A lot of us wish we spent less money, just like we wish we ate less food. And a lot of us feel bad when we spend too much money or eat too much food.

We think maybe we’ll feel better if we put our spending or eating on diet. But that’s hard, and challenging, and a constant fight against our hedonistic urges.

Then there are times we buy or eat things and they’re just so awesome and beautiful and rewarding we don’t regret it for a second.

Maybe it’s a chocolate bar, or a new gas stove, or a lavish dinner for your six closest friends, cooked on your new gas stove (the dinner, not your friends).

Sometimes spending or eating is good, even if it is indulgent. It’s probably only bad if doing it makes you feel bad.

The problem, I’ve found, is that it takes a while to get into good financial or physical shape. But that consistent work can be quickly undone by one or two impulse buys or binge eats.

So a solution I’ve found, is to try to "think responsibly": when you’re in those "I must have it now" moments, take a step back and have a little conversation with the urge to splurge, before you actually follow it.

I've recently discovered two simple ways to do this.

- Give it the 10-minute test, or the overnight test. (Or whatever period of time is appropriate and proportional to how much the urge will cost you in rands or guilt.)

For example, you see the chocolate bar:

Urge: I want that chocolate bar.

You: We’ll wait ten minutes. If we still want it then, we’ll eat it.

Or, you see the gas stove:

Urge: That gas stove would be awesome. We could feel like Jamie or Nigella with that gas stove.

You: That gas stove is R7000. Let’s see if we still want it as much when we’re eating beans on toast.

Urge: Yum. Beans, warmed on gas stove.

You: They’re the same beans, out of the same tin.

Urge: Must. Have. Gas. Stove.

You: Must. Wait.

This is like the old cooling off period. Only, it’s the one that comes before the purchase. Not the one that comes after, when you won’t take it back because it’s already been installed, or can’t take it back because it’s already been ingested.

- Give it the end of day (or month) test.

For example, you see the chocolate bar.

Urge:I want that chocolate bar.

You: If we eat it, how will we feel at the end of the day?

Urge: Full of health and vitality?

You: I’m thinking no.

Or, you see the gas stove.

Urge: That gas stove would be awesome.

You: If we buy it, how will we feel at the end of the month?

Urge: Like Jamie or Nigella?

You: Maybe. Or poor and penniless, maybe.

Urge: Jamie Nigella.

You: Poor. Penniless.

Urge: Nigella Jamie?

This is like the old twelve rounds. Sometimes there will be a knockout. Sometimes it will go the distance. It’s almost always worth the fight.

Because whatever the final outcome, you’ll know you got there thoughtfully and mindfully, and you’re more likely to be happy with your choice, and less likely to regret it.

So these two methods have been serving me well lately. I’m making better decisions about my spending (and my eating) since I’ve been employing them.

At least, most of the time. Of course, I’m human and I do succumb occasionally. But as a great someone once said: I’m not okay, you’re not okay. And that’s okay.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fight the urge to scoff a seafood platter.

Article by 22Seven.

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