Financial Diet Cheat Days & Refocus

“Don’t let a cheat day turn into a cheat week”.

That’s the advice I used to hear from personal trainers and fitness experts all over the world wide web. When trying to stick to a strict diet, there is bound to be days where you fall off the wagon. There might be a day where you end up letting loose a little, you eat a large Domino’s pizza, a couple of Big Macs, four Easter eggs, and a triple chocolate chip muffin. Shit happens. When it does hit the proverbial fan, there’s no use in either sulking about it or giving up and letting it repeat itself. It’s not ideal, certainly not part of the plan, but as long as it doesn’t turn into a cheat week, or giving up, you’re going to be OK. The very next day you smash out a High Intensity Training session as soon as you wake up and you get your healthy meals prepared for the day or two ahead. Before you know it, you’re back on track and the little blip is a distant, sugary, blissful memory.

I like to think the same about spending.

This weekend, I had a spendy day, or couple of spendy days.

My usual ‘free’ tea on Thursday evening at my parents was cancelled. Rather than picking up some bits from the supermarket or, even better, rustling up from what was left in cupboards at home, we ate out. When I would have a bad day eating in my fit and healthy days, I would skip the gym, compounding all the culinary errors during the day. This was exactly that. Compounding the loss of a free meal by paying a premium for one. This was then exasperated the following day when I offered to buy lunch for the family in lieu of the Thursday evening meal. Whilst a nice gesture, and a great time was had, it had the opposite affect on my target spending.

My fiancee and I were due to head to York for a pre-wedding photo shoot which we had planned on driving to. I know from fastidiously comparing my MPG after each fill up that it costs me about 11p per mile to travel in the car. At 85 miles(ish) each way, it would cost nearly £19 to get us there and back. In a moment of madness and drunken stupour the night before, we decided the train would be a better idea and under the influence of alcohol, our transport cost trebled. We of course got a taxi to the train station.

We then ‘treated’ ourselves to eating breakfast out. I bought a book, even though I had already bought three this month and used up my allowance. My better half kindly offered to pay for lunch, but soon after I was buying teas and cakes in a small coffee shop.

We inexplicably missed our train. Rather than waiting an hour to catch the next available one, we stumped up £20 to catch the one in 9 minutes time.

All this was adding up in my head as I snoozed on the journey back. A quite wonderful weekend was had by all, but the wallet took some unplanned wacking.

My response was to not wallow in self pity, cancel my plans for Financial Independence exclaiming I simply can’t do it. I didn’t weep at the thought of my lack of self control. Whilst the immediate gratification of foregoing this months investments and picking up some overly priced fashionable goods might have temporarily healed my wounds, I opted for a different approach.

I planned.

We needed public transport home from the station. Instead of simply going for the bus at almost £5 for the two of us. I ordered my first Uber, with a handy £5 off from a recommendation promo code. £1.77 to get home. We stayed in that evening, knocking up a delightful sweet potato hash with eggs and chorizo from stuff kicking around the cupboards.

Back at work this week, my meals are left over hot cross buns for breakfast, bagels donated from the in-laws (they didn’t like them) with last weeks cream cheese and some salmon. Party tea last night for my step-nephew at the family’s and then left over turkey and veg tonight. Total food spend since Monday morning; £4.20.

I’m away from early tomorrow on my Stag Do and I have reduced my budget for this weekend by £50 as well.

Bump overcome, discipline corrected.

My frivolous spending was spurred on by a niggling little devils voice saying that it was OK, it wouldn’t affect me that much and I would recover. He was right. I can recover, I can get over this. The key is to not do this every weekend, not repeat this process of getting knocked down and having to fight back up again.

Having a ‘cheat day’ helps you to re-focus and is also an excellent way of realising what all the extra spending gets you. Lunch for my family was a great idea. Paying for taxis and extra trains, not so much.

With a set aside pot of money this weekend, I can afford to not think about what I’m spending, and I’m sure the lads might get me a drink or two.


One thought on “Financial Diet Cheat Days & Refocus

  1. Expenses ebb and flow to match our moods and life in general. No point in getting too worried about any of it as long as the general direction you are going is the right one. We’ve had a few spendy months since November but April should be a bit more back to normal, and hoping that the summer months, ironically, also will be fairly low spend (all our holidays are avoiding the summer hols so they’re cheaper!).

    Hope you have a great Stag do and yes the boys should be buying you most of your drinks so you shouldn’t have to spend that much (although maybe you will wish that were not the case when handed your 15th beer of the day… haha!)


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