It was 11pm … and I was staring down at a plate of cucumber slices and half an avocado.
This was not what I wanted.
But a major fail for late-night-wants-to-eat-junk-food-Chris was a huge win for day-time-Chris-who-planned-on-eating-healthy-this-week.
Because if I’ve learned anything about health – physical or financial – it’s that there are certain times in my life when I have no ability to rationally make the healthy choice… and given the chance… I will spend/eat my way to sickness.
I call those times … the bad decision zone.
My late night bad-decision zone
I got myself to a plate of late night cucumbers by an ingenious trick… I didn’t buy any junk food.
So when I got to that late night bad-decision-zone where I just want to eat something full of salt, fat, or sugar (preferably all three)…. there was nothing there.
And so even though I was always going to make the worst decision possible, I made sure that the potential decisions weren’t actually that bad (the bad part of that healthy plate is the amount of cream cheese I ate with the cucumbers as a ‘spread’… still not bad… but… it was excessive).
It doesn’t always work so well, but I’ve found the act of recognizing my bad habits has allowed me to start figuring out how to work around them (at least… when I want to).
Travel planning and spending thousands of dollars on baked goods
The other bad-decision-zone I’ve been forced to recognize in myself has come up as I prepare to leave on a month long trip later today!!!
I was sitting down on the weekend and working through a budget, and became kind of daunted by the cost of travel.
It was so tempting to adjust some of the categories to make myself feel better…especially what I was planning on spending on things like ‘food’.
But here’s the thing….
I know I’ve got a real bad-decision-zone when it comes to food and traveling.
Whenever I start getting hungry, all bets are off. I want to the tastiest looking thing that’s within eyeshot.
So how do I balance the want to eat great food while I travel… and my want to not come home with $3000 of extra credit card debt?
Mitigating your financial bad-decision-zones
The first step is always awareness. Here’s what I know:
1. I want to eat great food while traveling
2. I cannot make rational financial decisions about that food when hungry
So how do I plan around that?
With my original junk food problem, I limited the decisions I could possibly make, and the same general principle works here.
A daily food budget.
Which is both generous enough to fulfil my travel goals of trying everything that looks tasty… but limits me from making insane choices that I’ll regret later.
I’ll carry it in cash, and only bring the daily amount with me when I’m exploring for the day.
That way there’s a maximum amount of damage my bad decisions can make.
Bad-decisions are hard to manage in the moment
It’s impossible to argue with hungry-travel-Chris.
Once I’m in one of my bad-decision-zones it is way too late to do something about the inevitable bad choice.
That’s why planning and self-awareness are so important when it comes to health.
Don’t pretend like you don’t have bad habits. We all do. Just know what they are, and make some plans to make sure that you don’t sacrifice what you want in the big picture (financial health) for what you want in the moment (all the tasty treats).
Decide how much splurging is okay… and how much would be really damaging to your big goals.
That way you can put all the bad-decision-yous in a cage. They can go as crazy as they want… but they won’t be able to tear the whole house down.
Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator
Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.
She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.
Email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org