absentminded eating and absentminded spending

June 24th, 2008

Absentminded Eating and Absentminded Spending

On Monday I had a colonoscopy.  And absolutely nothing was wrong – my colon is so normal it’s boring.  So basically I am fine.  Which is good, and I am very happy to be assured that nothing major is amiss.

On Sunday, to prepare for the colonoscopy, I wasn’t allowed to eat anything.  I could drink clear fluids, but no solid food.  And I made an interesting realization about my eating habits – I am often an absentminded eater.  Meaning, when I’m making food for my kids or my spouse, I’ll often eat a bit here or there in the preparation, or I’ll be walking through the kitchen and just absentmindedly grab something from the counter and eat it.  I didn’t, on Sunday, but I caught myself almost doing it more than a dozen times.

Which led me to think about the parallels for me with eating and spending.   Once upon a time I was an absentminded spender just as much as I am now an absentminded eater.  I didn’t spend piles of money, but I spent a little here and a little there and never really gave it a whole lot of thought.  When I was at the store buying something, I’d add in a few other things without fully thinking them through.  I’d pick up a few extra items here or there, or I would make a few extra stops while out and about, and not really fully consider the effect those multiple small purchases were having on my finances.

One of the biggest positive things I have done in the past year to improve my financial future is to stop making impulsive, not thought out decisions in regards to spending, and really keeping track of every penny I spend versus just the ones I planned for.  Even if I make a spur of the moment purchase, I don’t do it absentmindedly and without thinking.  I keep track of all my spending now, so I know what effect that purchase has on my finances and am making a conscious decision, not an absentminded one.

Do you make purchases without much thought?  If you did in the past and don’t any longer, what helped you turn it around?

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17 Responses to “Absentminded Eating and Absentminded Spending”

  1. I used to be sooo guilty of absent-minded spending. I never gave my balance a thought until the credit card statement came in the mail, and I wondered how it could have added up so quickly. But that wasn’t enough to stop me from repeating the same mistakes the next month.

    I decided I wanted to be out of debt, and I was serious about it. After I got married two months ago, I started working on a budget. My husband and I wrote down every single expense to see where the money was going. I cancelled a few subscriptions and cut some corners here and there, and we had a budget. We decided to continue writing down EVERY expense.

    Writing it down makes me think long and hard about what I buy because I know I’ll have to record it, and I’m going to feel guilty if I’ve bought something I know I don’t need or won’t really use. If it’s something I know we need or that we’ll get tons of use out of, I don’t feel badly about buying it.

    I think discipline is the key, and it sort of snowballs. In the year before my wedding, I resolved to get in the best shape of my life, and I did. I actually have definition in my abs now, and I still work out every bit as hard as I did before the wedding. I think achieving that goal gave me the confidence to finally achieve financial goals. It’s a matter of telling yourself “enough is enough” and really going for it. I think most people fall short of their goals because they just aren’t ready to achieve them.

  2. It’s amazing how those little habits add up, both in pounds gained and in opportunities lost.

  3. Glad your colonoscopy was successful.

    I do make absentminded purchases, quite often and right now am in the fight against them. Trying to break the habit. Often I’ll pick up lunch when I’m out and about, when I can drive home and make a sandwich. I do this a lot without thinking about it.

    In my fight against absentminded purchases, I am forcing myself to think ‘Do I really need this? Can I eat at home instead?’

  4. Glad everything’s OK
    Living consciously works, but man, sometimes it IS so much work! We watch every penny, and it has helped a lot, but -whine- I’d sure like to not have to think about what about how much something costs, just once.
    Guess that’s the price of being a grown up ;-)

  5. Glad to hear you’re ok.

    I’m probably more of an unconscious eater than an unconscious spender. But what I really really need to do is set up our house so unconscious eating is healthy eating. We’ll see.

  6. Glad all is well!

    I am a very conscious spender because I live on a limited budget, have a big loan payment monthly and choose not to work a 9-5 job 365 days a year. The quality of my life is extremely important and I am able live a full,rich life without unconscious spending.

  7. I am absolutely an absentminded spender. If something costs less than five dollars, I don’t think twice about buying it. That costs me a huge amount of money. I buy a coffee here, a slim jim there. This is very undisciplined of me.

  8. I think some of us are just born tightwads…at least, I feel lucky that I was :)

    I remember my parents drilling it in that you saved up til you had the cash to pay for something – no credit card purchases (unless paid right off). That has stuck with me.

    The one thing that sticks in my mind, a turning point in my thinking maybe, but not the spending, was reading “Your Money or Your Life”…. When I am thinking about buying something, I say “This will cost me half a day’s pay….or an hour’s pay…or a week’s pay”. ..etc….”Is it worth this portion of my life spent?” and as I don’t make a whole lot per hour, and only work 4 days a week (by choice), thinking in terms of how much of my limited work hours the purchase will use up, has really changed my attitude about the Reasons I don’t buy much.

  9. BakerDancer Says:

    June 24th, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    The BIGGEST help in this regard is my WEEKLY CASH FLOW worksheet. It’s an Excel spreadsheet that helps me plan my expenses WEEKS & MONTHS in advance. If I suddenly become overwhelmed with the desire to purchase something unexpected, I can easily see how this will affect my bottom line; not only in the present, but also in the future. This has saved my life, because now I really stop and, not only think, but actively plan my spending. Today I borrowed a friend’s truck to take a bunch of trash to the dump. I thought it would be a nice gesture to fill his gas tank as a thank you. Thanks to my cash flow sheet, I was able to see that, while I couldn’t afford to fill the tank, I could definitely manage $40 worth of gas. I felt good pumping the gas because I knew he would appreciate it and I knew that it wouldn’t prevent me from paying a bill three weeks from now. I HIGHLY recommend it!

  10. Very relieved to hear your innards are OK, as far as anyone can tell. Don’t let some quack blame you for your bellyaches, though: just because they can’t tell what’s ailing doesn’t mean it’s all in your pretty little head….it just means they don’t know.

    When my belly hurt (for year after year after year), I finally realized that if it was something serious it would have killed me. So was able to continue life in a more or less normal way by putting the pain on the back burner. What the heck, eh? Menopause made it all go away. :-)

    Women’s habit of eating food not consumed by their children (because it’s wasteful to throw food out, eh?) and of nibbling while cooking is a major cause of overweight. Just as our habit of spending absentmindedly is a cause of debt. Maybe it’s no coincidence that many PF bloggers also blog about weight control!

    I learned from SDXB, the Emperor of Cheap, to pick up a coveted item, look it over carefully, then set it down and continue about the shopping trip before deciding to buy it. During this process, he asks himself “Do I really need this? Why? If I really need this, do I need it now, or can it wait?” Often if it can wait, you discover while waiting that you didn’t really need (want) it after all.

  11. I’m glad to hear the colonoscopy went well.

    I’m trying to decide whether I spend absentmindedly and I think I alternate between being absentminded and being extremely focused.

    I’m paying attention, tracking what I’m doing, what else needs to get paid, etc. and then suddenly I’m just drifting along with the cruise control on and the brain is off on vacation. I don’t buy a lot for myself though. It’s more often stuff for my 5 yo.

  12. I always snack while I work. It’s a horrible habit!

  13. Idontwanttoleavemyname Says:

    June 25th, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    You should chew gum while cooking. Most have almost no calories.

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