For most of my life, riding my bicycle has been a pleasure activity rather than commuting. As such, whenever I’ve spent money on my bicycle, it’s come out of discretionary, entertainment money. When I started riding my bicycle to work after my accident, I continued the trend of buying parts with “fun” money.
Here’s the rub, hitting the road before dawn to ride an hour to get my highly physical job and then having to repeat the process 8-10 hours later… this isn’t what I would traditionally consider “fun.” It took me several weeks and a flat tire (luckily only about 200 yards from home) to realize this. I’m commuting on my bicycle, so why shouldn’t I be spending money that would normally go towards car care. After all, spending in that category has been cut in half recently!
So I redefined my spending and pulled out a different debit card to buy a new tube at the bike shop.
In a sense, this relates to my discussion of wants vs needs a few weeks ago. Spending on my bike had previously been a want and I was treating it as such even though it was now a serious need!
When I redefined my spending, I noticed two things. The first was that I was much less hesitant to spend the money that I needed to spend. Do you feel guilty buying gas for your commute? Probably not, but you might for having to refill after taking a long drive through the country one weekend. It’s the same gasoline, but one is necessary and the other was for entertainment. As someone who can be extremely cheap, I often find myself NOT buying things that I should if I can’t justify the expense.
A great example is my front derailleur. It’s been half-broken for over a year. But it worked enough that I didn’t want to spend money on a replacement. But now that I can think of it as a commuting expense, I’ll probably get it fixed this weekend and be able to shift more fluidly and not have it shift itself back into the middle gear when I’m not paying attention. My commuting time will probably decrease.
The second thing I noticed was that I now had more money in my secondary account! This is a big deal for me because excess money in that account can go towards paying down debt. Extra money in the joint account probably would get spent on earnings. 😉
Have you ever redefined spending from one budget category to another?