Rationalization Is All Around You
Each year at the beginning of December, me and my hubby set out our weekend schedules to make sure that we watch all of our important holiday movies before Christmas. This isn’t always an easy task since I typically fall asleep by 8pm on Fridays, but even if we have to move our schedules around, we make sure that the important ones of never missed.
In case you are wondering, the movies on our “must see” holiday list include National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Love Actually, Elf, A Christmas Story, Charlie Brown Christmas, and Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Nothing gets us in the mood for the holidays like this group of movies.
Inspired by my favorite Christmas movie
This past weekend we watched my favorite holiday movie and one of my all-time favorite movies, Love Actually. For those of you who have never seen this classic, the movie is broken up into 10 segments sharing the loves and heartbreaks of various people in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Every time I watch this movie, I try to figure out whose storyline is my favorite and whose breaks my heart the most. While I always determine that Jamie and Aurelia represent my favorite couple, I have to say that a close second to me in recent years is the story of Billy Mack and Joe.
Billy Mack, played brilliantly by Bill Nighy is a washed up aging rock star who is convinced by his manager to perform a Christmas remake of the song Love is All Around by the Troggs entitled Christmas Is All Around; and the opening scene with Billy trying to get the song right never ceases to crack me up.
This year as I listened to the song play over again, I thought a lot about some recent client meetings I’ve had and wanted to perform my own remake where instead of Christmas I inserted the word “Rationalization.”
Rationalization actually is all around
I think many of us struggle with our spending because we have the problem of over-rationalization when it comes to our spending choices. Most of us know that we should break up our spending categories into “needs, wants and wastes;” however if we rationalize purchases as needs when they are really wants or wastes, it’s easy to see our spending get out of control, especially around the holidays.
Yes, we all want to provide our families with a special holiday; however, gifts and holiday spending fall into the wants and wastes category. Most of us don’t need what we receive on Christmas and I hate to see money wasted out of a rationalization that we need to spend during the holidays.
Two answers instead of rationalization
Beyond Christmastime, though, rationalization continues to be all around us and I have the perfect rule of thumb for how you can combat this problem. If you are going to spend money, stop yourself and ask why you are doing it. This is the point where you can rationalize anything; however, I suggest that there are really only two answers.
Answer Number One: It’s Life or Death
If you need to spend money to save your life or the life of a loved one, then you should absolutely spend the money and deal with the ramifications afterward. I’m supportive of living a frugal and mindful lifestyle, but that should never come at the expense of your health or someone you love.
Answer Number Two: You Planned for It
One of the biggest things I get my clients to do is create plans for the quarter or for a full year and this includes spending in big and small areas. If you have a plan for your money for the year or any period of time, then it’s easy to stay focused on whether or not you should spend it. If you’re about to make a spending decision and it isn’t part of your plan or it takes you further away from achieving your plan, then you can’t rationalize doing it.
I know this is easier said than done, but it’s really that basic. I started framing my spending choices within these two answers and it really made a big difference in the choices that I made. If you don’t have a framework for your spending, then rationalization will take over and that’s where you’ll get into trouble. This year avoid the rationalizations and make sure your spending falls into one of these answers.