Hindsight is 20/20, but Old Habits Die Hard

Summer 2011 tournament

I thought I’d try and squeeze as many cliches in the title as possible. But what do they say about cliches? They are actually true for a reason.

Friday night after working at D’s, I let my guard down and we went out to eat. That was $17.

This past Saturday I played in my first competitive beach volleyball tournament in a little over a year. Never mind the fact that I played terrible and went 1-6 and was last place in my pool, but I paid $35 on top of that.

After that I bought beer and brought it out to the beach to hang out with some friends and blow off some steam playing fun beach volleyball games. Of course I was wise enough not to drive home, so I called up D to go have a burger with me before I drove home. Beer and food was another $20.

Now $17, $35, & $20 isn’t necessarily a big deal in most people’s worlds, but here is the current situation:

I still haven’t gotten paid for any jobs I did in October yet (except for the haunted house which was $250, and of course the little side jobs like personal assisting, taskrabbit, and the last of the container store), and at the top of the month are my biggest expenses (rent/$1400 & health insurance/$205).

I also paid $200 for five personal training sessions, and the rent check ($150) from the guy who rents my garage bounced, and I can’t get a hold of him!

Sunday morning I found myself in a predicament I have been in countless times, especially in the last four years of freelancing; I spend money before I even have it in my hands, then panic when my bank account balance gets too low, and have to borrow once again from my emergency fund. And I’m really pissed that guy’s check bounced and I can’t get in touch with him. I should’t be freaking out over $150, but I am because I need it.


The part about hindsight.

When I was first thrown into the freelance world in October 2008, I had a job lined up right away. A big job. One that paid me aprox. $14,000 that month. And…wait for it…I was still getting my full time salary for six months after that, along with some other freelance jobs.

By the time my severance ran out, I had aprox. $25,000 sitting in an emergency fund, and no debt.

If only I’d just been a little more careful with my budget (which didn’t really exist), I could have stretched that money out for a long, long time.

Instead I paid for expensive beach volleyball lessons, went out to eat, did a little traveling, etc.

And I had many months that were very lean in terms of freelancing work, especially in the latter half of 2008.

Old Habits Die Hard.

This past week was a lapse back into the old me. The one who let her guard down and didn’t consider all the factors before being careless with spending.

That girl had a really good time. She did. I’m sure she was a lot more fun to be around because she always said yes to plans. Always had new cute bathing suits. And certainly played better volleyball because she paid so much for training. And even though it was free I was always out playing games during the week, when I should have been working on my business, and looking for more work.

But a part of growing up (no matter what age you are) is realizing what is working and what isn’t. That life doesn’t work for me anymore. At least not right now. 

I have to learn and remember what triggers my spending. One thing for me is being out at the beach all day. Sure it’s fun, but it leads to feeling too carefree, which leads to going out to eat.

And part of me does crave being in competitive tournaments again, but I also know the cost. The cost of training, or constantly playing, and the entry fees themselves.

It’s not to say that I can never do them again, but I need to make sure everything else is well taken care of first, and be prepared to not do as well because to do well you have to be consistent. And that’s just something I can’t be right now.

Do you ever find yourself falling back into old habits that weren’t financially healthy for you? 


Tonya is a video editor/producer and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball, playing ukulele, and running. To get the latest updates, be sure to subscribe. To support her fundraising efforts to produce more video for this site, please visit her crowdfunding page!

Latest posts by Tonya (see all)

  • http://sanpedroitza.wordpress.com Pauline

    Happens to me all the time when I come back to Paris. How expensive is that city! But I concentrate most of my social life of the year in a month or so, so I don’t blame myself too much. If I were living there full time, I’m sure there would be some serious adjustments to be made. It sucks about your parking guy. I rent one too, and never thought about asking for a deposit, but I think I should with the next tenant to avoid those kind of problems.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.wordpress.com Budget & the Beach

      Got the parking situation straightened out! I can imagine Paris would be really expensive! Reminds me of NY in that way.

  • http://savvyfinanciallife.wordpress.com SavvyFinancialLatina

    It happens to us all the time. Food is our weakness. We don’t cook as often as we should, and end up eating out a lot.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.wordpress.com Budget & the Beach

      I’m starting to see that is a pattern with a lot of people.

      • http://savvyfinanciallife.wordpress.com SavvyFinancialLatina

        Sigh, unfortunately. When it seems like we are getting better, we just don’t. :/

  • http://debtandthegirl.com Debt and the Girl

    It sounds like you made some mistakes in the past but are now in a position to learn from them and thats the most important thing. We all moments where we spend more than we should. The truth is that life would be pretty boring if we only did the things that we SHOULD do so I wouldn’t worry too much about it if you know you have money coming in.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.wordpress.com Budget & the Beach

      I guess you’re right about that. Being perfect is boring and slip ups can make life more interesting. :) At least I get a grip quicker than I used to.

  • http://twitter.com/PlungedinDebt Plunged in Debt (@PlungedinDebt)

    Happens to me more than I’d like. Money is super tight right now but sometimes I crave the feeling of just being able to go do something without thinking about whether we can afford to or not. Constantly thinking about money is EXHAUSTING.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.wordpress.com Budget & the Beach

      I SOOOO hear you there!

  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    It happens to us too. Our weakness is eating out and can be a difficult one to break. We try to curb it by allowing ourselves a certain amount of cash each month. Once it’s gone then it’s gone. We’re not always perfect, but it does generally help us a lot.

    • http://budgetandthebeach.wordpress.com Budget & the Beach

      That’s a pretty good guideline. I wonder if the whole personal finance thing is easier when you have a significant other to cheer you on.

  • http://therandompath.wordpress.com therandompath

    Totally understand about falling back into old habits. Eating out is a big one for us. We have food at home but won’t feel like cooking, so we get take-out. Such a bad habit!

    • http://budgetandthebeach.wordpress.com Budget & the Beach

      It seems a lot of people have that same habit! Easy seems to equal money spent.

  • kathleen

    Well said. I get into this too — it’s like a slippery slope, and happy hours are the segue. Going out after work means not going to the grocery store, which starts a bad cycle!

    • http://budgetandthebeach.wordpress.com Budget & the Beach

      So true, because you’re hungry (and probably a little buzzed) and so it’s just easier to eat out once you are already out.

      • kathleen

        yeah and then one night turns into two bc happy hour isn’t that expensive! eh the justifications are limitless!

  • http://www.thefreefinancialadvisor.com/average-joes-money-blog/ AverageJoe

    I’m all about bad habits. My whole day is avoiding those triggers that cause me to spend money. It’s funny. I don’t carry cash because I spend it. I’m a pretty good saver….but only because I stay away. When I don’t, there’s BIG trouble comin’!

    • http://budgetandthebeach.wordpress.com Budget & the Beach

      I have more of a problem with my card then cash. Cash seems to keep me in check a bit more. Funny how we all have our own triggers.

  • Living Debt Free Rocks!

    You’re definitely not alone. Over here’s in our household eating out/ordering in is what we sometimes lapse with and waste money on. When we see a bad month go by, we evaluate why and reign it in and it tends to improve. I’m glad you that the person dealt with you concerning the parking space.

  • kimateyesonthedollar

    We are terrible if we start eating out. It’s kind of like the dam breaks and we keep doing it. We certainly don’t live near the beach, but everythind does seem more expensive there, so I can see how that would be hard.

  • http://uniquegifter.com Anne @ Unique Gifter

    Did you have fun at least? (I hope the current stress isn’t making you regret the whole thing, because it’s in the past now.)
    That sucks that you havent’been paid for the whole month of October’s work yet! Boo to what my brother and I grew up calling “variable income stress factor” (my Dad is self employed… stressed Mom out!)

  • http://www.mymoneydesign.com My Money Design

    At least you realize there is a problem with the way you spend money before you have it, so some part of you will find a way to solve it. I find myself falling back into old habits all the time when it comes to money. Sometimes when things are going good, its hard not to get caught up in riding the roller coaster up. But it does eventually go back down, and we need to be ready. Jason over at Work Save Live has got some good articles about having an irregular income budget that might be helpful.

  • http://www.seedebtrun.com Michelle @ See Debt Run

    My trigger is shopping. This past weekend, we had to replace our coffee maker that died and my daughter had outgrown her carseat. This little bit of necessary shopping and spending led to me looking through all the little girl clothes, wanting to buy everything, but refraining and being pouty about it instead. It’s better for me if I just stay away from the mall, the baby and kids’ clothing stores, and the shoe stores.

  • http://www.moneyandpotatoes.com/ Zimmy

    If you have a converted garage that can be used as a living area you are way undercharging for rent. You should be charging more than double what you currently are. I would kick the bum out and find someone who is a little more responsible and can meet his rent obligations.