Sitting here at my computer, late on a Saturday night, I am thinking about one thing — frozen treats, whether ice cream or gelato or frozen yogurt. About fifteen hours ago, I told my wife that if we did nothing else today, we needed to go out for a frozen treat. If I had to survive on one thing, it would be ice cream. Specifically, it would be mocha chip ice cream but I am not really that picky. If it is cold and sweet, I’m game.
I never got my ice cream. I did take my wife and one of my son’s for ice cream, but I felt too guilty to join them in the indulgence. It was not the cost of the ice cream it was the calories and the fat. I knew I did not need them so, as difficult as it was for me, I returned to my car with low fat frozen yogurt for both wife and son but nothing for me.
Later on I was grocery shopping and I picked up a quart of low fat frozen yogurt. With coupons, I would have paid about $2 for the quart of cappuccino chip premium frozen yogurt that I so longed to bring home. That is certainly a good value and I even put the ice cream into my cart and moved to the next aisle, only to return to the frozen food aisle to return the ice cream to the shelf. Again calories and fat — even low fat — deterred me.
Whether one is watching one’s waistline or one’s budget, the experience is very similar. Real thought has to go into every decision. One must ask whether he is making the most of his calories or his funds. Spend too much money and there will not be enough for the necessaries that you have to purchase. Eat a lot of empty calories and the waist will expand. Dieting and cutting costs will leave you feeling unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and often unhappy, even when you do your best to tell yourself you are making the right decision and that it will pay off in the long run.
Whatever benefits you might enjoy in the long run, however, cannot really erase the self-imposed misery that comes from sacrificing instant gratification. That is the odd thing about trying to save money or calories, when you need to do it, you know that you are doing the right thing but that does not make the decision making any easier. When you want that ice cream, knowing that you are going without the calories does not really give you a warm fuzzy feeling. When you want a new toy, knowing that you are saving your money for a rainy day does not really satisfy your desire.
To be blunt, both dieting and frugal living can really suck. They require patience, and sacrifice and deferred satisfaction. At the same time, the best part of a diet is the rare treat that the dieter is allowed as a reward. The best part of leading a frugal lifestyle is having money on hand when you really do need it. It is all a matter of convincing yourself that you are making the right choice and having both the will to stick with it and the creativity to find other ways to satisfy your need for instant gratification.
How do you satisfy your immediate wants but still save for your future needs? What is easier for you, saving your money or foregoing calories?