Just about a year ago, my husband and I decided that we were going to finally get out of debt and build a budget plan. It took us about a year to pay off our credit cards, but now beyond our house payment, we are debt-free.
Worth it? Undoubtedly. Challenging? Yes. But more than anything what I’ve realized this past year is how much money and spending and lack of budget is tied to emotional need.
Some of us spend because we’re bored. Others, like me, spend to reward ourselves for some achievement that we feel was otherwise overlooked. Long day? I’m definitely one to want to eat out. Busy week? A pedi seems in order. But after looking through our expenses, I realized this plan was not only not working, it was creating one more mode of stress in my life (DEBT). Now that I’m aware of not only how I spend, but how over-spending actually makes me feel, I have a new approach to money.
Now, I go to the store and calculate my tally as I walk through each aisle. When I’m purchasing anything, I think to myself whether I love it, and whether its needed. This “need” exercise is one that is useful for anyone. If you have children, you understand that they WANT or LOVE everything. But NEED? That’s a different story. The same holds true for adults. We have a lot of WANTS. But we truly have very few needs.
What we NEED is love. We NEED honesty. We NEED compassion. We NEED a home. And we now NEED a budget.
I was reading one of my favorite writers the other day who said that she tried to ask herself—before she spoke—whether what she had to say was true, kind and necessary. As I’ve sat with that information the last week, I have found myself not only using this in how I speak to others, but I also think we can take this same approach to our spending habits…
Take for instance eating out. At the beginning of the week, I go to the store and hem and haw over produce and meat, choosing the best and most nutritious for my family. So why at the end of the week is this same produce (that I already paid for) “too much work?” If I’m truly honest, the food is in perfect shape. I’m just uninspired and my budget could easily go out the door along with my family as we head out to eat.
So instead of packing up the family to spend $100+ on a meal, why not get creative and try making something with what I have and WITH the family!?
Just tonight I felt the uninspired-ness coming on, and instead of letting it take over (and getting take-out), I chose to whip up my own BBQ sauce (which was delish, thanks Ree Drummond) and have a simple, yet, very summery meal. The reward? I felt good about using what I had on hand. And I felt even better knowing that I’ve saved those “eating out” dollars for something truly extraordinary. I was able to remain true to my commitments. I was kind to the Earth (and my pocket) by not being wasteful, and I chose the necessary path.
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