Yes, you read that correctly. No, this does not mean I will be heading out on any mindless shopping sprees.
For the past four weeks, I’ve been caught in a vortex of incessant number crunching. Perhaps it’s my way to exuding control over situations that are clearly out of my control (ahem…job searching…), or perhaps it’s because I don’t feel confident that something great is going to come along anytime soon. Hell, it could even be a mix of the two plus other factors I haven’t quite figured out..
Regardless, I’ve been crunching numbers daily in an effort to ease my no-longer-subconscious anxiety over this transitional period. And quite simply, I’m driving myself crazy.
I’ve realized that I’ve entered a stage of budget-related stress that I’ve never felt before. For the life of me, I can’t seem to figure out how I went from happily setting my monthly budget and monitoring my spending to obsessing over every penny spent multiple times throughout the day. As someone who has worked tirelessly to instill a sense of balance into my efforts, I know that I’ve officially entered the Dark Side of budgeting.
What is the Dark Side of budgeting?
For me, it’s clear that I’ve entered the Dark Side of budgeting because I’m obsessed with every.single.cent. Every decision I make–despite a seeming lack of connection to money on the surface–has everything to do with my budget. Worst of all, my sleep has been horrendous because I’m having nightmares about paying bills, draining savings, and my Excel sheet (even though I have ample savings and have yet to touch it!). The Dark Side of budgeting is a realm where you’re not really focused on your budget–you’re obsessed with it to the point of feeling paralyzed.
Some signs you’ve entered the Dark Side of budgeting
- You’re turning down opportunities to spend time with friends because you fear they’ll require spending money (I even turned down a walk around a local pond; I was certain I’d get roped into lunch, etc. and wouldn’t go)
- You’re calculating your next grocery purchase as you prepare your lunch (Don’t use two tomatoes–save the other one for dinner!)
- Most horrendously, you’re looking over your budget sheet at least 2 times/day even though the numbers clearly haven’t changed….
- When you even think of the word budget, you physically feel stressed
How to re-emerge from the Dark Side of budgeting
- Take a break
- Close the bank account web browser tabs, shut down the computer, hide the checkbook
- Make your break long enough so you’re able to clearly identify what’s really bothering you
- Create a plan to overcome whatever anxiety is leading you to feel so stressed out
- Follow the plan, but keep your spending in check–this is not a time to go into “head in the sand” mode!
- Get out of the house, exercise, spend time with friends, etc. The key is to give your mind a complete break from the budget mindset
- Re-assess and make necessary tweaks until you’re able to return to your normal budgeting habits
The actions above are exactly what I’ll be doing. While circumstances may very well change this week (I’m waiting on the official offer package for the 10 interview job!), I still need to give myself this opportunity to decompress from all things related to numbers–aside from potential salary negotiations…wahoo!
While this certainly won’t be an easy feat to force myself to take this break, I know it’s necessary, I’ll benefit in many ways from doing so, and I’ll return to the budget scene rejuvenated and ready to tackle the next set of obstacles I’m faced with (or goals I’ll set). And when I’m ready to return to the world of budgets and tracking my pennies, this spreadsheet from Debt Advisory Centre is a great start to help with doing so (it’s not listed in dollars, but the general idea is all the same—track your money so you know where it’s going and what you can do better with it!).
Have you ever found yourself on the Dark Side of budgeting?
What did you do to snap out of it?
Photo credit: topgold