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This year I decided to start building better habits. It started with walking, then taking vitamins, then adding on a bit of working out and, last month, dental hygiene. This month, I am taking a step in the opposite direction. Instead of focusing on a habit to build, I am focusing on a habit to BREAK. A bad habit.
You see, the path to FI is a long one. The end result is years away but we chip away at it daily and with constant dedication. It is the daily that I am stuck in…like a mud slide in hiking boots, it is time to loosen the laces and step free of the load that is holding me back. The day-to-day number crunching that I have become addicted to is making the entire journey less enjoyable. I have read sooo many posts from my PF friends that are having the same issue – living in the now. Heck, I even wrote about it myself!! And while my words still ring true in that post, I am enjoying the journey to FI, I am also wringing my hands in the background waiting to get there. The only way I can break this twitch is to stop cold turkey. It is with this in mind that I have declared May my month of Financial Celibacy…
I WILL NOT CHECK MY BALANCES UNTIL MAY 31.
The first step was to recognize it. And I did. I recognize that my financial tracking is out of control. It is a complete free for all. I don’t tally my numbers once a month. I do it every day. It is constant. It is time-consuming. It brings me equal parts joy and madness. All of this information is at our fingertips. I can check the market, check my balances, check to see if a purchase went through and has posted. Every moment I am doing this is stealing moments that I could be doing other things.
Those who have been following my quarterly net worth posts know that I am an avid net worth tracker. Beyond that, I am meticulous when it comes to tracking my spending. For the past 28 months I have tracked my spending like a lion tracks its prey…precise, calculated, and with purpose. I have been so meticulous, in fact, that I can tell you exactly when I purchased what within the past two years. Work shoes? May 2016. Haircut? June 2016 (sheesh – probably due for another!). That being said, I am not at all as insane as some people who track how many sweet potatoes they purchased in 2016. #NoJudgement. 😉
Yesterday, May 1, I removed all finance apps from my phone (except my normal checking account). For good measure, I also removed the apps from my Ipad as well as the bookmarks from my computer. It has only been 24 hours and already I have gone to log on several times before having to smack the ruler on my own trembling hand. In an effort to compose myself, I double checked my graph from the Mad Fientist’s Lab and, yup, still many many months to go…
Don’t get me wrong, seeing these numbers is still motivating to me. In fact, I am a few months ahead of my original plan*!! With some good luck (and increased earnings over the next few years), I will be able to shave a few more months off and perhaps even make it to FI with the class of 2021!! In the meantime, I need to get a grip!
Addiction is described as the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming. Check. I consider this my 2 step program to get me back on my feet. To break free from the constant checking and tallying, both constraints that my daily practice has tied me with. This is my month to make good on all the missed moments in the past. All the times I could be up and out and doing things instead of thinking about my numbers or looking down at my phone jumping from app to spreadsheet to fill in a blank.
My rules for this months challenge are simple:
- DO NOT check specific accounts until May 30
- DO NOT tally daily spending
- ENJOY THE RIDE!!!
There is one caveat – I am keeping access to my regular checking account just to make sure nothing gets hacked and my deposits go in on time…the worst thing for a frugal gal like me is to see an overdraft fee creep up due to a clerical error. NEVER!!!
The bonus to my challenge is hopefully the benefit of realizing that I don’t need to check my balances multiple times a day. I also don’t need to worry about my spending because I know I don’t spend out of control. I think I got so worried about my numbers when I made them public that I started scrutinizing everything that didn’t need to be scrutinized. This exercise will show me that I am still in control even if I’m not watching everything daily. Fingers crossed this is the outcome. 🙂
So, what do you think? Can I break this bad habit in a month? Do you have any habits (good or bad) you are working on?? Let’s chat in the comments below!
Until next time…
*My original FI plan date has changed for the better but that isn’t the best news… When I first set up my Mad Fientist Lab assumptions I was using my current yearly expenses (1500/month = 18k/year). Some time between then and now I decided to up my ante to $2500/month = 30k/year. It is this number that my assumptions are now built on. So, not only did my FI date get closer (even with 1000 extra per month), my FI quality of life will be better…and less risky! Had I kept my original numbers, my FI date would be September 2019! I still consider that my first tier FI, but were I to move or have to pay for housing again, I would be more comfortable with a bigger buffer. 2500/month is my buffer. Oh, and just for kicks I also checked out how long it would take me to get to 3k/month. At this rate? November 2023. 🙂