Our Largest Struggle with Money

As time passes, our relationship with money has a tendency to change. Back when I was a kid, I thought I could solve all my money troubles by buying a checkbook. As I grew up, I learned checkbooks are not linked to an infinite source of money and my journey to conquer money started all over again. So, here we are today and I want to share with you our largest struggle with money.

Our Largest Struggle with Money

Consistency. Persistence. Perseverance. Yes, those are three words describing the exact same thing BUT they also describe the struggle we are facing. No joke.

Our ability to save appears to directly correlate with our effort. Sure, we have some killer habits in place but sometimes even habits are knocked out of whack.

For a good while back in Q4 2016, I was grocery shopping and cooking a week’s worth of meals every single Sunday. The whole spectacle took 8 hours since 2 hours were spent picking up food.

Now, with our recent frugal Hawaii trip — plus family visits — our routine has been knocked way off.

I was stringing together not only weeks, but months of excellent behavior!

So, that’s down the drain. Where do we go from here?

My solution has been to focus on smaller time increments.

Rather than trying to ace my first full month (February) in Chicago this year, I’m focusing on stringing together as many successful individual days as possible.

If I fall off the wagon, then I try to hop back on immediately. This translates to me having a poor Friday at work where I spend too much on happy hour (my experience this past Friday). The bar tab happened, no denying that. Next order of business is to wake up early on a Saturday, shrug off the hangover, and get right back at it.

Yesterday’s problems shouldn’t impact today’s results.

And that’s all any of us can do: produce results. As we string together successful days, the smart habits of yesteryear become reinforced and our money journey shifts back into auto pilot.

Another way to look at this is summed up in one of my core beliefs:

If we spend 2,000 hours a year earning money, then it is smart to spend a few hours figuring out how to save, invest, and grow that money.

It just so happens that the results we produce in the DD household make us happier, healthier, and more optimistic of our future. I’m not sure if I can actually become MORE optimistic but I know my fiancée is slowly becoming happier at the prospect of reaching financial independence within the next 7 years.

What has been your largest struggle with money over the past year or so?


10 comments… add one
  • Cody @ Dollar Habits Feb 10, 2017, 4:40 am

    Thanks for the candid post, Matt. If only buying a checkbook was the answer. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a garbage collector when I grew up because they only work one day a week. 😉

    Habits are akin to riding a bike, once they are rooted and developed, you just have to get back on the bike. Great if it is a good habit and not so great if it is a bad habit. It’s kind of like taking a hiatus from working out, the first time getting back on the treadmill is always the hardest, but after that, you get right back in the groove.

    I like your tactic of breaking it down to daily goals as opposed to a monthly goal. It would be so easy to say “Ah, this month is shot, I’ll start again next month,” but with your method, every day is a fresh start and new beginning.

  • Eliz23 Feb 10, 2017, 7:45 am

    I like this method of day by day accountability. We have noticed that once the obsession with savings kicked in, it actually pains us to put our hands in our wallets. I have avoided the stores when we needed basics (who cant last a few days without milk!) and am personally pushing 3 months now without a haircut for fear of subtracting that money from our end game- 18 months of work-free travel! just as when we gave up alcohol, we have had to change our relationship with money in order to see it like it really is. Reality is most purchases are voluntary. I haven’t bought take out in about 6 months and cooking at home is fun and so much more rewarding!

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher Feb 10, 2017, 8:33 am

    Good idea! Sometimes you just need to take it one day at a time, especially after falling off the wagon.

    My biggest struggle with money is knowing when to spend and when to save. Some days I’m really hard on myself for buying food or buying something I actually needed at the store. These things are essential, but I still have a tough time parting ways with my hard-earned cash.

  • The Grounded Engineer Feb 10, 2017, 10:23 am

    For my family it has been the moving into a new house. We were fully aware of the expenses for buying and furnishing a new house. And we’ve been pretty frugal. But still, it is a lot of money and I think about the opportunity cost of investing that money. But in the same breathe, I look at what having this house means for my family. It means so much and I’m so excited about the opportunities to grow as a family in this house. The money spent is definitely worth it because we are still hitting our other savings goals we’ve set!

    Great post, Matt 🙂

  • FIscovery Feb 10, 2017, 4:46 pm

    everything in moderation – – i’ve learned that years ago – – if you eliminate or restrict yourself from a few guilty pleasures you are bound to fail, whatever that “pleasure” means to you – – dieting, exercise, moderation – money management, moderation – – any hard extreme comes at a cost (no pun intended). Now you can look to redefine the “pleasure”, possibly lower cost alternatives that more align with your FI goals, but never eliminate. IMHO.

  • Julie @ Millennial Boss Feb 10, 2017, 8:26 pm

    I do not want to go grocery shopping with you! Seriously, grocery shopping is probably one of my least favorite activities ever. If I spend more than 15 minutes in the grocery store, I freak out! Kudos to you though and maybe it’s a routine you’ll get back into. I’m with you on the travel messing up the budget. I have made it my New Years resolution to *not* travel the past 3 years for that reason and luckily it’s a new years resolution I’ve never kept. I usually get the travel bug around March/April.

  • Dividend Diplomats Feb 11, 2017, 5:43 pm

    Distilled –

    I agree. Need to drop what you did yesterday, focus on right now, as well as setting yourself up to succeed tomorrow. That’s just what you have to do, you can relent and think about the past, but you need to move forward and make today matter. There we go.


    • Distilled Dollar Feb 13, 2017, 11:54 am

      Much easier said than done of course, but that mentality has helped me an enormous amount in my life. Thanks for the comment!

  • Ryan @ Just Another Dollar Feb 14, 2017, 8:08 am

    Great advice on getting back on track! We’ve also faced our share of consistency issues over the last year. Our biggest money challenge is our goal to only eat out once every two weeks. This requires us to meal plan and grocery shop on the weekends and if we fail to prepare can send us spiraling into a week of takeout. The important thing is when we fall off the wagon, we need to be okay with it and move forward trying to do the least damage to the budget. By not looking at a one-time failure as a huge deal, we’re less likely to become discouraged and more likely to recover.

    Thanks for sharing your struggles as well as your success!


    • Distilled Dollar Feb 14, 2017, 6:30 pm

      That’s a great point!

      I hear ya on the meal planning and not eating out. That continually has been something we’re working on the past few months in particular. It is crazy to see how much money could be spent on eating out all the time. AND, after just a few basic tips/tricks, home cooking is often much tastier than restaurants! 🙂

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