THE BLOG
10/14/2014 03:44 pm ET Updated Dec 14, 2014

Daddy, I Want a Squirrel

Anyone out there a fan of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? I am! I know many diehard Willy Wonka fans were not happy with the remake, but I loved it! I love Johnny Depp, and I love the psychedelic twist he put on the main character.

I love all the characters, really, but the one that sticks out to me the most is Veruca Salt. You know her; the petulant little child that wants what she wants, when she wants it, and how she wants it. The girl who makes it known (in no uncertain terms to her daddy) that she did, indeed, want a squirrel.

I just wrote my first book, Your Best Year Yet! It's available now at Amazon.com (shameless plug). In the book, I break down the twelve most common New Year's resolutions, one for each month. Then, within that month, I give the reader a tip or action plan for that day to help them take control of that particular area of their life.

One month, February in particular, focuses on finances. What I realize about finances is that many people are in denial. They are also living for instant gratification.

Ah, instant gratification; the Veruca Salt of finances. I want what I want (that big screen TV) when I want it (now) and how I want it (on credit).

When I was younger, working part-time at a Pizza Hut during high school, finances were easy for me. If I had money, I'd buy something, if I didn't, I wouldn't. Easy peasy! But then, credit cards came into my life. No one had ever explained to me what credit was or how it worked, so I saw it as "instant money."

I wasn't stupid. I knew that I'd have to pay that money back. I saw credit as a kind of loan that would give you money to buy new shoes or a cute little outfit, until you made the money you needed to actually pay for it. It was like a type of layaway, except, I didn't understand the interest part.

As I got older and realized what credit was, how it worked, and how destructive it could be, I went back to the old-school system of, "If I have money I buy something, if I don't, I won't."

I'm not demonizing wanting things. There are lots of things I want. The cautionary tale here is to stop the Veruca Salt assault and stop buying things you can't afford!

We've all been told to have a credit card for emergencies, and I do. But an emergency is not buying the 15th Coach purse in your collection, or six new black dresses because, really, who can pick just one?

Emergencies are when your car dies, your hot water heater dies, or, your mom in Oklahoma gets sick and you have to fly back to care for her. These are true emergencies. An end-of-year sale at your favorite boutique is not an emergency, Veruca!

We've all heard that we should live within our means. Simply put, this is buying what you can afford to pay for. Period. There's no magic to it, no science; you don't need a financial guru to break down the numbers for you. Buy only what you can afford.

If you can afford a fancy vacation, big screen TV, or a designer purse, go for it! If you can't afford it, resist the urge. Don't give in to the instant gratification. Think beyond the moment and think of the long-term costs.

Remember, in the end, Veruca got a squirrel; it didn't end well for her.