It can be one of your lowest moments as a parent when you hear the first off-color word innocently tumble out of your three-year-old’s mouth. And with the realization that it’s undeniably your fault — it can feel very dark indeed.
When I’m not in earshot of my kid, I consider myself able to hold my own in an F-bomb contest, but my husband usually just mocks my Midwestern style of thuggery, by pointing out I my worst potty mouth has all the impact of an, ‘Aw, shucks fellas!’ But regardless of how nonthreatening my bad words are, they still aren’t appropriate for tender ears, and I would never intentionally explain to my child, “it’s like saying truck, but using an ‘ef’ sound instead of a ‘te’.”
And yet, that’s not far from what happened. My family and I live in San Francisco with its famously beautiful views, steep hills, narrow streets, and impossible parking. I had my daughter in the car and we were late to meet my husband at his favorite no-reservations-allowed restaurant in North Beach, where the wait is often 2 hours long if you get there one minute past 5 o’clock on a weekday. We had been circling endlessly looking for a spot to park, when I pointed the car up the steepest hill in the city wondering if gravity may have deterred others from going in that direction. I saw a spot open up on the opposite side of the street and inelegantly attempted to turn mid-block to snag it. Unfortunately, because we are basically driving upward at a 90 degree angle my attempt to flip a quick U-ie turned into an 8-point turn blocking traffic in both directions. I had to use all my focus to steer my boulder of a car into a tiny spot while onlookers honked, barely hearing my daughter pelting me with questioning, ‘Mommy’s
“Just a minute Sweetie, I can’t talk right now, I’m driving” veins popping out of my forehead. “But mommy…”, “Just a minute, I’m… almost… there…” I eventually get my car backed uphill into the spot, thoroughly exasperated by a situation of my own doing. I took a deep breath, and turn to the back seat, “Okay, what did you want ask me?”
“Mommy, what does f**k-a-doodle mean?”
“Hmm… good question…”
Apparently without knowing it, I had allowed my subconscious to escape out of my mouth, and in a stressful situation gone deep Michigan, obliviously spouting ‘F**k-a-doodle!’ as I clawed my way through my own personal parking hell.
Has this ever happened to you?
I’m not talking specifically about shouting profanity in front of a toddler, but rather finding yourself caught in an accidental blunder that you can’t easily take back. How many of us have effectively shouted ‘F**k-a-doodle’ with our finances and done something thoughtless or reckless that we later regretted? I know I have. There was the four day trip I took overseas for a wedding that cost me $4000, or the 10 years I ate out for every single meal because I didn’t know how to cook, or the Ambient Stock Orb that I bought off eBay when I panicked because I needed something interesting for show-and-tell during grad school. I look back on these things and cringe when I think of all the money I shredded while distracted by something else. But do I beat myself up about it? Nah.
Instead I choose to learn from these failings, moving forward in life and money with a sharper perspective and heightened awareness.
In an attempt to not make the same money mistakes twice, I’ve made it a habit of doing these two simple things:
First, I ask myself if this purchase is going to take me closer or further from my goals. This quick mental exercise has saved me tens of thousands of dollars over the years. I started off asking it when I was considering big purchases, but now I ask it with everything I buy. It doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally buy something frivolous, but it has cut down on the inefficiency tremendously.
Second, I consider the opportunity cost. Instead of just buying blindly, I look at the price-tag and think about the next best thing I could direct my money towards. Personally, I get a high off of retirement savings, because it’s such a powerful way for normal people like us to build assets. So when I’m wondering if I should make a purchase, I’ll ask myself, “is it better to buy this, or let that money compound tax free for retirement?” That comparison quickly brings a potential purchase into focus, and it makes it much easier for me to redirect funds I may have otherwise let fall through my fingers.
It’s still possible for an impulse purchase to get through. But with these habits, I stop the majority of financial f**k-a-doodles from happening, and I can forgive myself for the occasional indiscretion.
There’s no better time to turn to turn your finances around than now. One of the most frequent questions I get is, where do I even start? To help answer that, I’ve created a concise video training called the Smartly Quick Start Money Plan. Check it out, and in 15 minutes, you’ll know exactly what to do!
If this post was helpful, if you still have questions, or if you have a f**k-a-doodle moment of your own you’d like to share, please post a comment below!