Cheat Days (But Like, For Money)
This post was originally published on Mixed Up Money.
Every single day, someone on my Instagram is posting about their crazy cheat day in which they consumed a family sized bag of Sour Patch Kids and half a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked (No, not Half Banked. Everyone relax).
I mean, their idea of a cheat day is cute, don’t get me wrong, but like, I eat that and more without using an excuse for my love of carbs and sugar.
However, I will say that whoever invented “cheat days” was basically a modern-day Aristotle.
*pauses for crowd boo-ing*
They knew that if they only ate healthy and didn’t allow themselves some kind of day to bathe in ranch dressing that they would regret it. Or likely fail at eating healthy altogether.
Much about the fitness world does not bode well in comparison to financial well-being. Most of the time they want you to spend tons of money on a gym membership, workout gear, protein powder, and a trainer. It can end up being a costly hobby.
I mean, I’ve mentioned many times my distaste for people who go overbudget on something that they can afford to do at a lower cost. You can workout at home, you can wear basic clothes, and you can find exercises on the internet.
But I’m also an advocate for physical health if you can afford it and are wanting to achieve a certain goal.
Just, don’t go buying expensive fabric to sweat in, okay?
Back to my point.
Cheat days make a lot of sense. I’ve read a lot of articles and blogs lately that state how much they disagree with “no spend weeks” and money diets that restrict people from spending.
After all, it is going from one extreme to another. The lesson doesn’t exactly make its point if you are unable to control yourself in a happy medium. I get that.
But with a cheat day from your healthy diet and fitness regimen, you allow yourself to enjoy the cravings you desire, without completely cutting yourself off. Which is v. important.
So, could we have a cheat day for our money?
Immediately half of you start to imagine all the cool things you could buy that you’ve been avoiding for months, and the other half start to have panic attacks because you’ve trained yourself to be financially savvy and avoid situations such as this.
I understand both of you.
It sounds totally ridiculous. A cheat day where you can buy anything you want and where you don’t restrict yourself out of fear.
However, it also sounds very plausible.
Obviously, unlike fitness gurus, I do not have scientific measurements to back up how beneficial this could be for your mental health.
But here are some of the reasons I like the idea:
- Anyone who embraces a cheat day does not do so with complete disregard for consequences. In fact, most of those who do participate know that they will need to make up for these decisions later.
- You don’t do it very often. Sure, everyone jokes about how “oh, today must be cheat day” to justify their XL pepperoni pizza, but actual trainers who partake only do this around once a month.
- You can set limitations. Having a cheat day doesn’t mean you’re going to ingest 10,000 calories or spend $10,000. It simply means that you can finally do something that you’ve been craving.
- They don’t cheat if they’re naturally prone to weight gain. Meaning, if you are naturally prone to overspend, then this exercise (pun intended) wouldn’t be best for you.
Thus, I give you the ultimate spreadsheet idea (kind of like my comfy couch account). If you are willing to give the “Money Cheat Day” a go, don’t be afraid to do your research first.
You can plan for your cheat day, just as you plan for emergencies that haven’t happened. You can open a savings account that’s just for “days you need to shop for yourself” and go nuts when the time comes.
I mean, 90% of those who read this blog love personal finance, which means they seriously love calculations.
Not everything associated with your money has to be restricting, boring, and hard. Sometimes you’re allowed to make things easier on yourself.
Although I don’t recommend participating in a money cheat day if you’re currently repaying debt, just completed debt repayment, or are on a tight budget, one day it might be something you need.