I used to smoke. I wasn’t a heavy, heavy smoker, but I went through a halfpack of cigarettes a day- easy. I started smoking at about age 17 (in a classic case of peer pressure) and by the time I finally quit for good 11 years later, I had tried to stop smoking, more or less successfully, several times.
What finally tipped the scales for me, and turned all my attempts into successfully stopping, was getting pregnant with my first son. As soon as I suspected I was pregnant I stopped smoking cold turkey, no questions asked. In fact, it was quite easy.
What isn’t always easy however, is continuing not smoking. It took me quite a few years to make the transition from feeling like an ex-smoker to feeling like a non- smoker. It’s not as easy as it seems, and it took much longer than I would have thought. For a long time I craved the morning cigarette, then the after-dinner smoke, the last craving to go was with a glass of red wine. And I couldn’t allow myself ‘just the one’ from time to time either- before I managed to give it up for once and all, each time I relapsed into smoking by smoking ‘just one’.
Becoming frugal is a lot like quitting smoking. Both are learned behaviors that replace pleasurable activities that well… aren’t that good for you. Shopping is a lot of fun, but it can reak havoc on your wallet. Learning to stop spending, for me at least, was a lot like learning to stop smoking.
I had to replace my kneejerk reflexes with new, healthier behavior. No more trips to Ikea or H&M ‘just because’ or wandering over to Amazon.com to see what was on sale. No more thinking over a problem with a cup of coffee and a smoke.
And it’s hard work! I finally feel like I’ve conquered the smoking battle, but only very recently. I’m still working on the not-spending problem, and at times I feel quite down and discouraged about my lack of progress in meeting my longterm goals. If only there were a no-spending patch!
And you? What battle would you compare learning to be frugal to?