How do you feel when you hear the word “budget”? Does it feel limiting and no fun? Do you want to tap into your inner child and say “budget, don’t tell me what to do!”…and then you defiantly visit Amazon.com and buy 3 CDs you didn’t need, just because you can? Do you think you can just kinda “wing it” instead of really looking at the numbers on paper? Maybe you don’t want to admit it, but perhaps it feels a little scary?
If you’re nodding “yes” to any of these descriptions, consider this quote I recently found:
“When I made the shift from seeing decreasing my expenses as deprivation to seeing it as keeping money for myself and taking great care of myself, everything changed.” ~Kate Northrop
When I read that quote, I thought: oh my goodness, she’s totally right! A budget isn’t supposed to be some sort of straight jacket, there to make your life unpleasant…it’s just the opposite! A budget will free you to live a fuller, more expansive life!
So what do you think about trying out this new tweak in attitude? Take it out for a spin and see how you like it!
A big part of this process is to think of the overall picture. What do you want your money to help you achieve? You work hard to earn this money, so make it work hard for you.
Consider your hopes and dreams. Budgeting is a way of funneling your money into things that matter to you – a way to make your hopes and dreams come true. For instance, you may want to save up for a beautiful new house, bringing a baby into the world, excellent educations for your kids, travel to lovely and relaxing destinations with your family, comfortable retirement, or whatever else you daydream about. Remember to work saving for these occasions into your budget. In this way, your money can help you live the life of your dreams.
Here’s a place to start: instead of thinking of a budget as this big, intimidating project, commit to keeping your receipts for one month. Either as you go along or at the end of the month, enter the amount of each receipt in the general category where it belongs in the resource I’ve created for you (request it using the form below). Then take a step back and evaluate what you see.
You may be surprised to find that you eat out a lot more often than you thought. For example, if you find that you’re spending $60 each week in eating out and you think you should only be spending $40, make $40 your spending goal for next week and see how you do. Or maybe you’re not spending enough in the “FUN!” category. Regardless of what you find, take note and tweak where necessary.
It make take a few tries, but I’ll bet you know what’s reasonable to expect that you spend in each category. Keep in mind that “reasonable” may end up between what you’re actually spending and what you’d ideally like to spend. For example, you may prefer to only spend $20 each week in gas, but the reality is your commute is really long, so it’s more realistic to expect to spend $40. That’s a bummer, but not the end of the world.
So, try tweaking your attitude about budgeting to focus on how it will help you live the life of your dreams. Good luck, have fun, and let me know how it goes in the comment section below.
Fun fact for today: Did you know that paper currency can be folded back & forth 4,000 before it wears out? (Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2011/02/01/10-Things-You-Probably-Dont-Know-About-Money.html?slide=6)