If ‘just this once’ happens every month, there’s a name for it: a monthly expense

One of the more infuriating challenges of personal money management goes as follows. Suppose your dishwasher breaks down. It makes sense to replace it with a good one, instead of something cheap that will need replacing again next year, so you buy a high‑end model, congratulating yourself on your wisdom. The following month, it’s your 10th wedding anniversary. You’re not the type to splurge on champagne-fuelled city breaks, but this is different, a once-in-a-lifetime event, so marking it properly seems right.

The month after that, you buy a pricey new work outfit, as an investment in yourself. The problem with all these “exceptions” isn’t that they’re unjustifiable – it’s that, if they crop up all the time, they aren’t really exceptions. Which is one reason it’s so hard to stick to a budget: there’s often a solid case for spending beyond your means just this once. But if “just this once” happens every month, there’s a name for that: it’s a monthly expense.

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Read More When is an exception not an exception? | Oliver Burkeman

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