“Just one time!”

You ever catch yourself saying that whenever you’re about to splurge on something??


And then that one time becomes two times, and then three, and then before you know it you now have yourself a regular line item in your budget? ;)

I don’t know if there’s a term for that (accidental lifestyle inflation?), but a commenter recently reminded me of it and how damn sneaky it can be, haha…

From Kate:

I was in a cafe once and eavesdropping on a blind date next to me.

The girl was telling her date about this economic theory she had heard on a Ted talk or something, and how when you start off buying expensive/luxury things, such as a Starbucks coffee for £3 rather than making an instant coffee in the office for free, you are not just spending that £3, but you are also setting up your habits for it to become the norm to spend £3 *every day* on Starbucks. Same as getting a £10 Uber home after a crappy day at work or a £30 manicure when you can’t be bothered doing your own. It’s not the one off cost that is the problem, but turning this into part of your regular spending.

She was really interesting, but all her date had to say was, “Ew! I hate Starbucks coffee. I only get mine at independent cafes.” Totally dismissing her and also missing the point. I suspect there was no second date.

– Kate


But such a good line there – “It’s not the one off cost that is the problem, but turning this into part of your regular spending.” – YES!!! That’s the devil working on your money!!

And as soon as I read that, I immediately realized I had been doing a dance with him lately too…

Y’all already know that I buy out coffee every morning as part of my “get free office space at coffee shops” strategy, but the other week I forgot to eat breakfast one day and decided to pick up a muffin “just this once” because I was STARVING, and then the next day came and I decided to do it again because nothing really bad happened, right?, and then the next again, and the next, and the next, and before I knew it I was picking up something scrumptious with my coffee going on three full weeks!

And I didn’t even see it coming!! Haha…

You just get so used to it that you don’t even think to challenge it, and then the second you do you (usually) snap right out of it. If only there was an app or something that would ring the alarms anytime we’re about to do something stupid, haha… it would change everything!! ;)

But alas we’re on our own with this, so let ME be your alarm today and accept this challenge of reviewing your recent bank/credit card statements and seeing if any naughty habits have formed for you lately, as well…

If you find it has, challenge yourself to break it over the next 7 days, and then reward yourself with some (free) candy afterwards for a job well done! I hear people will literally be giving it away come the 31st! ;)

As for me, I’m proud to report I’ve been muffin-free going on two weeks now, and devil permitting it’ll stay that way well into the future…

Appreciate the fine reporting, Kate!! You caught a problem I didn’t even know I had!

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  1. Kate October 24, 2019 at 5:56 AM

    My own advice NOTED! And I’ll join you, J. As of right now I vow to never, ever, again spend £1.59 on three chocolate covered rice cakes from Itsu as my afternoon pick-me-up!

    1. J. Money October 24, 2019 at 12:23 PM

      Wowww that’ll be pretty impressive! You love those things! :)

  2. Michael October 24, 2019 at 9:45 AM

    Very interesting Kate! Developing bad spending habits is definitely a problem and most people don’t even realize they are doing it.

  3. Jen October 24, 2019 at 9:58 AM

    I love this one. I want to be friends with that girl on the blind date!

    1. J. Money October 24, 2019 at 12:26 PM

      Haha yeah – that guy messed up his chances ;)

  4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life October 24, 2019 at 10:01 AM

    I’ve never told you about my If You Give This Mouse A Cookie syndrome?? It’s this exactly and worse which is why I practice full bore self denial most of the time. If I want ten things and I get myself one, my brain goes “mmm but also can I have one more thing? And one more thing? And one more thing?”

    If I get none of ten things, then my brain settles down with an “Oh fine. Make do, then.”

    It’s less bad if someone gifts me a thing, thankfully, because it’s trained not to be an ungrateful git but I have to be SUPER careful of my own choices and splurges because it’s a hankering beast that does NOT let up after one.

    PiC always tells me to take myself out to lunch for a change of scenery, and it’s obvious he doesn’t see my beast peeping around the corner going yessss start to go out for lunch. Go on. Then we’ll go out to lunch FOREVER!! (It sounds like Gollum. It’s not good.)

    1. J. Money October 24, 2019 at 12:29 PM

      My kids love that book!!!! and its 1,000 different variations that never seem to end, haha…. (we’re on the pancakes one now ;)).

      I’m gonna try and envision YOUR face on him now going forward and maybe that’ll keep me sane having to read them so much :)

      1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life October 25, 2019 at 5:13 PM

        If you give a pig a pancake! And then the moose who gets a muffin…!! :D

        They are never ending. Just like my wants XD

  5. Pat October 24, 2019 at 10:05 AM

    Never mind the other girl. I want to be friends with Kate.

    1. J. Money October 24, 2019 at 12:30 PM

      You can ping her up above in the comments and get that relationship going… ;)

    2. Kate October 28, 2019 at 5:58 AM

      Hi Pat! Me too!

  6. Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 24, 2019 at 10:17 AM

    First of all, it drives me crazy when people don’t see the point of a story and intread come back with a line that is more self-serving. Ugh! Anyhoo….yes, this has been me the last couple of months. :(

  7. Kat October 24, 2019 at 10:24 AM

    I’ve become a ninja at lowering my spending, to the point where it’s second nature. I wonder though why that level of discipline or ‘happiness at doing the right thing’ doesn’t translate to skipping ‘diet inflation’? I have free access to good food at the natural food store I work for, but often that food is organic COOKIES AND PIZZA, and since it’s free, I can never say no even though it’s bad for my body. I continually wonder how to translate my money ninja skills to taking care of my body and not just my budget.

    1. J. Money October 24, 2019 at 12:31 PM

      When you figure that out please let us know!! :)

    2. Caroline Carlson October 24, 2019 at 9:46 PM

      Kat- Your health is worth more than “free” food. May I recommend a podcast called Losing 100lbs. with Corinne Crabtree. All kinds of truth bombs like that.

  8. Becky October 24, 2019 at 10:26 AM

    My “little” indulgence has been to go to the Dollar Store and buy my “snacks for work.” Turns out I’ve been getting a box of Cheese Its and either gummy candy or something chocolate more than a few times a month. My idea had been, well everything’s just a dollar. But I sorta got hooked on going every week or so to stock up on snacks for work. I have since realized that I should have better and healthier snacks anyway, so I had to rein myself back in and stop going to the Dollar Store. So watch yourself because sometimes you are your worst enabler!

    1. J. Money October 24, 2019 at 12:36 PM

      Good catch!!!

      One less thing “to do” now too which is always nice :)

  9. Moneybee October 24, 2019 at 10:48 AM

    I try to keep the ‘treat’ mentality my mom used growing up. If you get a muffin once in a while, it’s a special treat, and that’s fine and fun. But you don’t get treats every day; then they’re not treats anymore.

    It works for me because I have the opposite of Revanche’s If You Give This Mouse A Cookie syndrome. If I want ten things and decide I can’t have any, my brain *will* ruminate on those ten things, and thing number eleven, and thing number twelve, and I’m so deprived, poor me, saving money sure is miserable. If I pick one or two of the ten things I really want and get them, then I can remind myself I’ve had my ‘treats’ and need to wait a while before I can have more.

    Basically I think there are ‘limit’ people and ‘ban’ people. Seems like most PF people are ban people, but I’m definitely a limit person. (I can handle Lent, because that has a *time* limit.) Those of us who are limit people have to remember to actually set the limit or rule. “You only get one Starbucks coffee a week.” “You can only take an Uber if it’s raining.” “You can only spend x% of your income on fun personal stuff.” (That last one is a real one for me. So far so good.)

    1. J. Money October 24, 2019 at 12:43 PM

      Excellent point…

      Gotta know yourself well enough to figure out *what* rules work for you and what wouldn’t.

      Big fan of time limits here too – the 40 days of Lent has helped me squash a number of things over the years: soda, cursing, candy, shopping (!), and my favorite of all – complaining. Also the hardest thing to stop, haha…

    2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life October 25, 2019 at 5:25 PM

      I tried so hard to convince myself to be more like you in the past years because I kept hearing so many times that you SHOULD treat yourself a little bit when say, you get a raise or a windfall. After all, one of ten is better than none of ten, right? Alas no, my brain simply won’t do it. :) Oh well. We work with what we have!

  10. Pat October 24, 2019 at 2:33 PM

    Or, you can make homemade muffins and freeze them individually. Then take one with you. It’ll be thawed by the time you get there. ;) I’m a limit person, too. Once in awhile it’s such a treat so there’s no guilt and total enjoyment. When it becomes a regularity then it simply isn’t even enjoyment and becomes rote. That’s when I know it’s time to reassess.

    1. J. Money October 25, 2019 at 9:34 AM

      Fantastic hack!

      Will just have to remember to eat in the car though since it would be rude to try and sneak it into the coffee shops :)

  11. Allysgrandma October 24, 2019 at 9:51 PM

    I identified mine immediately. I used to be happy with Crystal Light mixed with ice water and a splash of real lemon juice in those gigantic cheap bottles from Costco. Then somehow I started on these cans of Minute Maid lemonade with only 5 calories and it is so much better than Crystal Light. I limit the household to 4 cases a month, that’s 48 between my husband and I. I don’t drink alcohol and we rarely eat out. Can I please have my one treat?? Oh my husband just went to Winco specifically to buy it as they were out on Monday when I was there. It was $31.01 for the 4 cases and the CA deposit fee.

    1. J. Money October 25, 2019 at 9:35 AM

      Haha, yes – anyone who can avoid alcohol like that gets whatever treats they want ;)

  12. Christina October 26, 2019 at 2:52 PM

    This actually makes perfect sense. The more you eat out…the more you desire to eat out and it’s because of you basically spoiling yourself. Its the exact same thing with a child. If you keep giving his or her their way, they’re going to want to continue to have their way. Therefore, you have to put your foot down and make your no mean no. So we have to do the exact same thing to ourselves…make our no mean no when it comes to continuously treating ourselves.

    To add, I hope their wasn’t a second date because he obviously didn’t “get it” lol.

  13. BasicBitch October 28, 2019 at 8:37 AM

    I used to get a bagel almost every morning on my way to work. Bagel and XL coffee. It’s only $6 – or so I kept telling myself. But when I realized what that came out to monthly, I decided that I needed to stop, or at least cut back.

    Now, I only hit the bagel place on Fridays. It’s my “you made it through another week treat” and it means so much more, because I look forward to it more since it’s more “occasional” than every day!

    There is always a balance to be found.

    1. J. Money October 29, 2019 at 7:17 AM

      Excellent idea!

      Way to harness it in a way that makes you feel BETTER than WORSE :)


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