Spending Queue: A Review

A while back, I wrote about my idea for a simple spending queue that I then went and implemented. You can find the current implementation that I use every day here, it’s a small terminal application we’ll look at closer in a bit, but first:

Review of the effect.

I honestly did not think that it would make much difference, but it absolutely does. It has made me happier, noticably so. It avoids serveral pitfalls that I have fallen into before:

This way, these small things are spaced out over time, and I get little irregularly sized nice things. They’re not grand luxuries (see list below), but the fact that it is explicitly a small splurge for me makes it better. That’s all there is to it.

The Mechanism.

You set aside a fixed amount of money per certain time interval (personally, mine is set to $50 per 30 days). Then you add some stuff that you want to have, but always feel a faint niggling of guilt for, something that it’s something you don’t strictly need and could do without. Then you wait. The status is displayed when you call sq status. Since that’s something I have to explicitly do, I have a block in my shell rc that calls this whenever a TTY is launching a new shell.

About halfways through, I implemented a feature that kept track of the things I bought with this method, so here’s about half of my list since I started keeping track of this in earnest:

 Name                        | Cost   | Purchased
 A4 Leuchtturm Notebook      | $27.50 |
 Hardspace Shipbreaker       | $25.00 |
 The Power Broker            | $18.99 |
 Peugeot Pepper Mill         | $35.50 |
 Pyrex Measuring Jugs        | $31.54 |
 Moka Induction Pot (4 cups) | $33.58 |
 Cake Stand                  | $12.90 |
 Parker Jotter               | $5.73  |
 Scalpel                     | $9.99  |
 Wuesthof Vegetable Knife    | $79.00 | Sun, 26 Dec 2021 17:07:41 +0100
 Visa's FAN                  | $10.00 | Sun, 26 Dec 2021 17:14:31 +0100

Note: Another bug ate the purchase dates, but between the rate ($50/mo) and the amounts listed, you can figure out the spacing.

Once the accumulated balance ticks over the pricepoint for the next item, sq will display that you can buy the next thing. sq buy opens the purchasing page you saved when entering the item, lets you buy the thing, then asks if the price still matched. The item is bought as marked, and the process begins anew.

The secondary effect.

The more notable bit of this experiement succeeding so resoundingly is that it has given me insight into two more things, namely: I can build things I can’t find already existing, and I have agency over these things, and how they intersect with my life.

Running a small experiment like this that directly tinkered with how I relate to life makes me feel more confident in my agency over how I interact with life. I consider this, the building of tools that shift your interaction with the world, a skill that I intend to hone, and get better at. Earlier today I had an insight with how many things are skills, even/especially if they are not commonly practiced. I think this falls exactly into this niche. Building things that tinker with your interaction with the world is an extremely valuable skill that I don’t think is on many people’s minds – and I fully intend to become good at it.

I can only encourage you to do similar things: Your interaction with the world could be different, and you could make it easy enough to interact that way that it supersedes the default way with something that feels better.