Growing up I was always averse to the idea of cheesecake- nothing about the seemingly random combination of cheese and cake sounded appealing to me. So while others were drooling over dessert trays filled with cheesecake variations, I happily passed with no threat to my willpower or waistline. That is… until I tried cheesecake. Yummm.
On the one hand, I was grateful for the forced introduction to this delightful combination of creamy cheese and sweet crustiness, on the other, I was now facing a tougher uphill battle post-dinner- passing on the dessert tray without caving in.
It’s much easier to say no to unnecessary decadence when you don’t know what you’re missing – a lesson I’ve found applying to my finances with increasing frequency.
For example, the cost of an Equinox gym membership has always boggled my mind. I’ve been gym-free now for well over five years, enjoying my outdoor running and at home Pilates workouts free of charge. The idea of struggling to stretch my budget an extra $80/month just to do all that around other people is something I simply can’t justify. So when I heard that Equinox‘s monthly membership dues were a whopping $225/month, I figured I must’ve misheard. I can understand why some people might enjoy the gym environment, but not for that kind of money….
Then I went to Equinox. While I was on tour in Chicago, our company gave us complimentary access to the Equinox next door. I took a killer class that sculpted my booty in 45 minutes in a way that I have never seen my booty sculpted before (not even after 4 plus hours of running the marathon). At the end of the class I grabbed a towel- it was chilled and scented with eucalyptus- SOLD. Well, not really, I’d still never pay $225 a month for a gym membership, but I was sold on the luxury of it all.
The same thing happened during my first Dry Bar experience. When I first heard the concept, I struggled to understand how an entire business was could be built around $40 blow outs ($50 with tip)- no cuts, no color. Then I got a gift card, which led me to that ever so dangerous first taste. Turns out, I look pretty damn good with a $40 blow dry- shit.
Now while I may be money conscious and frugal, I’m not an extremist by any means. I love my little luxuries as much as anyone else. But these days, I’m admittedly having some trouble with moderation.
The more I discover new indulgences, be they cheesecake or eucalyptus scented towels – the more wants I have gnawing at me. That means more little luxuries to balance on an already limited splurge budget. It would almost have been easier to stay in the dark, cold turkey to begin with.
The Trouble With Moderation
Over the summer I read Clayton Christensen’s “How Will You Measure You Life?” essay in The Harvard Business Review and one point really stuck with me…
“It’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time.”
In other words, once you cross the line once, it’s easier to do it again… and again- with food, frugality, or anything else.
I know I’m all about balancing the broke and beautiful, implementing moderation to have it all, but I wonder if Mr. Christensen’s policy of 100% commitment to a principle or lifestyle- in my case, frugality- might be a better policy (at least in some instances) for avoiding the one off excuses and justifications that multiply with increased temptations.
Does experiencing new luxuries lead you to trouble with moderation? What do you think of the 100% vs. 98% policy?