Peanut Butter Ball Inflation

With all the numbers we ran last week in the formulations of our new plans, I was reminded just how long is really left in our journey. I’m impatient by nature and would like to retire yesterday! As I made a batch of peanut butter balls, I realized the journey is worth it. The recipe for peanut butter balls comes from my great aunt, Joanie, who always knew that delicious candy could make the world a better place. These tiny bits of heaven are simple to make, but take quite a bit of time. After the peanut butter center is mixed, it has to be rolled into balls and chilled before dipping each one in chocolate. As I carefully rolled and dipped a batch recently, I started thinking about all the parallels to personal finance (geek alert!):

  1. Momentum is Hard to Stop – As you roll peanut butter balls, it’s easy to start small. Very quickly, however, peanut butter gets stuck to your hands and the spheres quickly start gaining in size. This is the good kind of inflation! Who doesn’t want more? This is a true principle of saving as well. It’s easy to start small. Save $20/week. Increase your contributions at work by $250/month. That’s how we started. But pretty soon, you want more! Saving a little didn’t make enough impact. I wanted to see my accounts grow! We recently threw caution to the wind and upped all of Mr. T’s contributions at work to the $1500/month that will equate to a maxed out 401k each year! It has only been two paychecks so far, but we did it! Saving is based on momentum, but so is spending. Throw your weight and momentum towards savings!
  2. Sometimes You Have to Start Fresh – As your hands get covered in peanut butter, it gets harder and harder to make nice, smooth, round candies. Sometimes you have to just wash your hands and get a fresh start. This is true for your financial plan as well. It is healthy to step back and recalculate every year or so. You don’t lose the progress you’ve made, but it’s helpful to stop what you’re doing and assess how things are going before moving forward.
  3. Everyone is Different – Dipping the candies in a bowl of chocolate is best tackled with two spoons. Drop the ball in the chocolate, roll it around, and use the two spoons to pick it back up and remove extra chocolate. Mr. T and I usually make these together because they are so time consuming and labor intensive. Mr. T’s candies are uniform in size and shape, have just the right amount of chocolate on the outside, and are topped off with a perfect swirl of chocolate that make them look professional. His are the ones we give away. Mine are the bulky ones with the hardened puddle of chocolate stuck to the side of them. All of the ingredients are the same. The taste is just as satisfying, but I can’t make a peanut butter ball like Mr. T can. Put two people in the exact same financial scenario and everyone will be different. Isn’t it great that personal finance is personal? But because it’s personal, no one can tell you what to do. You have to be the one that makes the hard choices because you know yourself best.
  4. Sometimes You Need Time – These candies require a lot of waiting. You mix the peanut butter and then you chill it. You roll it into balls and then you chill it. You dip them in chocolate and then you chill them. If you try to do everything all together without the waiting, you end up with a messy swirl of gooey peanut butter and chocolate. Still good, but not as. I get frustrated with saving. I want to see all the dollar signs add up right away. The problem is, the power of compound interest takes time. We just have to do our part and then wait.
  5. Treats are Good – I love peanut butter balls. And it’s always an event when we make them. They are delicious and we all enjoy them. But we don’t make them weekly. We save the treat for special events. It is good to reward yourself. Going out to eat is fun. Buying that thing is a celebration. But if you do those things too often, they no longer become treats. Instead, they become habits that are hard to break and threatening to your finances. In short, those things could turn into stressors. Make a financial goal. When you hit that goal, celebrate with a small treat, but save those treats for goals achieved and special events in your family. Keep them special and exciting.
  6. Giving Feels Great – One batch of peanut butter balls makes a ton! If we ate all of them ourselves, we would regret it. We like to package them up at Christmas time and bring them to other events throughout the year. Joanie knew that sharing candy brings joy to everyone. And because of that, everyone loved Joanie. Giving joy feels good. Giving candy, time, and money all feel good. We should all do a little more giving.

If you want to make a batch to share of our family-favorite recipe, here it is!

Joanie’s Peanut Butter Balls:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup softened real butter
  • 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Big bag of chocolate chips (Costco’s Kirkland Signature chocolate chips taste the best, in my opinion)

Directions:

  • Mix peanut butter, softened butter, and powdered sugar with a mixer. Chill the bowl for 30 minutes.
  • Roll into bite-sized balls onto cookie sheets. Chill 60+ minutes.
  • Melt chocolate chips in microwave – start with about 3-4 cups of chocolate chips. Be sure to stop the microwave and stir every 30 seconds or the chocolate will burn.
  • Only take out one tray of balls at a time for dipping. Use two big spoons to roll the ball in chocolate and drop onto a cookie sheet or tray covered with wax paper. If the balls start to get too soft, let them chill for a bit before dipping more.
  • Chill the covered balls until hardened.
  • Eat, share, and freeze some! – This recipe should make about 6 dozen peanut butter balls.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links which, at no cost to you, helps support Northern Expenditure and keeps our heat on in the winter. Thanks!

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28 Comments

  1. Kim from Philadelphia

    All great advice; plus I love the correlation to anything involving peanut butter!!

  2. Okay first of all, now all I can think about is delicious baked goods. And second of all, this analogy is perfect.

  3. We make something similar, just minus the butter and with a higher ratio of PB to powdered sugar, and it doesn’t require as much chilling time. You know, since you’re impatient like I am. 🙂 Lots of good analogies here! And gosh I wish we could all speed up time and get to our goals faster, but obviously we’d miss out on some hugely good stuff then, too. The funny thing is: since we started getting serious about FIRE, I really do think time has slowed down. Last year was the longest year of my life. This year already feels long and it’s not even April. So maybe saving for early retirement is a secret strategy to stop the years from speeding up! Not sure how that relates to PB balls, but there you go. 😉

    • MaggieBanks

      Time DOES feel longer, doesn’t it? Interesting observation. That kind of makes me more impatient. Come on! Mr. T is much better at enjoying the present. Maybe he’ll rub off on me one of these days!

      • I’m the worst about the impatience. I think I might just have to write a post along the lines of, “Want the years to stop feeling shorter and shorter? Start saving for FIRE!” 🙂

  4. Tawcan

    Sounds yummy, will try to make it one of these days. We’ve been making these ourselves. First time we made it we made them into balls but bars work too.

    http://www.threemorebites.com/spice-bars/

  5. Haha this is awesome! And i haven’t made these in yeeears!

  6. Here in Ohio, we call those “buckeyes.” 🙂

    This post made me excited about saving again. I was lagging behind, and kind of wallowing in that after-debt area where I don’t have momentum to save, but I don’t really want to spend it either. I’ve got to get motivated. Starting small might get the peanut butter ball rolling again.

    • MaggieBanks

      I’ve heard of buckeyes – sounds tricky not covering the whole thing in chocolate, though! Don’t those usually show some PB – hence the name? I’m glad I could get you excited about saving again! That’s excellent news. It seems I need that motivation every single week!

      • We learned about buckeyes when we lived in Ohio. So delicious! To leave some peanut butter exposed, I think we used a toothpick or something similar to dip the ball in the chocolate.

        Great analogy, BTW!

        • MaggieBanks

          I wonder if buckeyes would freeze as well as these – I assumed the full chocolate coating acted as freezer-burn protection! But it does sound a lot easier to dip by stabbing and dipping rather than rolling with two spoons.

  7. I find myself wanting to skip the start over part, even when I know everything’s gotten too sticky and I’m really just making a mess. I forget that a short pause and a quick regroup is just as much of the process as the rolling.

    • MaggieBanks

      Excellent thoughts. I agree. I am stubborn and try to plow through with sticky, mucky hands as long as possible. But realize that the rolling goes so much faster after I wash my hands!

  8. Thanks for the recipe. I love how it connects!

  9. J

    I love this post! Who would’ve thought we can learn a lot about personal finance from peanut butter balls?! I am an impatient person too but you’re right, patience is a huge part of the journey and it pays off big time in the end. I hope you’re doing well! I’m catching up on posts today as we went away last week. This was a great kickoff to my blog reading binge. 🙂

  10. “Personal finance is personal.” That’s actually exactly what I needed to hear at this exact moment. Thank you. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the share, Maggie! I love how fun this article is. I’m always seeing metaphors in my day-to-day life. A great way of describing what we’re all working toward!

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