the daily, small battles, it makes the bigger ones easier to win. Success breeds success.
Questions: What $37 dollar decisions are you making right now? What’s your favorite, quick go-to meal when you are running late? When have you decided on drawing a line in the sand?
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