Hello everybody, welcome to episode 54 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino.
Today we’ll be answering a lengthy question. We’ll be talking about a vast majority of things really — accountability, spending on a budget, making smart purchases. I’ve basted you all enough, though. Let’s just listen to the question and let the asker speak for herself…
QUESTION: “I have been on a fitness journey for a little while now. I find regular exercise that is very therapeutic for me for depression and mood swings. I started running a couple years ago and I’m looking to add cross training. I’ve tried various home workout programs and just never seem to stick with it as there’s no accountability, something I think I really need. There is a place here in town that offers 30-minute boot camp classes, a few of my friends go and really like it. I think it would be something I really like and most importantly, something I could stick with. My hesitation is the cost. I know the memberships are expensive and even though I can probably afford it, I have so much guilt about it. My husband and I are trying to pay off some debt and I always tell myself I can workout at home, even though I pretty much never do. Why do I feel so guilty spending money on something like this, even when I believe it would be beneficial? Should I get over it and go to the boot camp or save money and look for other ways to exercise?”
Okay, there we have it. Good question. Longer question. Just to recap for everyone: This woman is unsure of whether or not to spend money on a new fitness class which she thinks would be very beneficial to her both physically and emotionally. She also feels it would help hold her accountable with her exercise, but she and her husband are paying off debts so she feels guilty about making the purchase…
Sometimes when I listen to the episodes, I wonder if you guys remember the details of the longer questions as well as I do once I’m in the middle of giving my answer. My bet is you probably don’t, so I think I’ll start doing these little summaries when necessary.
Guilt Can Be a Good Sign
Anyway, let’s get down to business.
First of all, I just want to point out to you that guilt is a good sign. I was reading about this on Optimal Relationships Daily the other day; guilt is a sign of caring.
There's even a time when guilt SHOULD appear when it comes to money, like if you're going into debt or consistently falling short of your savings goals because you're not budgeting correctly.
Guilt shows that you want to be better. It shows you want to be mindful of your decisions and look out for the best interest of, in this case, you and your husband alike. So amidst all the negative self-talk that can easily come with feeling guilty, remember that it’s laced with good intentions; intentions which I can tell make you a thoughtful wife.
On that note, it should go without saying that your final question, “should I get over it and go to the boot camp or save money and look for other ways to exercise?”, is a conversation that you need to have with your husband more than a conversation that you need to have with me.
(Editor's Note: Guilt, fear, and shame are often associated with each other. If this sounds like you, check out our post from last year with tips on how to overcome a fear of money.)
Money Conversations in Relationships
We’ve all seen it countless times: money can kill relationships. You’re in a partnership for a reason, and money is important. You need to come to decisions like this together, especially if you’re in the process of paying off debts.
You two know your financial situation, I don’t. And I’m guessing few other people do, if any.
What I CAN help you with, however, is breaking down the purchase, your feelings towards spending money on the purchase, and the depression and mood swings you mentioned.
So let’s do that now.
Pros and Cons of a Purchase
First, the purchase itself. What are the pros and cons? It’s good for your health which is a pro. It allots you time with your friends — you said they like going there — which is a pro. It’s something you can probably afford which is most likely a pro, but listen to the rest of my answer before you ultimately decide on that.
It holds you accountable which is a pro. There are alternatives that cost less and could yield the same result which is a con, financially speaking. Maybe there are more pros and cons you can think of which I encourage you to do, but that’s how I break it done in a quick glance.
Of course, pros and cons go beyond however many of them there are — it’s important to think about the value attached to each one, as well.
But overall, it doesn’t seem like it’s a bad decision as long as your finances aren’t in completely terrible shape.
What’s probably more telling, though, are the feelings attached to this purchase.
Temptation to Spend Money
Obviously there’s some temptation to buy a spot in these classes. What’s really important for you to ask yourself is how the temptation to spend on these classes measures up to temptation you ordinarily have to spend on things.
Is it common for you to find things that tempt you into spending money on because you think they’re legitimately good for you, or does this one stand out? I imagine it stands out at least a little if you came to advice column for help, but what I’m getting at is that if this is a feeling you’ve had many times in the past, it may be part of the reason you’re paying off debts to begin with.
If, however, this type of desire to buy something is a rare occurrence and you’re normally a very responsible, conservative spender, it puts a whole different spin on things. That would make this a purchase that has extra meaning to it, a purchase that is rooted in self-care.
When we’re indebted, it’s easy to put so much emphasis on money, as it’s a value we’ve been held deficient in, that we even disregard spending money on purchases that are genuinely important for us. That’s the line to be aware of and the line not to cross. You said you’re pretty sure you can afford these classes, and surely it’s okay to buy some things for YOU, especially if there’s a little wiggle room. So the desires attached to your spending in the past will tell you a lot about just how important this purchase is for you.
If you’re having a hard time coming to this answer for yourself, ask your husband or others who have known you and your spending habits for a long time.
Building Accountability and the Right Habits
But here’s what it’s all coming down to: the way I see it, there are three issues at play here, and depending on which is the most aligned with your depression or fuels your depression or is a running theme within your depression, your next step could be a few different things.
If cost is the biggest issue, again, you and your husband come to that decision together. If, realistically, the cost is not so severe of a problem, and the issue is more in you being too afraid to spend money on self-care, then I would think that’s something you bring to the conversation with your husband and would make it more enticing for you to decide it’s in your best interest to make the purchase and join the class.
However, if the habits and accountability you mentioned is really the biggest underlying issue at play here, it sorta changes the discussion. Because the fact is, yes, there are ways to stay accountable by working out at home, and your general lack of not holding yourself accountable is never going to get better if you don’t start looking for ways to handle it by putting matters into your own hands.
We’ve talked about habit formation a lot on here, such as in the first Optimal Living Advice episode. Go through those episodes, learn about habits and how to generate accountability for yourself.
Now, a big part of building the right habits is having an environment that sorta takes the willpower away. We’ve talked about that a lot, and you attending that class definitely helps.
Some of you might be smelling some contradiction right now, but going to the class will help you stay fit and exercise. Trying to workout more from your home using new methods will help you to become more accountable long term. They’re both beneficial, they can be done at the same time, and it’s your call.
Okie doke, that’ll do it, everyone.
Really good question today that called for a lot of different conversation topics. It just goes to show how multi-faceted all of our struggles are, how many pieces can be involved, and frankly, why we should be open-minded in the face of our own problems and the problems of others.
So thank you for sending this question in, giving us all a lot to think about, and I hope we were able to help.
As you may know, anyone who wants to send in a question of their own is encouraged to do so. You can email us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll do our best to answer them and help you out. We’re always here for you guys. It’s as simple as that. Okay?
Delightful. Have a wonderful rest of the day, everyone. I look forward to chatting with you next time. Take care!