Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Budget for the Life You Want

Budgets have a bad rap. They aren’t all about denying oneself or cutting back on everything. Budgets are there to ensure that you have money set aside to do the things you love.

My budget is based on my “if I had a million dollars in savings” life. I’ve found that this is the best way to determine what I really want, because it removes my perceived restrictions due to limited funds. So, if I were financially secure/wealthy, I would travel often, go to the spa at least once a week, and eat the finest foods. There’s more to it, but those are biggies right now.

So, our household budget allows us to spend more on food than most families, even though we are only two people. We save like crazy for travel, to ensure that we can afford a trip to the other side of the world at the drop of a hat and weekend trips to Tahoe. We get a massage and chiropractic adjustment every week for our personal well-being.

Since we don’t have a million dollars sitting around, we make huge adjustments to make these things fit into our current budget.

Food budget: We don’t eat out much and when we do, we make it count. Whether it’s a food truck or a four-star restaurant, we go intentionally and within our budget. If we want caviar, we buy it at the store and enjoy it at home, rather than at a fancy restaurant. And we do our best to buy organic, but not always because it’s expensive. We shop at Costco and Trader Joe’s instead of Whole Foods or specialty shops.

Travel budget: We travel no-stars cheap. We travel by local bus, sleep in the cheapest of the cheap, and eat from street stalls. That being said, I love it because the experiences are rich and everything is an adventure. I chose longer no-frills travel often, over traveling less often, for shorter periods of time, but in-style.

Personal well-being budget: We get a weekly Chinese foot massage for $16 per hour and a weekly chiropractic adjustment at The Joint for $12.25 (with their four per month package). That’s only $28.25 a week in full body care per person. Is it a day at a four-star spa? No, but it’s better than nothing. It’s also better than one four-star massage every two months.

That being said, cutting back in other parts of our lives is also necessary to afford the things that we truly want. But we cut back or completely cut the things that don’t contribute to our long-term happiness (that’s a whole other blog). 

When we don’t have a budget, we end up spending more on the things we need, that don’t bring us joy, then we feel deprived, so we spend more on instant gratification purchases that are fleeting at best, and then we feel depressed when we have to go into debt to pay for the things that we truly want to do. 

Ignoring your money won’t make more appear, it won’t make you think about it less, it’ll just make you spend more and feel worse. When you know exactly where your money is going, you can consciously spend less on things that you don’t want to spend money on and spend more on the things that bring you happiness.  

Want more tips to get what you want? Check out my other blog “Getting the Life You Want.”

-Leah Schonlank

Finance Gym offers personal finance coaching in professionally facilitated peer-advisory groups. 
We teach. We inspire. We support. We help people change their lives by improving their finances.

No comments:

Post a Comment