Beware of “Just”-ified Spending

Financial Freedom in 2021! Take Action: Day 12

One more post on resetting spending habits…

You didn’t sleep especially well last night, so you stop for a coffee on the way to work or to run errands. It’s just $5 and there’s no way you’ll make it through the morning without that extra shot of espresso.

You notice a sweater on sale while grabbing toilet paper and paper towels at Target. It’s just $15, but it’s so much cuter than the $40 one you bought a couple weeks ago.

The toddler is fussy and won’t stay seated in the cart, so you grab a toy phone off the shelf to keep him entertained. It’s just $8 but totally worth your sanity.

Your daughter did really well on a difficult math test. You decide to celebrate with a stop for ice cream after school. It’s just $12 for everyone to get a treat, but she knows how proud you are of her.

It’s been a really long day, so instead of making dinner, you decide to order a couple pizzas. It’s just $16 because there’s a special deal today, and it saves you from dishes later as well.

These “just”-ified purchases, which could easily occur on a typical busy day, led to $56 of unplanned spending! It adds up.

What does it take to waste $10,000 per year? Just $27. 40 per day in miscellaneous spending.

I’m not arguing whether all of the justifications given above make sense. I’m a mom. I get it. I’ve been in every one of those scenarios many times. It takes a lot of strength and resolve to just say “no”. It also requires preparedness.

My best defense against this type of spending is a good offense. I prepare coffee for myself to go before heading anywhere in the morning. I keep toys, books, and snacks in the car (and a few in my purse) in case kids need some distractions. I also keep a small stash of leftover Halloween candy on hand for those days that I want to reward my kids with a special treat for going above and beyond. Finally, having a few easy go-to meals at home diminishes the temptation to order pizza or grab take-out.

When the “just”-ified spending decreases, along with the random unplanned stops, it feels that much more special and rewarding when you decide to go out for dessert after a family hike or decide to spend the month’s clothing allowance on a rare Mom-daughter shopping afternoon.

Today’s action step is to set aside about $50 in cash. Over the next two weeks, every time you pass up on a random “just”-ified spending opportunity, put the amount of cash that you would have spent (or an IOU if you don’t keep cash on hand) in a jar at home. After the two weeks is up, take $10 to buy a favorite family treat from the grocery store, like a cake, a fruity pie, or ice cream sundae ingredients. Then, stash the other $40 away toward one of your priorities, and spend an evening celebrating how great you are at saving money!


  1. Great tips, Heather! Yes to coffee at home, or cheap from the gas station 😆. Also, I let my fussy kiddos ‘play’ with toys at stores but we leave them behind at the checkout. I also tend to make small cakes and freeze them for unexpected celebrations. Can’t wait to see your tips for tomorrow!!



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