Small Expenses That Seem to Hurt

I’m a completely irrational human being.  I often find myself fretting/obsessing or just plain paying waaaay too much attention to small expenses and then freely throwing around a few hundred dollars on *want* items without a second thought.

A great example of this is my reaction when I opened a toll summary statement to see that my wife had driven in the express carpool lanes three times last month.  These are the lanes on the road that you have to pay a variable toll to drive in depending on how bad traffic is.  We’ve always done well staying out of those lanes but my wife had been driving a carload of kids back from a camp and just couldn’t stand the thought of sitting in traffic any longer than she had to.  Unfortunately the price of admission on that particular day was $10.00!!  Basically a frugal guy’s version of a dagger to the heart.  It KILLS me to spend money on things like that.  To add a tiny bit of a shove to the dagger, she apparently enjoyed that trip so much, she decided to use the lanes twice more last month, luckily at a cost of $.50 a trip.  I guess I have such a strong emotional reaction to a small charge like this because a) it’s not worth it to me and b) I see it as an unnecessary tax that we can easily avoid.  Yes, I know we could spend lots of time discussing what our time is worth (and believe me, my rate is much higher than the $10 toll), but regardless, it’s still something I hate paying.

Compare that to the ease at which I willingly hand over a couple hundred dollars for things like a new Stihl weedeater or a new electronic gadget and it does make me look like an idiot.  The phrase “penny wise and pound foolish” has entered my head a zillion times.  What I’ve had to try to do is step back and look at the big picture.  We’ve never really budgeted for “misc” type stuff each month, but in a sense, we are spending a few hundred dollars a month on just plain miscellaneous stuff.  As a percentage of our budget, it’s really not much and should probably be expected.  I think the most important aspect of this is that we are using cash, not accruing any debt and are meeting all of our other financial goals.  Regardless, it’s really tough sitting here with the dagger poking at my side.