Budget – not a dirty word (when you put it in perspective).

Written by: leonora  |  Published on: October 11th, 2013  |  Category: Blog, Budget, Debt

I have a confession, I think about budgeting and money a lot. My husband would say too much. Being around people that run into financial problems (not necessarily because of poor budgeting) makes me be that much more focused on money. Running my own business, gets me to think about budgets and money. Running our household makes me think about budgeting. Did I mention that I think about money and budgeting? A lot.

Having a wedding didn’t help my “problem.” We just had a wedding, which in large part I planned. My husband did the obligatory meetings and listened as I complained (night after night about one thing or another), but in all honesty, he was too busy at work to think about and handle all (and I mean ALL) the things that go into planning a wedding. It would seem pretty obvious: spend money on things that matter to you, and save money on things that don’t. Great advice, but in practice you run into things that you should have, like lighting and chairs, even though I can tell you that lighting and chairs have never taken up a lot of real estate in my brain.

So yes, there are things in life that we know are a priority for us (healthy food, gym membership, taking a vacation every year…whatever it may be for you, getting your nails done weekly or seeing the playoffs live…), but there are also things we wouldn’t call our favorite, but things that we need whether we “want” them or not (car insurance). I guess this discussion is taking on a bit of a “white-people problems” tone, which I don’t mean for it to do, but my point is that while we can’t perfectly choose to spend money on only stuff that matters to us, there is still that gray area in the budget (the not fixed stuff), that encompasses a significant chunk of how the money is flowing out every month.

Let’s try to break this down:

1. Housing – does the location matter to you, or is having ample space more of a priority? Do you work from home or do you work long-hours and a commute would cut into your sleeping schedule or the time you get to spend with your family?
2. Food – if you go out to eat, is it for convenience, can you not cook at home? Is going out to eat how you get to keep in touch with friends, etc. so it’s less about the food and more about the social aspect of it. Can you change anything? Do you want to?
3. Car – how much do you use it? What does it say about you? Do you care what it says about you? What about maintenance costs? Do you live somewhere with viable alternatives?
4. Grooming (for the girls) – what do you get done? Are you getting your money’s worth? Have you considered alternatives or doing things yourself?
5. Clothing – do you wear everything you buy? Do you shop because you need something or just to entertain yourself? Has buying new things become a security blanket?
6. Entertainment – again, what are things you really enjoy doing? Do you really appreciate the movie going experience or is it something you do out of habit? Do you meet your friends at places you wouldn’t choose based on your priorities? Do you feel like you can suggest alternatives?

We can obviously go on and everyone’s list will look different, but the question is, are you spending money in a way that is aligned with what you care about and what matters to you? Is your budget getting you closer to where you would like to be in five years? Believe me when I say that I am not a materialistic person. I think of budgeting in a holistic way and with that I do think people would be happier with the money they have and their income/expenses every month, if the spending was more closely aligned with their core priorities/interests/values. It’s obviously (here it comes…) a journey, but I assure you that being conscious about your choices will allow you to make decisions you feel good about, rather than feeling deprived, or worse, feeling like you are on a budget.

What do you think? Are you as obsessed with budgeting as I am?

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