Vonnie and I went to the end of the school year staff appreciation function for her new job. It was at a bar and grill and I figured it would be a great way to put faces with the names of people she’s been talking about for the last 6 weeks.
As Vonnie ordered a glass of wine, I stepped onto the outdoor patio to take a phone call. While I was on the phone, Vonnie and one of her co-workers walked by me making the “going for a smoke” sign with her thumb and index finger pressed together and bringing them to and from her lips (Vonnie doesn’t smoke, but her co-worker does).
When I hung up the phone, I became aware that our server was standing next to me.
“Could you give this to your wife? She ordered it, but she went into the smoking section, and I can’t deliver it to her there.”
Confused, I agreed and took the glass of wine. Looking around, I didn’t see Vonnie, and I appeared to be the only person on the outdoor patio. Knowing my wife and her coworker were around somewhere I went around a corner and ran across this scene.
Your eyes are not deceiving you. The designated smoking area on the outdoor patio (which is actually quite large) is a single table – OK, maybe half of the table on the left of the picture is included as well. I was laughing so hard, I had to put the glass on the ground for a moment to ensure I didn’t drop it. It took me a good minute to calm down enough to tell them what had happened. I stood on one side of the sign, and handed the glass of wine to Vonnie while she remained seated on the other side.
I don’t know if it was some kind of policy that prevented our server from delivering the drink, or sheer laziness. He could have easily given my wife her glass of wine, but that sign presented him with an obstacle that he chose not to overcome.
Don’t we all do that, though? We set out to achieve something, we can clearly see the goal, but we let an obstacle come between us success.
I know I have, especially with my finances.
I’m going to be completely honest with you – the financial problem I have is not an income problem. It’s a lack of discipline with spending problem. Being successful financially is totally achievable. I can envision financial freedom just as clearly as the server could see my wife sitting at the table waiting for her glass of wine.
But much like the server, just short of achieving my goal, there is an obstacle. It’s a combination of entitlement, and an inability to admit to my family, or even myself, that we have to place limits on our spending. It’s simply a lack of self-discipline.
Self-discipline is something that my wife and I lacked consistently for the first 13 years of marriage, and it still surfaces occasionally even today. There are still those times when I, my wife or kids see something, and budget be damned, we just buy it. It’s frustrating to have financial security to be so visibly within my grasp, but to let this obstacle continue to keep us from realizing it.
The ironic thing for me is that this post has been rolling around in my head for quite some time, then recently fellow TeamEOD blogger Brad wrote a post addressing this very subject. If I know that impulse spending is harmful to my budget, why do we continue to do it? I’ve read Brad’s article over and over again racking my brain trying to figure out the answer.
I haven’t found that answer yet. But I know that I have to keep searching, keep trying, keep getting better at keeping our spending under control until the day when I ignore that sign, deliver that glass of wine, and taste the sweetness of success.