Everyone has their own lenses through which they view the world. Some people believe they’re stuck with whatever fate has bestowed them, others drift with the wind taking life as it comes, and some may think they have the power to impact change in their life. Regardless of your lens on the world, money has some sort of control over your life.
Money touches everything we do, whether we like it or not. Budgeting allows us to better reach for the things that are most important to us, but we must have a clear picture of what that is. Finding your “why” and what drives you, will be instrumental in encouraging your budget. Without knowing your “why”, it is difficult to keep motivated during the more difficult times.
definition of “budget” — an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.
Before my budgeting days, I remember checking my bank account and thinking about all the expenses I had until my next paycheck in hopes of having enough. I was young and lucky to have parents who were willing to work with me if I had a good enough reason for some assistance. With good intentions, they didn’t want me to worry too much about anything outside of my studies. However, looking back, I never really learned much about the consequences of spending and the benefits of investing until recently.
It takes everyone time to learn for themselves the importance of budgeting in their life. No kid wants to give their tuppence to the big greedy bank when they could use it to feed the birds. But I think this is the essence of what it means to budget — finding the balance between spending enough to live well now while saving enough to live well later.
There are many different mindsets that people utilize to help them visualize their budgets.
- Time can never be earned back.
In a money dominated world, time is often an afterthought. Unfortunately, time is something that always goes on and we can never get more of it. Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez does a great job of helping you reframe how you think about money. One of the steps involves breaking down how much time and money you actually spend towards your job and finding your true hourly wage. Robin also talks about how we are spending our life energy, and how that should be budgeted towards things we care most about. Time is something that once spent, can never be replenished.
Questions to think about:
What is something that you wish you could spend more time on?
What is something that you would do if you had extra time?
Are you generous with your time?
2. Being rich is not a goal.
Or at least it’s not a good goal if we’re being honest. Money is simply a tool that can be used to help us accomplish our goals, but it’s important to remember that it is not the only tool in our life’s shed. It can be easy for people to let the pursuit of money distract them from their real goals. Introspection is one of the most difficult things, because rarely do we take time to listen to ourselves. Journaling, goal-setting, vision casting, and other similar activities are great ways to figure out what means most to you. Plan to focus on those important things while you are working, and not just “if” you can when you are rich enough. And maybe you’ll realize you don’t even need money for your goals.
Questions to think about:
What are some ways that I can get better at listening to myself?
In what ways can I work towards my goals today?
Do I really need money to accomplish my goals?
3. Live within your means
Despite this being a pretty simple concept, it’s one of the most difficult things to follow. We live in an extremely materialistic culture that revolves around spending money. It is easy for us to get caught up in the desires of wanting more and succumbing to the constant bar add of advertising around us. Living within your means means having a lifestyle that you can afford while comfortably preparing for the future. Many people tend to allow themselves to falsely justify “needs” in order to maintain the level of comfort they want. A personal example of this for me would be having a car that can fit 6 people. I feel the “need” to be able to comfortably fit friends and family in my car if we all wanted to carpool somewhere together.
Other examples of these are having a certain size house, social nights dining out and drinking, purchasing an unlimited phone plan or cable television with added packages for your shows. Realistically it is difficult to give up some of these comforts, and everyone has their own level of what it means to them to live within their means. The two biggest culprits are housing and food. So if you can find housing for the recommended 1/3 of your income or less and learn how to cook healthy meals with bulk groceries, then you are probably living within your means.
Questions to think about:
- What are the biggest money drains in my life?
- What are some things I can do today to save more?
- Do I have a good balance of living for now while saving for my future?
I hope these were helpful perspectives to take away. There are plenty more money mindsets out there, and we would love to hear some from you. If you have another money concept that has helped you, please share it with us in the comments.
If you are looking for a tool to help you be more aware of your spending, head to https://budgets.money and sign up for a free 31 day trial of Budgets.