"Budgeting is a lot like dieting: the more guilt you feel, the less likely you are to stick with it," -Grant Sabatier
we are sometimes unkind to ourselves in an attempt to reach our goals
At first, I found creating and sticking with a budget difficult because it required discipline (which is difficult to develop). I constantly told myself, "I will start tomorrow" or "I do not need a budget."Then when I finally started the budget, my self-worth was tied to how well I was able to stick with the budget.
My conversations with myself followed a cycle that oscillated between self-hatred and self-praise. However, as the discipline was not quite there, the conversation was biased towards the self-hatred side.
There was always some negative emotion attached to my inability to keep up the momentum. Avoiding budgeting altogether seemed to be the best solution mentally.
this causes regression, so usually, we have to start with introspection
In studying psychology, spirituality, and understanding the integral approach, I became aware that the issue I was experiencing was how I framed the problem mentally. Understanding that wealth is a mindset, I had to find a way to approach budgeting that did not leave me emotionally drained.
We all have a completely different internal dialogue or money persona, so my approach may not work for you, and that is okay. I find that you may be able to apply the framework of my system to improve your mindset around budgeting. If you want to explore beyond my article, look into gamification.
understand how to foster intrinsic motivation
Intrinsic motivation is an important skill to learn when growing into adulthood. Yet we never really learn how to talk to ourselves to spark motivation. In my original view of budgeting, I would use words that could be seen as “restrictive,” “negative,” or “fun stoppers.”
I was denying myself the simple luxuries of life because I was on a strict regiment that prohibited me from having any fun. However, you can accomplish the same goal using words with a positive connotation.
the way you frame the problem is often the problem
The way I was taught budgeting made everything zero-sum. I either won the day, or I lost the day. Making each purchase crucial to determine how I feel about my financial realm. This created an artificial mental pressure that I designed.
The restricting perspective made me see a world full of things that I can not buy. This may not be the exact situation for you, but most people have a story they hide behind to avoid confronting their finances. You may have some perspective that paints the entire picture in a specific way. Some may call that a "Limiting belief."
If you reframe the problem to focus on the positive
I eventually changed the game I was playing because clearly, the last one was setting me up for failure. I suggest trying different mental frameworks and simply reflecting on how it changes your satisfaction. It will help you to understand what may work best for you.
My new approach was simple, I grabbed two different highlighters and printed out last month's bank statement. I looked through it and highlighted all of my purchases that brought me joy.
finding a way to allocate money towards joy
I highlighted the times I spent my money, and I was glad that I did. Everyone has different things that may qualify as being joyful purchases. For you, that may be a Frappuccino from Starbucks, a sweatshirt you bought that you wear every day, or a Filet Mignon from your favorite steakhouse.
This is where the blanket budgeting definition leads folks astray. They are so focused on dollars spent instead of value received. If that dollar brought a smile to someone's face, it should be considered a dollar well spent.
what did I NEED to spend?
With a different color, I highlighted the things I needed to buy. I am talking groceries, hygiene products, lightbulbs, and a cell phone bill. The items that are non-negotiable for being alive in a first-world country.
Although we can not control these things, I like to focus on increasing perceived value and decreasing friction in these categories.
I ask myself questions like: Can I switch carriers to get cheaper coverage? Can I subscribe to a service that shops for me to make it more consistent? Should I invest in delivery services?
it naturally helped me reduce spending by avoiding purchases that do not improve my life
Now the last section of transactions are purchases that have not brought me joy and purchases that I do not need to stay alive. So what are these purchases?
Probably that t-shirt that you bought and haven't worn since you bought it. That speaker collects dust in your room that you never needed. That impulsive Instagram ad purchase that didn't even work.
If you were curious why these are so specific, these are real-life examples from my life. My framework is about finding ways to minimize the purchases that I do not need or do not bring me joy.
Budgeting to me is about using my money to maximize the amount of value I can bring into my own life. If every dollar is allocated to enhance my life while avoiding purchases that do not matter, naturally, without forcing it, less money will be spent.
All I have to do is ask myself one compound question when I am torn on if I should make a purchase, "Do I need this, or will this bring me joy?"
how can I improve my experience with money in my world?
Everything I have done with technology supports creating an environment within myself to encourage this method of thinking. Allowing myself to focus only on the things that I care about. I have designed my system to be frictionless and focused on creating joy/peace.
This is the system we will explore on Blog and YouTube Channel.