Imbalance and Lifestyle Inflation

When life gets too busy, do you find yourself succumbing to lifestyle inflation?Making lots of money as a freelancer sometimes comes at a price, and that price is time…and sometimes my sanity.

It seems like since the beginning of December I’ve pretty much done two things:

1. Work (I’ll include blogging into that category, because for me it is a part-time job)

2. Train for my 1/2 marathon.

The point is, I’ve been feeling unbalanced…and just a bit “off,” and that is leading to increased spending.

For instance, for the last month I was pretty much working up until the time I usually eat dinner, except that I forgot to cook (read: didn’t feel like it), so I’ve definitely consumed some “convenience” meals like my favorite chicken and rice meal from Trader Joe’s.

Last weekend my producer needed me to work Saturday afternoon and Sunday, so I paid to have my apartment cleaned for the first time in forever while I was out doing my long training run Saturday morning.

There  have been times where I feel like I’ve come very close to plopping down some big dough on a fabulous two-week international trip. Luckily I didn’t, but I am planning a trip to Austin for a week in April so I can check out the city as a potential place to live someday, and sign up for another run while I’m there called the Austin 10/20. Would it be a trip I would have planned if I wasn’t feeling so imbalanced? Perhaps, since it was in my 2014 goals, but maybe a little more thought would be put into how I could do it more cheaply than I am.

I also got a massage last week, partially due to healthful, therapeutic reasons for my body to help me train more efficiently, but let’s face it, partially because I just wanted to relax.

I haven’t been sleeping well at all, so I’ve purchased more “things” to try and help me sleep, like magnesium, and this “sleep well” concoction from Whole Foods. Still waiting to see what, if anything, will work. So far I’ve had mixed results.

Have you ever been too busy or imbalanced where it’s led to more spending? I could see the opposite happening too, where you’re just too busy to even leave the house to buy anything! :) So I’m curious!


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)

  • MakintheBacon

    Being too busy/imbalanced has led to both more spending (mainly on food), but at the same time more saving ( I haven’t had time to go shopping to buy clothes, which I desperately need), so perhaps they cancel each other out? Lol.
    Regarding lack of sleep, I ‘ve been using Valerian on and off, based on your suggestion in my “Sleepless in Seattle” post. In my experience, I haven’t noticed a huge change in my sleeping patterns, except that I get crazy dreams from it.

    • Tonya

      I’ve heard that about melatonin but I haven’t experienced that so much with just valerian. Right now I’m taking both an OTC AND something with valerian in it. I feel kind of like a drug addict. But man I need sleep!

  • hollyrere

    Learning to live a more balanced life is definitely on my to-do list this year since I feel that’s the biggest barrier I have at reaching out and trying to grab some of the big goals I’ve set for myself this year personally.

    • Tonya

      I know sometimes it feels there is nothing going on, then the next minute everything is going on!

  • moneystepper

    That’s the only problem with having specific goals. Sometimes you get so engrossed in them that you forget about everything else! Food expenditure definitely seems to go up when I’m super busy and don’t have time to prepare/plan meals.

    • Tonya

      Seems like a lot of people are having or had the same problem, especially in that area!

  • Debt and the Girl

    Finding the time to do everything can be really hard. I am having that same problem as well. Hopefully both of us will get better time management LOL.

    • Tonya

      Sounds like a lot of people are. Maybe it’s the post holiday rush or something?

  • Kali @ Common Sense Millennial

    I’ve definitely been in that position – getting out of whack and feeling overwhelmed in one area can lead me to spend more to try and make up for it. Of course, it ends up with me just feeling overwhelmed, period, because I’m out more money! I’m constantly working to improve my time management so I can stay on top of everything.. without going crazy!

    • Tonya

      It can be a vicious cycle. I mean I’m glad I’m making a lot with freelancing, but my goal is to KEEP a lot of that money for various savings buckets! ugh! :)

  • Leslie Beslie

    Race training was pretty frugal for me. My job is purely weekdays so I don’t have to worry about that balance after a long Saturday run. For me, the weekend went, Friday Night: Go to bed early (not spending money out); Saturday: Get up 7a to run, come home & relax, eat lunch & dinner at home (because I’m tired/sore to go out), go to bed early because I’m exhausted (not spending money out); Sunday: Sleep in a little, relax at home because my legs are sore, maybe get delivery food as a ‘treat’.

    • Tonya

      yeah I think the work thing thrown into the mix of training has been the biggest challenge.

  • MyMoneyDesign

    I think my entire life as a parent has been spent in imbalance! :) There are a lot of times where I’m so tired, annoyed, frustrated, whatever that I hardly know or care what it is we’re spending money on.

    I will say – getting a massage does help! We’ve been finding a little bit of extra money to put towards this every month and what a difference it makes to relax you.

    • Tonya

      And at least it’s a healthy indulgence, right? :)

  • Adam Kamerer

    I definitely find that our spending gets thrown off when things aren’t balanced at home. It throws us out of our normal routine, and that tends to lead to more convenience or impulse purchases. We’re getting better about trying to step aside and consciously figure out a NEW routine to get things back on track.

    • Tonya

      Yeah I guess the goal is to try and adjust as quickly as possible to new things that come up in your life.

  • Michelle

    I find that I spend less when I am super busy. Just trying to make it to the store seems like an impossible task when I am busy!

    • Tonya

      For me driving to trader joe’s is quicker than making my own meal. lol!

  • Girl Meets Debt

    This may sound crazy but even with my full time job and spending more than 25 hours a week on my blog for the past year I’ve yet to feel “too busy” but don’t I know all about spending more when stressed. Yikes! Austin in April sounds like fun!

    • Tonya

      It gets really easy to do when you’re stressed!

  • Andrew

    Having a 6-month old baby puts time at a premium. I do tend to pay for convenience when I’m tired and have little time. We’ve been ordering take-out more often, and eating out for lunch at work rather than bringing out lunches more often.

    • Tonya

      I told another commenter that all of you with kids have my respect since that’s something I don’t even have to deal with. I imagine that can make things challenging!

  • debtfreeoneday

    Yes! I spend more when I’m feeling off. Especially on food. I try to cook from scratch all the time and plan meals so that I spend as little as possible at the supermarket. Then I’ll have a week where I’m tired, stressed or busy and I end up nipping to the shop to buy something ‘nice’ for dinner. Trouble is I end up spending much more on bits I don’t need!

    • Tonya

      Yep, it happens. I feel good at least for the most part making healthy choices when I do pay for conveniences, instead of eating fast food or something, but it’s also more expensive!

  • Angella

    Time management is actually on my list of 2014 goals. I’ve had a hard time trying to juggle it all, especially with a wild 3 year old to chase after. It’s exhausting! This also leads me to spend more on food…

    • Tonya

      Yes you all with kids have my utmost respect. I can’t imagine throwing that into the mix!

  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    I can so relate to this Tonya! We’ve been dealing with this exact thing ourselves the past few months. We’ve been VERY busy with work, which I’m beyond thankful for, but it has led to things we’d not normally do. I think when it’s kept at a minimum you’re fine, it’s finding the balance that’s the hard part.

    • Tonya

      Feast or famine in the freelance world, isn’t it? At least I’m not alone with this minor problem. :) Hope you can find some balance soon!

  • Shannon Ryan

    I hear you, Tonya! Balance is so important but it’s not always easy to do. :) I have yet to truly master this and have accepted that my life is just going to be hectic and busy. And that’s okay as long as the activities are truly things I enjoy or matter to me. I don’t like saying “no” but I do it more now than I have before. I have also finally concluded that I can’t do everything and accept help in some areas – like cleaning my home.

    • Tonya

      Good point about accepting help when needed. It was nice to not have to lift a finger for once, although she showed up really late and when I got home my house was literally torn apart and all I wanted to do was eat and shower. ha ha!

  • Erika Newlyweds

    we’ve also been spending spending spending! i think it’s a bit leftover from the holidays… sometimes we go through cycles and you just have to go with the flow. i wouldn’t worry too much since you’re usually so responsible.

    • Tonya

      Good point about cycles. That does seem to happen. I’m just glad at least this time I have a bit of a financial cushion!

  • Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies

    I’m in the same boat this month. January has been insanely busy and I have to admit my spending is a bit out of control. I spent A LOT on food, thankfully that’s the only category I spend these days. That said, I have more food in my fridge than I can eat and it’s all down to poor meal planning. Now that things started to calm down a little, I am sure my spending will go down. Hope the same will happen for you :)

    • Tonya

      Yeah I need to get a grip. Food isn’t my problem area as much as life “stuff” and entertainment have gone up.

  • All That Glitters

    I also think it’s the time of year, T. It seems like from November up until about now things are moving a mile a minute, encouraging us to spend as frequently. With the holidays behind us and everyone prepping for a new year – things should ease a bit, I’d think. On the plus side, consider those times you weren’t working and how unsettled that makes you, too. Though I can certainly understand that balance is always a struggle.

    • Tonya

      It does seem like with work it’s always feast or famine. This past year was the first year that December was crazy. Normally it was always a slow time of the year. This usually begins the crazy time of year (Q1) so we’ll see if it’s like that again this year.

  • E.M.

    I think it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at times and lose track of spending, but it’s great to recognize it so that you might catch yourself before eating out again. Seems like you have good reasons for all the extra spending. If hiring help to clean your apartment keeps you sane, it’s a worthwhile splurge! I hope things settle down for you soon.

    • Tonya

      They already seem slower this week…perhaps even too slow since one job got cancelled. Argh! Can’t win when it comes to balance and freelancing! :)

  • eemusings (NZMuse)

    Yeah for me it often leads to more money spent on food, if nothing else! Fingers crossed things calm down soon (but you know, not TOO much).

    • Tonya

      ha ha I know right. It’s that careful what you wish for thing. :)

  • Done by Forty

    Back when I was working for a credit card company, I definitely got to that point a lot. Super stressed, waking up in the middle of the night worried about work, totally imbalanced. Luckily I got out (at the advice of the therapist that my company paid for!) and now I am way happier, with a true work-life balance. It’s allowed me to finally blog, work out, play sports, go on date nights with my wife (when she’s around)…I have no complaints.

    Sorry to hear things are out of whack, but it’s all temporary, and all in your hands. Cheers, blogging buddy!

    • Tonya

      It is temporary! Hopefully work does stay stead though. I guess you gotta be happy with what you got going on at the time. :) That’s funny your worked paid for your therapist. :)

  • http://Www.Plantingourpennies.Com/ Mrs PoP @ PlantingOurPennies

    This is totally our MO. When we get stressed and busy the easiest place to see it is in our food spending (hello convenience foods!) and the state of our house. It’ll get so messy I’d be embarrassed to have a cleaning lady over!

    You’ll get your balance back. In the meantime, focus on the good. It’s better to have a ton of work than no work, right? =)

    • Tonya

      I know…it’s a careful what you wish for post. :)

  • Micros Missions

    I could see that being a pretty vicious cycle. Working up until you have to stop for things like food or sleep. You feel drained so you have to pay for food since you don’t have the time to cook. Not giving yourself time to wind down for sleep means you sleep less and are tired the next day, so coffee runs become necessary to help you function. Down the rabbit hole you go until you collapse in a sleep deprived coma when you finally have a free moment.

    • Tonya

      ha ha well now! That’s pretty bad! :) I do skip the coffee to try and avoid the caffeine since I’m already tweaky.

  • Brian @ Luke1428

    This happens to us during sports seasons. My oldest daughter is playing JV basketball so we are constantly running late after practice or off to away games. We find ourselves paying more in game admissions fees and eating out from November – February (the length of the season). It balances itself out after the season is over. I guess that’s important…whenever you are out of balance, at some point you have to get back in balance.

    • Tonya

      Yeah true. I think I also wanted to be part of the social aspect of 1/2 training too, which means eating out a bit more with friends. I have to say I’ve been a bit careless, but having more fun that way. So tough to walk that line.

  • Michelle

    I think that it’s important to remember the cost of your time. You are making BANK right now. If having someone come in and clean helps you to manage your time-do it! You can make more money without your house looking crazy. I have several friends (ok, most are European) who have someone come in weekly to help clean things. Once I’m in a bigger place I’ll do the same..every other week :)

    • Tonya

      My place is small and pretty easy to clean, so overall I should REALLY do it myself. lol! I only do it like twice a year so I guess its not that bad. I do think that sometimes your time is more valuable.

  • Stefanie @ brokeandbeau

    There are not enough hours in the day! I work like crazy on the blog and have yet to see it pay off in a meaningful way financially, I find it SO frustrating.

    • Tonya

      I’m sorry Stefanie. :( That is really frustrating when you’re working your butt off and not seeing the results you want. I hope that changes for you soon! LMK if there is anything I can do to help!

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar

    I would sooo eat out if I had to work on Saturday! I certainly spent more on unplanned things when I worked all the time. However, if you are not in debt, hitting your savings goals, and making good money, I think it’s OK to have some splurges or things that make your life more convenient.

    • Tonya

      I know I just kept thinking that I would just work work work and save save save and try to play catch up with all these savings buckets, but I guess that’s a bit unrealistic eh? :)

  • Travis Pizel

    This happens to us when we don’t do our grocery shopping on the weekend as planned. Monday comes, and like today, we had a science fair at my son’s high school. Tuesday is confirmation class for my daughter, and Wednesday is dance class. Had we not menu planned and grocery shopped what would we have done for dinner? Let’s say it together….DRIVE THROUGH.

    • Tonya

      lol!! Yeah I guess it happens to the best of us. Sigh…Adding kids to the factor would certainly make things that much more challenging!

  • Dear Debt

    When I feel out of balance I spend more, because I stop caring. I also spend money on food, because I’m too lazy or don’t care about cooking. Feeling too busy and off makes me apathetic, which is really bad for money! I am somewhere in between apathetic and energized now and it’s annoying. I’m not making the side hustle income I used to which is getting me down. I also feel too tired and lame to try harder. Excuses, excuses, but I’m working through it. I know we will get out of it and feel more balanced soon. These things ebb and flow.

    • Tonya

      The do ebb and flow. I’m just now starting to get more ad inquiries but I was worried my PR ranking would change all that. I think all this is how we learn patience. With ourselves…others. In the not-to-distance future I could have no work and be complaining about that. I need to take it more in stride. I hope your motivation picks up as well as your side income!

  • Tonya Rapley

    Haha! My name is Tonya too! But absolutely. I recently finished grad school and have filled my class and study hours with working on growing the site. I feel like I have two full-time jobs. This year one of my goals is balance. I must admit though I’ve already invested in two trips for the year, on to the mountains and another next month to Puerto Rico. I don’t know if I attribute it to not being balance, or just wanting to live. I’ve tightened up my budget to make room for travel.

    • Tonya

      Yay another Tonya with an o! People spell my name with an a all the time. Your trips sound great. What mountains? I know I need to slow down and pace myself with my spending…especially on trips. It doesn’t all have to happen at once!

      • Tonya Rapley

        I know, I just don’t understand the whole Tonya with an “a” thing lol. I’m going to the Poconos which isn’t far from NYC. You are right, it doesn’t have to happen all at once. I guess a key component of balance is pace :)

  • brokeGIRLrich

    Ugh, being too busy always destroys my best laid money plans too. I’ve been moving at warp speed for the last 6 weeks and I’ve definitely noticed a correlation with that and how much I eat out or just grab some take out on the way home.

    Also, for the occasional sleep issues, I love DreamWater – I think it works great, I don’t wake up groggy and I don’t feel any sort of long term dependence on it.

    • Tonya

      Hope you do feel some balance sometime soon! I gotta get my eating under control. I go in such waves of cooking great healthy meals to just…well not. :) Dreamwater huh? I’ll look into it!

  • DC @ Young Adult Money

    I’ve definitely been busy or imbalanced to the point where it leads to more spending. It usually happens when I’m working too much and don’t want to cook or don’t have time to work on something. For example, I could have spent a day tiling our downstairs basement bathroom, but I paid someone else to do it because I’m just too busy. Then again, if you are busy because you are working I think you can justify some of those expenditures (like ordering take-out).

    • Tonya

      Yeah hopefully this is just a short term thing. I’m sure once work slows down I’ll be begging for something. lol!

  • Matt @ momanddadmoney

    Feeling too busy doesn’t usually lead to a lot more spending for me, but it definitely leads to imbalance. I procrastinate on things that are important but not urgent, I don’t sleep enough, I don’t eat as well as I should, I drink too much coffee, don’t exercise enough, etc. They’re all short-term decisions that have negative long-term effects.

    One thing I actually started doing today is rather than write a generic list of to-dos, write down three things in the morning I want to focus on: one for my blog, one for my profession, and one for my personal life. For me it’s really making sure I get the personal life one in there that will help keep things balanced.

    • Tonya

      That’s a great idea! Glad it works well for you!

  • cashRebel

    When I start to feel imbalanced I tend to focus on the one aspect of my life. Sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s running, but all other concerns go out the window for a few days and I end up spending a lot on pointless stuff just so I wont have to think about it.

    But the trip to Austin sounds like an awesome one!

    • Tonya

      Yeah it’s hard to juggle so many things. I’m trying. This week feels more sane at least.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    We spent a bit too much when our kitty died in November, but as you’ve experienced too, sometimes ya just gotta, and that’s okay. Seems to me like having your house cleaned and getting that massage were purchases well worth having. Way to take care of yourself, my friend!

    • Tonya

      Thanks Laurie! I’ll try!

  • Holly Johnson

    Our life is totally imbalanced right now because we’re working on our new home and trying to get it ready to move into. This weekend we ate Qdoba 3 times!

    • Tonya

      Oh man yeah, moving sucks! Breathe!

  • C Douglas

    Please enjoy Austin. That city is dripping with awesome sauce. I live in North Texas and attempt to arrange 2-3 trips each year to the capital. Fantastic food, culture, music and fun are guaranteed. That may be a permanent home for me one day.

    • Tonya

      Everyone seems to rave about it. I’m worried about the heat though. The weather is so perfect where I’m at. I’m wondering if the slightly lower cost in rent will be made by incredibly high electric bills running the A/C.

  • This Life On Purpose

    We definitely spend a little more when we are super busy, since you don’t have time to cook every meal or deal with little things. So you end up just saying: I don’t have time for this! I’ll just pay, it’s not worth my time!
    But you also don’t have time to go on random shopping sprees, so maybe it evens out :)

    • Tonya

      That’s true. I still have the same boring clothes. :)

  • Christine@TheChickvestor

    I have been there too. It’s a challenge to keep balanced and not to exceed my capacity for productivity. Sometimes I forget that I am allowed to say no!

    • Tonya

      I did that a couple times today. It’s nice. :)

  • alwayshungry4

    I’ve done that a few times (pick up convenience foods), as well as prone to stress eat – at least chicken and rice is healthier than like In n Out, though, yes? :) Hope you get some better sleep soon! :/

    • Tonya

      Healthier, but more expensive!

  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup

    I tend to be the opposite with my spending. When I get swamped, I just become a machine. I don’t spend, I don’t sleep, and I eat very little. It is not good, so I try to stay away from that point.

    • Tonya

      We all have our strange ways we deal! Hope you don’t get to that point anytime soon!

  • Student Debt Survivor

    Hope you’re feeling better and sleeping better! I slept like shit last week because I’ve been so sick. Made a visit to urgent care for the MD to tell me that he can’t find anything wrong except for a possible infection he can’t locate (great). I’m feeling better now, but I’m still feeling really off-balanced myself (also buying food, not cooking it, spending too much etc.). Here’s to a healthy 2014 for both of us!

  • Kathleen O’Malley

    xoxo — the freelance life sounds so glamorous! :)

  • Caitie

    It’s such a balancing act! I’m definitely aware that working more = less time = spending more on some things = the same or less money in the long run! Conscious spending is a big goal for me this year.

  • Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses

    Imbalance was basically the first half of 2013 for me. I was so busy I could hardly find the time to relax or enjoy the moment. Don’t worry, it’ll get better! :)

  • jefferson @seedebtrun

    I run into this problem frequently. Imbalance can often be the thing that sets me back from meeting my goals in finances, fitness, and life and general.

  • Kayla Johnson

    No, I can’t say that I have!

  • AmandaSakovitz

    Thank you so much for the great giveaway!

  • Thomas Murphy

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • The Phroogal Jason

    Love giveaways so entered!