“Just this once” is a dangerous phrase to think or say to yourself. Often it serves as an excuse to do something you know you shouldn’t.
Carl Richards, author of The One-Page Financial Plan, uses Memorial Day sales as an example:
For instance, we’ll celebrate Memorial Day in the United States two weeks from today. This three-day weekend marks the first, official holiday of summer, and the first big sale of the season. Retailers promise that “these deals won’t last for long.” As a result, people will tell themselves they can’t “afford” to miss this offer.
In theory, we could plan in advance and save the money to buy a new barbecue or deck furniture that weekend. But for a good chunk of people, they wander into the store, telling themselves they aren’t really there to buy anything. They just want to look around. They manage to stick with this goal … until they see something they want.
Then, they say to themselves, “Just this once…,” only this time probably isn’t the first time. It also won’t be the last time they buy something based on an excuse.
The “just this once” excuse doesn’t only apply to breaking our budgets. It applies to our health, our work, and every other area of our lives. And we have to realise when “just this once” becomes a habit, rather than a one-time thing.
So the next time you catch yourself thinking “just this once,” be wary.