But on our daily check-in as Mom was walking the dog and I was immersed in systematizing my spice rack, she offered, "Why don't you apply your OCD to saving money? Make it a challenge to see how much you can save!"
At first, I appreciatively responded with, "that's not how it works, Mom." But considering the fact that I'm living on a starving artist's salary these days, I paused to give her Momism moment a second thought. I've spent the past two years doing what I love, dispensing my creativity with everything that relates to writing from technological press releases to advertisements to beefed-up bios for friends in diverse professions to editorial features in So Cal's hottest magazine. I've recovered my voice and myself after a 7-year snooze. However, at the same time I am struggling to maintain the So Cal lifestyle this OCDite has sold her soul to achieve.
Because most OCDites strive to be surrounded by consistent items of comfort in order to cultivate control and order in our lives, I find that it is a much larger challenge for us to make financially necessary lifestyle changes than your average person. And I feel, that it's necessary to explain why some sacrifices can be paralyzing once we're used to having them.
For example, I recently had to part with my beloved 2009 Honda Hybrid, because it turned out to be a lemon - just my luck. I searched for a deal on that damn car for nearly 3 years! But, it was obvious that this car was defective, so I set out to purchase a new vehicle, surrounded by anxiety due to the entirely sudden situation. So although I should have sought a more suitable bargain car due to my decreased income, I could not avoid the plague of already having my mind set on a particularly perfect car. Purchasing anything less would have been a 5-year burden I was not willing to carry, so I "wheeled and dealed" and came home with my shiny, sporty new car. But in avoiding one weight I added another - I now have to figure out how to compensate for my slightly higher car payment. Mom's advice is ringing in my ears.
Now, I wouldn't say that challenging myself to live on a lower budget is necessarily OCD behavior; however, tracking, monitoring and calculating feed right into this disorder and in some cases, can be very useful.
I am and always have been acutely aware of my finances - tracking and logging each penny that I spend - thanks to my Dad. The money my brother and I earned from doing daily chores wasn't given to us to put in piggy banks. It was smartly whisked away into our very own checking accounts, which Dad also taught us to balance. I remember cherishing my first little leather log of minimal finances. Now I place every detail of my financial activity into efficient - and of course pretty - Excel spreadsheets. But back to the object obsession that occurs inside an OCDite's mind: I know I should consult with my categorized budget before purchasing an $800 anthology of beautiful leather bound books, but it would just look so stunning on my bookshelves!
So how does an OCDite take her organized tracking and turn it into saving since so often the obsessive compulsive urge is to obtain rather than to dispose? Start engrossing your urges in ways to save! Here are a few tips on how I took Mom's advice and practically applied it to my disorder:
- Recycle. If you live in Orange County, our waste management service sorts and does the recycling for us; however, why not make the extra effort, do it yourself, and make an additional $20 a month!
- Pay attention to coupons. Usually, I get my mail, and throw half of it away, because it's advertisements, but there really are usable coupons in there. You should also go to the websites of the stores you shop in, because they always promote more savings on the sites than they do in the stores.