Personal finance is a journey. Each of us makes wrong turns along the way. Nobody’s perfect. We all have weaknesses — one of mine happens to be technology. Yesterday I succumbed to a long-term urge: I bought a video iPod.

I had been resisting this impulse for months. I don’t need a new iPod — my old iPod mini works fine (though its battery life is rather weak). But when my wife said she wanted to take an iPod on her trip to Colorado, something clicked inside, and I went to buy a new one. I spent the afternoon loading it with music and video for her.

Purchasing this iPod won’t hurt me financially. I can certainly afford it. But it detracts from my long-term goals. The $250 I spent on it is $250 I won’t be able to put into my IRA this year. It’s $250 that won’t be used to pay down my home equity loan. It’s $250 that won’t be saved to remodel the kitchen.

I feel guilty for buying this. I used to make purchases like this all of the time, but on credit when I couldn’t afford it. Part of me remembers that, and so I feel bad for having made this decision. I understand that being frugal doesn’t mean that I have to deprive myself, but an impulse purchase like this feels a little too indulgent.

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