This holiday season I’ve reflected on many things that I am grateful for, and at first glance a significant amount seemed to be completely unrelated to money. However, when I look a little closer and peel back a layer of the onion that is my life, I see that being on a budget has impacted all areas by really putting a spotlight on what I value most and pushing all the other distractions into the shadows (where they belong).
When you are forced to prioritize your life because you’ve decided to purposefully live on a budget, you start to see things you didn’t see before, increase the magnitude with which you appreciate all that is around you, and learn a whole lot about personal growth. It’s inevitable. My budget has freed me from preoccupations with material items and the opinions of others, and now I have the energy and openness to be Super Duper Supremely GRATEFUL for the best things in life.
Muchas gracias, Budget. You deserve it.
1) Increased Quality Interactions Because I’m spending less money on things to use and events to go to, much more of my time is spent doing simple things to interact with others. When you only have each other (and sometimes one person’s cute little baby or lovable dog) to entertain you, your own personalities and best qualities have a chance to step up to the plate and make life fun.
2) Decreased Fear of Rejection By nature, I am not the world’s biggest fan of being told no or feeling like I’m inconveniencing others. It’s been a lifelong battle to put myself out there to face the possibility of rejection. A
not so wise college friend (who was referring to asking a car rental company to let a group of 23 year old spring breakers rent vans to reach their destination) once uttered a phrase that I replay in my mind to this day when I consider not asking for something I want
“What’s the worst they can do? Say no and laugh in your face?”
That actually is the worst they can do, and really—that’s not so bad. When you are on a budget people are constantly teasing you or reminding you that you can’t do something with them because you “have no money” (which is false, but whatever, people are good at hearing what they want to hear) and this helps thicken your skin and decrease your concern with what other people think of you. If asking for a better deal, decreased price, more product for the price that is being charged is received with a laugh in my face and the big N-O, I can handle it. And if it’s not–score!
3) I’m less wasteful I’m convinced that the footprint I’m leaving behind has become much shallower since I’ve been on a budget. I’ve developed a strong aversion to wasting anything—printing paper, food, gas, paper towels, electricity, water—you name it, I’m trying hard not to waste it. It’s helping my wallet, but it’s good for our planet too.
4) “Little Things” become “Big Things” You know the saying, “It’s important to enjoy the little things in life,” but I think that being on a budget has shifted my perspective because those little things carry more weight now. Why shouldn’t they? It’s mega important to say something kind to a person you care about (or a person you don’t), go out of your way to help someone (even if it is just taking out the trash), or simply appreciate a day filled with nice weather. The previously conceived “little things” now make a BIG, fat positive impact on my day
5) Control over “Big Life” Stuff Knowledge is power. Because I know where I stand monetarily each day, I no longer make monetary decisions that will put me in a position that takes away my own personal sense of control. I remember the feelings of complete helplessness I felt a few years ago when my car broke down and I was left with $600 for a down payment to replace it. I had no idea how to make a well-informed and responsible decision in that realm, and it scared me something real good. Never again my friends, never again.
6) Unique Travel Experiences Because money is an object, I travel differently now. Yes, I have missed out on many 5 star hotels, day trips to the spa, room service orders, fancy rental cars, and all inclusive resorts. Luckily I have gotten to stay in a $30 per night bungalow right on a white Costa Rican beach, spent my days hiking alongside waterfalls, eaten $5 local favorite meals, ridden the metro/bus solo, and spent my nights in the homes of residents in my travel destination and broadened my knowledge of their culture and lifestyle.
7) A Tangible Future Planning for the future is much simpler when I have an awareness of my capabilities. Knowing how much I can afford, the timeline for saving, when a big payment is looming, or when I can make a big life move/expense creates a vision for goals with a clear path. There are fewer questions of “if “and “when” because I know where I am right now, and what I need to do to get to get where I want to go.
8) Less Stress Before I get paid, I look at where I will be spending my money. For recurring payments, I plan for exact amounts and for special occasions I budget a reasonable estimate. I never have to worry about whether or not I will run out of money in order to pay for life’s expenses. Simply put: Because I plan how to spend my money, I don’t have to stress about spending too much money.
9) I’m Healthier Every dollar counts, but so does every hour of sleep and every piece of food you put into that beautiful machine otherwise known as your body. Because my “entertainment” money is a set number, unhealthy options like staying out late for drinks, ice cream shop stops, and convenient drive-thru foods take the backseat to healthier options that are more important to me. Now I save my money for opportunities to enjoy experiences or gifts with my friends and family whereas before I was more likely to indulge in several unhealthy solo spending adventures.
10) A Credible Excuse for Avoidance Sometimes people ask you to do things that you really do not want to do, and then you accept the invitations only to kick yourself in the tush later because you just wasted your time and money on something you don’t prioritize. Why do that? If I tell people, “Thanks for invitation but that activity is not within my budget”, it’s easier for them to accept my decline because they know that it’s not because of my feelings towards them, it’s because of my own beliefs and preferences when it comes to spending money.
To all my friends out there: It’s not you, it’s me my budget.
If the thought of living life on a budget and devising a plan for gaining control of your finances makes you choke on that turkey leg, check out our Getting Started page by clicking the link in the menu bar at the top of the page and be sure to check Sam’s latest post 7 Days to a Simple Debt Payoff Plan if being in debt has your overwhelmed.