I was at the Motor Vehicle Department recently and happened to use their restroom. That’s when I discovered that their toilet paper roll only (easily) dispensed two squares at a time.
That’s right, two squares.
I’d pull on the roll, it’d flip over, and two little squares would tear off. Now you can’t do much of anything with two squares of toilet paper, so of course I pulled on it again.
I ended up pulling on it a few more times just because it didn’t seem like much. Then I realized I actually had a lot more toilet paper than I would have if I’d been using a non-stingy roll.
Where’s the financial lesson in all of this, you ask?
It’s this: Sometimes when we deprive ourselves, we end up in worse shape than if we hadn’t tried to deprive ourselves in the first place.
For example, have you ever decided to cut back on spending, and then gone too far? What usually happens is that suddenly there are temptations everywhere you look. But you’re being good, and limiting yourself, so you make sure that you don’t spend very much when you buy something.
The problem is that you spend that small amount on a whole bunch of little items instead, not realizing how much it all adds up to. When the end of the week comes, you’re surprised to discover that you’ve spent even more than you used to when you weren’t trying to cut back.
Look at the big picture
It’s hard to judge how much you’re really spending when you’re doling it out in little amounts. You don’t give it the same kind of thought that you would if you planned to buy something pricey. But if you pay attention, and look at the big picture, you can both get the things you want and make sure that you’re not depriving yourself.
In other words, think about what makes you feel good and continue some of the spending on that. If you do need to cut back, keep a running total of the amount you’ve been spending so that you don’t cross the line, but remember that crash money diets don’t work long term, either. So don’t be too extreme.
Be reasonable in coming up with your spending plan, and make sure it includes the things that really matter to you.Posted in Emotions & Money on 01.21.13 with 11 comments.