Overcoming Weaknesses by Identifying Them (AKA “Fast Food is Ruining My Life!”)
So, as I’ve had a job at McDonald’s for about a month or two, which has meant that I’ve had some semblance of my own personally earned money (something I haven’t had in 3 years!), I’ve been trying to figure out how to wisely spend it and save it. And identifying weaknesses when it comes to spending is a good thing, right?
My newly identified weaknesses: compulsive food purchasing, particularly fast food.
Ever since I was a kid, our family getting food at a restaurant was always a treat. Whether it was ordering Pizza Hut, picking up McDonald’s, or the occasional KFC run… it was a luxury that we didn’t use super regularly. PARTICULARLY because it’s so expensive to feed a family of 10.
Then I traveled with New Life, and we ate out ALL THE TIME. Fast food was the default for all of our drive days (unless we packed a lunch, but c’mon, how often did we remember to do that?) and we would get pretty regularly treated to casual/nice restaurants by generous host homes or pastors.
Most everyone in New Life got quickly sick of McDonald’s, and many leaders tried to make that a last resort for stops. However, I never found myself getting sick of their food. Or any restaurant, for that matter. I will say: I am not much of a fan of White Castle/Crystal Burger. Not necessarily because their food is bad, but because the guys on my team who liked it got a little nuts about ordering A BAJILLION CHEAP BURGERS, and instead of giving us the option to order sides or add cheese, were all like “40 burgers for the whole team!” and made us each eat, like, 8. Hehe. I think I’m a little biased against it because of that. 🙂 But with the option to make my own choice, I would willingly try their food again. But I’m BAMbling.
All that to say, even now after eating fast food for 2 years and now working at McDonald’s for a few months, I still find that eating out is a treat.
And though that’s not always bad, the PROBLEM is, now I have money to spend. And a car to drive. And I work right in a restaurant that sells happily colored Shamrock shakes and refreshing caramel frappes and delicious buffalo ranch McChickens! (Man, those things are good!) And I get half my food off because I’m an employee. 😀
But it’s not just working at McDonald’s that tempts me. It’s more like, when I’m home I get bored or decide I’m hungry and we don’t have much in the house, and I’m all like “I should go get a Subway because I love them!” or “I should pick up some cheapo Taco Bell!” or “Hey, I need to eat some KFC chicken that I haven’t eaten in forever!” or “Man, I need a milkshake!” Suddenly any lack of food or spontaneous craving creates an irresistible impulse to go and buy something.
It’s not like I can’t live without it. I like to cook at home, and I do like lots of healthy food, and I’m usually pretty cheap with what I buy. But…
-When I get a minimum wage check every two weeks
-And am saving up for a 2 week vacation that’s a month away
-And have a few personal loans to pay off
-And a phone bill
-And am saving up for a car
-And an eventual apartment
-And trying to get my own two feet on the ground…
I need to be able to follow a strict budget. And I’ve tried to kind of give myself a vague limit for each 2 weeks of one paycheck. But being too vague about it means that I’ll often go over my limit. I’ve noticed a pattern of always wanting to go out and get something, just because I CAN even though I certainly don’t NEED it. Particularly when I’m bored or moody, even though it won’t actually make me feel better but will instead make me feel guilty yet again for not showing restraint.
So I’ve started admitting that it’s a weakness for me that I need to change.
For one thing, eating fast food all the time is CLEARLY not a healthy choice! I don’t have any major moral problems with any of these companies, but everyone knows that fast food is NOT the healthiest stuff around.
For another thing, that stuff adds up! Fast food may be cheap, but a lot of cheap stuff is still, well, a LOT. And it’s almost always something that I don’t need.
Now, I’m not going to tell myself I can NEVER eat fast food again.
-Some days I just haven’t packed a lunch and I can get 2 burgers and water for only a dollar on my break; and that’s ok.
-Sometimes I’ve had a really long, tiring day and I just want to sip a shake on my way home; and that’s ok.
-Sometimes I haven’t spent anything in a long time and so I go get a foot long at Subway and make it last 2 meals; and that’s ok
-Sometimes I want to treat some of my siblings to drinks and fries because I can; and that’s ok.
The point is, I’ve discovered something in my spending that I could quickly let get out of hand. But I DISCOVERED it! So now I can make sure it doesn’t! 😀
PLAN OF ACTION
1. I need to set aside a certain amount of money that I can spend each 2 weeks (a small amount). If there is a whole week that goes by that I don’t use any of it, the next week I can buy something bigger or treat a family member to something. Or spend it on something that I need. Voila!
2. I also think that I need to be more careful about what money I take to work with me. If I say before I go to work “I don’t need anything today”, I can still walk out with a shamrock shake if I’m feeling cravey enough. So, since I already leave my purse at home anytime I’m driven to work, I think it would be financially and healthily wise to take precautions by leaving my cash and cards at home on a regular basis and only taking my allotted amount of money. (Or nothing.) This will make it so that I don’t spend more than I should spur of the moment. Voila!
3. I need to keep planning out my lunches so that I’m prepared and don’t have to buy an emergency lunch. Packing food also gives me the options to make healthier choices, like including fruit and eating leftover homemade suppers. Voila!
4. Lastly, when those cravings come upon me, I need to remember that food, as with any substance that we go to in our moment of desire, is not going to make me feel any better in the long run. It won’t bring me closer to God, it won’t fill any voids inside of me, it won’t erase my insecurities, it won’t alter my happiness. It won’t make me or break me to show restraint and learn to go without. I don’t want my cravings to be master over me, so instead I’m going to master them. With wisdom and God nudging me along, it’ll happen. Eventually. 🙂 Voila!