Letting My Indulgences Get the Best of Me


My wife and I have finally moved into our new home. We have a lot of things to get done and the list just continues to get longer.  The home buying and selling journey has been long and a little crazy.  I am pretty sure Lowe’s and Home Depot might need to give us some stock options as we are giving them solid business.

Hell, I might just need to invest in their business. Either way, money is flying out of my wallet faster than I can put it in.  We have tried to do everything ourselves, but it is proving to be difficult.  This is especially true with one of us having to watch our son.  Try to do wall painting with your 18-month old running around. Nope!

I have been trying hard to save as much money as I can, but this moving process is kicking my budget in the butt.  I have blown up my monthly budget by about two-fold with an indulgence here and there and it just continues to get worse.  I am having a hard time controlling it.

Yes, you are probably saying “I thought you were good at budgeting Grayson!”  I thought I was as well, but I haven’t budgeted for a move before. The last time I moved, I didn’t even know how much money I had in my bank account.

Times have changed and I just didn’t research everything well enough.  This is what happens when you have to take over as the Realtor when yours doesn’t do their job correctly!  Needless to say, I have found my small purchases are really piling up. My indulgences are getting the best of me!

My Fast Food Fix (AKA My Guilty Indulgence)

John wrote an awesome post about his confessions of a former fast food employee. It was a good post and another reason why I haven’t eaten much fast food over the years.  Ever since we started cooking food at home, I just haven’t had the need for fast food. I still take my lunch to work and that has saved me thousands over the years.  I was doing really well until we started looking for a house.

Though I don’t eat much fast food, that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. There is a reason why fast food is popular.  It has sugar, salt, and carbs. Everything we Americans love.  The other thing is it is cheap and quick.  My weakness is definitely fries.  I just can’t get enough, but they are a costly indulgence.  I typically only get fast food once a month, if that.  It probably averages out to once every two months.  Well, not this past month!

In the past month, I have eaten fast food a record 23 times.  I know, I am already hanging my head in shame.  I feel bad about it in more ways than one.  The big issue is I didn’t even recognize that these small purchases were adding up to big money. This was until emailed me to say that I was being an overindulgent buffoon.  Thanks Mint! 😉

Small Purchases can Kill Your Budget

I typically track every penny, but when I am knee deep into DIY projects and making big payments to services, the small payments have slipped by.  Seven dollars here, five dollar there.  Why would you notice that when you are calling places to deal with $2,000 projects?  $5 is nothing in my book.  At least, not my budget book.

With my average fast food bill being around $7.50, I have spend $172.50 this month in just fast food.  That number just hurts to type.  I could have used this money to pay for some of my flooring or paint. I could have used it for new door hardware.  I could have used this money for anything else than just fast food.  I feel ashamed, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Since I employ the impulse purchase savings plan, I will be adding $172.50 into my Roth IRA.  This plan forces you to save as much as you spend on impulse purchases. I consider fast food an impulse for me, so savings, here we come!  This will help me get closer to retirement and max out my Roth this year.  Two birds, one stone.

The point of this post is to show that we all make mistakes.  Don’t let the small purchases slip by unaccounted for. They can certainly add up over time and really put a damper on your budget.  I know they have hurt mine, especially when I am already well over my original budget.

Take time to track your spending, with services such as or Personal Capital. Understand where you are heading and make corrective changes.  Also, why not start trying the impulse savings plan?  It is a great way to save and I know all of us could be better savers.


OK, what are your indulgences? Have they killed your budget? Do you have a minimum payment amount that you track in your budget? What indulgence seems to slip beneath the radar when it comes to tracking your expenses?


Image courtesy SteFou!

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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and Empowered Shopper. He also co-owns Sprout Wealth and Eyes on the Dollar. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial. He also is a freelance writer and blog manager.

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  • I hate moving and I can totally see how your budget could get blown, there are always extras that you just never think of.

    As for the small purchases – when my wife and I first got together we started tracking our expenses, and we found that almost 15-20% of our monthly spending was attributed to “little expenses”. It was the first thing we cut out when we started seriously saving.

    If you have any tips to painting with an 18 month old I would love to hear it. I have a hallway that needs doing and I have no idea how I am going to stop my little one from “helping” me.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Having 15-20% of your monthly expenses coming from little purchases is quite a lot. I know how you feel. I have been there before. I will get mine under control.

      Painting with an 18-month old is not easy. My wife or I have to watch him while the other one paints. We also paint after he goes to bed.

  • As tough as it is to see how much you’ve spent, I think it’s OK to realize we all go through these seasons of time where we spend more than we would like. That’s not to make excuses…just a reality that sometimes life circumstances catch up with us. You know it’s not who you are at the core, so it should be easy enough to get back on track once life calms down. Spoken from someone who enjoys the same affinity for fast food and is getting a solid fix of it now while on vacation. :)

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Yeah, I know it is OK to go through it, but I don’t like seeing the money flying out like this. I am working hard to reduce me urge to get fast food, but it has been so easy for this past month.

  • Grayson, we did the same thing right after we moved, although it was the frozen, processed junk that you need to cook in the oven. Although I’m sure it did hurt our budget, it hurt my waistline more. :-)

  • In college I would say fast food was definitely a budget killer for me. It was just so dang convenient! It does add up, though. Currently I would say money put into our home has blown up our budget in past months. It’s easy for small projects to cost hundreds of dollars.

  • I think it’s easy to underestimate how much moving costs. Then there are all sorts of things you don’t plan for- like curtains, repairs, extra paint, etc. All you can do is forgive yourself and move on! =)

  • Completely understand. In May my grandfather fell and broke his hip and shoulder. I was at the hospital with him every day for about 1.5 weeks straight. That led to a lot of fast food expenses because I was way too tired to cook and who wants to start cooking dinner between 9-11 pm. No thanks. But I knew that would be a temporary thing so it’s not something that I worried about. in the long run it’s nowhere near as important as family.

  • Average Joe says:

    Man, I’ve been there, brother!

    Did you see the piece about Jamie Oliver proving that McDonald’s burgers are only “beef” by a small fraction? That’s the part that gets me. I cut that stuff out (not on purpose….I started the Tim Ferriss 4 Hour Body and can’t have that kind of stuff) and immediately I felt better. In the end I’m less worried about the money spent and more worried about my health. My acid reflux is gone and I’m down 9 pounds. Bam!

    • Grayson Bell says:

      It surely doesn’t feel that great when you eat so much fast food. It is worse for me as I don’t eat it much anyway. We cook all of our meals and we eat relatively healthy meals. I will get through it soon.

  • I think its very easy to spend a little bit here and there when doing something like moving house or completing a house project. Those tins of paint and paintbrushes soon start adding up and its very easy to just hand over the cash not realising how much you have spent.

    At least you are tracking your expenses and can see where you are going wrong and admit to yourself that you are over indulging. Once you get settled, I’m sure your budget will get back on track.

  • Ahh, guilty indulgences! Personally, I really don’t have anything that I overspend on regularly if I don’t keep myself in check. I think my guilty indulgences are just random impulse buys. I’ve gotta stop with that. Ohhh and I bet it would be crazy hard to paint with an 18 month old running around the house.

  • So, for me it’s Starbucks. That is my guilty indulgence. What I’ve learned to do is make it a reward for me if I accomplish my particular goals every week. That way, it’s only once a week and only as a reward. It’s been working great so far!

  • Kim says:

    That made my arteries harden just a little bit reading 23 fast food meals in one month, but I totally understand why. Stress and lack of time=impulse buys. I love the impulse spend rule, and I think I’ll adopt that one. Good thing you don’t have to move very often! My worst little purchase is my daily fountain Diet Pepsi. I tried to quit, but just decided to add it to my personal spending allowance.

  • Lauren says:

    Our indulgences would be pizza and beer/wine. We budget for both, but some months we go over. Pizza is pretty hard to resist when you don’t feel like cooking or waiting to eat.

  • Fast food definitely had a hold on me for a few years and then I went on weight watchers and killed that desire, but every now and then we will go to get something for my son and I am always shocked at how big the bill is. For $15 I could make 5 or 6 meals at home, so I understand that it could blow up your budget easily. I now have a Starbucks indulgence, but I have it included as part of my budget which helps control the frequency of the indulgences.

  • Hang in there! I know the pain and you will get back on track. But might I suggest a budget method makeover? Namely, incorporating CASH into your spending (check out my most recent post). I too thought I was tracking and following a budget with and a Debit Card, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t truly following a budget…my budget was following me! I was simply spending and then checking to see if my purchases fit within my budget. But cash doesn’t lie and, unless you are noting every Debit/Credit Card purchase as it occurs, cash is the only method that gives you real-time feedback as to what remains in your budget. Don’t wait for to tell you that you are over spending, because by then it is too late.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I have done the cash diet before. It works well and I might have to put it into play until I get this fast food addiction taken care of. Mint never tells me how much I am spending as I already know that before hand. It does just give me pretty little graphs on how much of my budget has been taken up. I just love graphs!

  • E.M. says:

    We totally did this during our move. We finally finished moving into our apartment at midnight, returned the truck, and found that Wendy’s was literally the only thing open and we were all super hungry. Somehow we spent $25 for 4 people there. When we are busy and running around, fast food is sadly the answer (and I need to keep myself away from fries too!). I’m sure you’ll get back on track.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Yeah, Wendy’s can be expensive. All fast food has increased in price lately. Sometimes I think I need to just go to some other places and eat a better meal for the same price.

  • Amy says:

    I share your love for French fries, which are food perfection in my book! :) I’m pretty good about limiting my fast food/eating out expenses, but I can loose a little control at the grocery store. Yummy-looking produce and salty snacks get me…

    I think you should cut yourself some slack. Moving is always a source of unexpected expenses – from extra cleaning products, to new trash cans and food for hungry movers/helpers. You’ll be back on track soon.

  • I think moving is a little like childbirth. You don’t infrequently enough that you forget about the pain. It is so easy when life is crazy to fall into the fast food or carryout mindset. We are busy! And like you said, it doesn’t seem like much money at the time until you add it up. The good news this is the new Grayson who will put the $172 in his ROTH IRA and go back to paying attention to what he spends and eats. The old Grayson wouldn’t have cared. I would also say my biggest indulgences are time-savers too. Grabbing Starbucks instead of making coffee at home, lunch out, etc.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Haha, great analogy. Since I have never given birth to a child, I wouldn’t be able to compare. I was there when my son was born, but didn’t feel the pain. Yes, the old Grayson was a pain in my butt and the new Grayson is a saver!

  • Cat says:

    I’m right there with you. This is the first month we’re really budgeting since having the twins. We were a mess with getting fast food etc after they came!

  • 23 times?! What’s your new belt size?! :)

    I understand the desire but 23 times! Wowza!

  • Aldo @ MDN says:

    I don’t usually budget or track anything under $5 so sometimes my budget is out of wack. I love ice cream, frozen yogurt, and cakes… oh boy. I don’t eat them too often, but they go down every month. As a matter of fact, I might get some today now that I think about it.

  • Jason B says:

    Those fast fast food prices can definitely add up. I had been doing well limiting my fast food spending until I started working 2 jobs. Since I’m home less I have been eating out more. I have to get that under control asap.

  • Kassandra says:

    I can relate to the junk food increase due to our recent move. It took a few days to settle so we spent way more than usual on take-out and fast food. My stomach was initially thrilled and then less than thrilled afterwards since I’m used to preparing/eating home cooked food. June’s budget…completed eviscerated by the move!

  • Congratulations on moving into your new home Grayson! I can see how being busy and distracted could lead to slip ups in the impulse buying department, especially on fast food and it can really add up. Easy done! I really like your method of combating your impulse spending by saving the exact same amount in your Roth IRA. Great idea.

  • Jacob says:

    Dude, I hear you. My weakness is teriyaki. One month, I spent $600 on mall food….and that was when I had just started tracking my money. Needless to say, I cut that out REAL quick.

    We all fail, it’s all about getting back on the horse and moving forward. You got this brutha!

  • Michelle says:

    Once we moved into our apartment, we almost felt like we were entitled to eating out because we had worked so hard. Looking back, we spent so much money and I wish we would have just saved it. You live and you learn I guess.

  • I used to be a fast food junkie but I’ve seen been reformed. Especially when I moved out to Palo Alto I would run to Carl’s Jr or In-and-Out. I definitely spend a good amount. I think on average $8 and sometimes twice a day.

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