I made a big money mistake. And I’m blaming Japan

Cherry blossom in Japan

Urgh. I’ve been avoiding writing this post.

So much so, I haven’t written anything on this blog for weeks. Sorry for disappearing for a while.

Here’s what’s happened:

More than a year ago, I publicly committed to paying off all my debts by June, 2017.

Yup, the June 2017 we’re currently screaming towards the end of.

So I’ve been scrimping and saving for months – slaving over internet surveys to earn pennies and taking packed lunches to work to save a few pounds. Man, it’s been dull.

At the beginning of this month I had just £500 to go. I was already planning the triumphant blog post and the glass of something fizzy to celebrate the end of a 16-year battle with the credit cards, unsecured loans and overdrafts.

Then I disappointed myself by somehow slipping back into the old habits which got me into this mess in the first place.

In an attempt to incentivise myself to become debt-free, I’d been focusing on everything I would treat myself to, once I was shot of those hefty repayments.

Travel is my weakness, so top of the list was a dream holiday to Japan during its famous cherry blossom season next spring.

I bought a guide book. I watched TV travel shows. I even started learning hiragana– the first of three (yes, three) seemingly never-ending alphabets used in the Japanese language.

But I ended up getting completely carried away with my bouts of far-eastern dreaming, before discovering that the very specific type of accommodation I was hoping to stay in was already getting booked up for next spring, left, right and centre.

I’d creak open my laptop each morning to discover another place from my shortlist, gone.

Then, I watched a travel documentary which described hotel rooms and holiday rentals during the cherry blossom season as being ‘like gold dust’.

In a panic, I booked a place to stay and shoved the cost on a credit card.

And of course, in the process, I dealt a massive blow to my grand debt repayment plan.

So whether I can still get to debt-free by the end of the month, I really don’t know, but I’m running out of days and it doesn’t look good.

More importantly, it’s made me reflect on why I took leave of my senses and made such a seemingly stupid money decision, after years of reading finance blogs and inspirational stories about beating debt.

I fell straight into the traps I’d fallen into so many times before over the years. Traps laid by the tricks our minds play on us.

‘I deserve this.’

‘I should live a little.’

‘Ooh, shiny fun thing!’

‘If I don’t buy this now, it might not be there later.’

‘This is a good deal, because reasons.’

I’m trying to make the best of the situation I’m in now. As you can imagine, my money-saving has gone into overdrive and I’ll see where I am in a week’s time. You never know, I might yet pull this out of the bag.

But, boy, I’ve still got a lot to learn.

13 thoughts on “I made a big money mistake. And I’m blaming Japan

  1. SunnieTX says:

    It took strength of character to own up about potentially not reaching your goal, rather than glossing over and writing about another topic. Don’t let it steal the joy of your dream trip, but rather learn from it. We are often too harsh on ourselves and what fun is life with no room for dreams? Perhaps you have learned you can reduce spending quite well if your budget allows flexibility for your travel! Enjoy your trip and keep up the great progress

    1. kddomingue says:

      What SunnieTX said. Life is a learning experience and we sometimes don’t learn without a few missteps here and there, right? Enjoy your dream trip, tighten your belt some more once you’re home again!

    2. Kind of you to say. And you’re right, we need to learn from our mistakes not beat ourselves up about them…should really have learnt from them by now, but oh well! I think for many people, getting to ‘debt free’ can often result in a few hiccups as they adjust to a new way of handling their spending decisions, so I’ll chalk it up to experience!!

  2. Christine says:

    I agree not to be too hard on yourself. You’re setting a new pattern for yourself where this is an exception rather than something you do regularly. You’ll remember this next time you are in a similar situation and it will help you do things differently next time.

    Also, it’s off topic, but last month I bought a house. I’m excited and wanted to tell you folks.

  3. Yes, it’s really ok to blame Japan! Haha I was rather disciplined with money, for ten years I never been in credit card debt and guess what happens when I took a short trip to Tokyo? I bought things I wouldn’t buy! On the other hand, they craft excellence things so it’s hard not to spend more.

  4. ann says:

    Hey, what’s another month or two when you’ve got a lifetime of being debt free ahead of you. Enjoy your trip, you do deserve it.

  5. Hendel says:

    Perhaps living is more important than striving.
    Moderation in all things.
    Goals are supposed to help us, not enslave.
    I am glad you are going…memories are priceless.
    ❤️

    1. Couldn’t agree more about goals not being meant to enslave us. Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists spent some time trying to live without any goals at all and I can really see the attraction of that.

  6. LM says:

    Don’t beat yourself up too badly. We are going to make mistakes. It’s how we recover that makes the difference!!!! You are being honest with yourself and that’s important!! Go girl!!

  7. Please don’t be too hard on yourself. I think this really is something that you can learn from. I find that these kind of learning situations are rarely cheap! It sounds like the trip was on your bucket list. I wonder if being so close to your goal had something to do with your decision? I hope you have a wonderful time!

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