Decoupling Purchasing And Joy.

A while ago. David R. MacIver wrote a notebook post on separating impulse from action, specifically to curb impulse purchases. This popped into my head today, as, in a sense, I’m confronted with the inverse problem. Out of a fear for impulse purchases, I tend to not buy anything not immediately necessary, even more so things that are “merely” for enjoyment. (Astute readers of my past few entries will note that I have a rather… negative relationship with things purely done for enjoyment, and I’m struggling to fix it)

When my finances were simpler (read: I had a direct income and wasn’t married) I habitually kept a budget that tracked what I did spend money on. Around 50€ per month were set aside for “fun”, read: no-strings-attached impulse purchases. Eventually I ended up never spending it, “saving” for things that I ended up not buying for one reason or another.

I thought up a rather simple queue, a strict list with name and budget, that would ideally be read-only (enter once, remove only once bought, although we all know it would never work out this way). Coupled with this is a simple calculator that once per day would see if enough money was reserved for the first entry, and if so, push a task to OmniFocus (the organiser I use), then move on to the next item in the queue.

The idea is to completely de-couple acute desire from things I would want to have anyway eventually, while retaining the joy of expectation. I hope that it gives me a better attitude towards doing things for joy, and removes some of the intensely penny-pinching fears that linger.

I will try to implement a version of this in the next few days and post it, if anybody wants to try it out. I’m curious of the effects.

Update: I have written a tool for this, you can find it here