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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 has and will always be enthusiastically appreciated. Your ability to save my information and retrieved it on a whim is a true testament to your support.
I wanted to take this time to express my love and gratitude. You are undoubtedly my constant and favorite financial buddy.
Always yours, BuLL
We Started As Enemies
This love story did not start well. I took an excessively long time to start a budget and put it off for as long as I could. It wasn’t I was unemployed with zero income that I needed to reconcile with my shoddy personal finances.
Before this low point, I was not interested in spreadsheets, tracking expenses, or knowing where my money was going. This was not an ideal way to begin a relationship with personal finances.
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 without judgment. I would record what I spent in a specific category and move on. This was how I started exposure therapy and took the edge out of tracking my spending.
Developing this 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 amont 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 struggled with overspending.
Other habits I picked up was avoiding my favorite stores like Target and Michaels, my budget kryptonite. I also deleted bookmarks, erased credit card information, and put big purchases on hold for 24 hours, just to make spending that much more inconvenient. Shopping was a habit which meant I had to break away from this toxic relationship.
I replaced my relationship with free activities like reading, juggling, archery, running, or crafting birthday cards. It also helped when I developed a savings goal, so I had a reason to avoid shopping. That money wont save itself! I asked, it said, no.
A Decade of Dancing Together
After tangoing with my budget for over a decade, our most recent relationship goals have been to keep entries simplified and lean. Which equates to less spending and increasing my sinking funds.
I am an avid minimalist and have adapted my lifestyle to cultivating less: less physical, digital, and financial burdens. Then, I infuse this into my budget by limited entry. I only allow so many items before I am cut off. Basically, 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 entire paycheck being devoured by car insurance or Christmas gifts. 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, 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!
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 journey, 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, visiting South Africa, and exploring 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 why my budget and I will continue to have a deep, if I can help it, enduring relationship.