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Dear Budget, you are my favorite. Without you, I would be financially lost and probably confused about where my money is going. Your beautifully lined, blank boxes keep my life consistent, focused, and succinct. You have waited patiently with an ever-present cursor for my every expense. Your lack of judgment in whichever category I overspend in, has and will always be enthusiastically appreciated. You have always saved my information and retrieved it without question. I wanted to take this time to express my love and gratitude to you. My constant financial buddy, my budget.
Yours Truly, BuLL
Grab the tissues, we are about to journey into an epic love story!
We Started as Enemies
This love story did not start well. It took an excessively long time to start a budget. I began it when I was unemployed with zero income. This financial blow demanded that I reconcile with the reality of my finances. Before that low point, I was not interested in spreadsheets, tracking my expenses, or knowing where my money was going. This is not an ideal way to begin a relationship. Little did I know that this relationship would last the testament of time.
I felt reluctant
with a dash of bitter at starting a budget, so I tried to ease myself into this financial endeavor by logging expenses with no judgment. I would record what I spent in that category and move on. This was how I started exposure therapy and took the edge out of personal finances. Creating a habit of entering expenses was a great way to start what would eventually become a joyful activity.
Time to Spice Things Up
Once I was bored with entering expenses and had a job, I took our relationship to the next level. This is when I started using my monthly pay to dictate what I spent and where. I would put my goal at the top of the spending category and see if I could achieve it.
This forced me to develop new skills. It began with no-spending weeks, then it advanced to no-spending months. Which is a handy skill to have when I struggle with overspending. Other habits I picked up was avoiding my favorite stores like Target and Michaels, the kryptonite of every modern woman. I also deleted bookmarks, erased credit card information, and put big purchases on hold for 24 hours or more, just to make spending that much more inconvenient. Shopping is a habit which means I had to break this expensive habit. Ugh, adulting. It can be the worst!
“Spending less, saving more, and investing the difference”– Max Out of Pocket
Many self-help experts recommend replacing a bad habit with another more desirable habit. I replaced my shopping habits with free activities like reading, juggling, archery, running, or crafting birthday cards. Like my friend Max from Max Out of Pocket suggests, I want to invest my savings in bigger and better things like an expedition to the Great Wall of China! That money wont save itself! I asked, it said, no.
A Decade of Dancing Together
After tangoing with my budget for over a decade, my most recent enhancements have been to keep my budget entries simplified and lean. Which equates to less spending and increasing my sinking funds. I am an avid minimalist, I have tried to adapt my lifestyle to cultivating less: less physical, digital, and financial burdens. I infuse this into my budget by limited entry. I only allow so many items before I am cut off. I am like a strict parent who doles out a measly allowance. Spend it wisely, child!
Another avenue I aggressively pursue is sinking funds because I do not enjoy the icky feeling of my paycheck being devoured by car insurance or Christmas gifts. Just. No. Instead, I have little-bite sized nuggets that go towards a high-interest savings account called Adulting Adventures. Then when I need large sums of money for a bill, I pull from that account. Problem solved and paycheck happiness restored!
All the Love
My budget and I are on a whole new level of commitment. We have been together for so many years! As sad as it sounds, I have been in a relationship with my budget longer than some of my friendships! Well, that was awkward…. As with anything that stands the testament of time, we have changed. I am more skilled and have better impulse control. My budget has slimmed down and is dictated by percentages more than desires.
As I move forward in my financial story, I have reflected on all the ways my budget has enhanced my life. It has helped me to prepare for life list expeditions like traveling to Paris for a honeymoon, visiting South Africa for a photo safari, and taking a helicopter tour of glaciers in Alaska. I can say without a doubt that without a budget I couldn’t have experienced those expeditions. My 9-5 salary is too lean. This mandates mindfulness for every transaction. Am I bitter about this? Not particularly, I love my career but I also happen to have an expensive life list. It’s my budget that has allowed me to achieve these experiences that I love. That alone is the primary reason that my budget and I will continue to have a deep, if I can help it, enduring relationship.
How is your relationship between you and your budget?