Did you just start doing this budgeting thing? Do you feel super stressed out? Do you feel like you're never going to be able to have fun EVER again? Do you feel like all you can ever do now is save money?
...but then you think, "If I never spend money again then I'll go crazy, and I'll probably freak out and spend a ton of money on some frivolous because I deprived myself for too long!"
Sooo what are you supposed to do!?! How in the world are you supposed to balance spending + saving money?
I'm going to share with you my 3 simple tips for how to balance spending + saving...and how to not go crazy in the process.
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I think we all can relate to the struggle behind this balancing act. We want to save money because we're on this new budget, we know we have these great dreams, things we need to save for, and debt to payoff. Then, on the other hand, we know that if we never do anything fun then we'll go crazy (and probably explode) and start buying everything in sight because we've felt so deprived. ...Yep! We've all been there!
1. Change your mindset
Mindset is always my #1...as you probably know by now.
- First we want to work on our contentment
When I started with my Budgeting journey, I had already been on a Minimalism journey for several months. This taught me how to be grateful for the things that I had, how to not always desire more (sometimes way more than we really need), how to not desire things that other people had ...and that whole jealousy issue. Contentment, for me, was really just about getting right with my true heart.
- Learn to love/look forward to the little things
This ties into contentment, but it's important enough to get it's own mention here.
We all have those little things that just brighten our day. One of my favorite "little things" is cheap $4 fresh flowers from the grocery store...they just make my heart happy and they don't break the budget. For you, this could maybe be a new magazine, new nail polish, or free things like nature walks, park trips with your kids, or movie nights at home with your husband. Whatever your "little thing" is...find it, love it, and look forward to it!
- Make big goals to look forward to
Having an awesome big goal to look forward to is so important because we have to know why we're cutting back on a lot of fun little things that we used to spend money on. We have to know that what we're doing is for a greater purpose.
- Realize the bigger goals are really more important
We have to realize that buying a house one day or retiring while you're still young enough to get around is ultimately more important than buying a new pair of jeans every month.
- Understand you’re not perfect
I want you to remember as you go through this that you're not perfect, I'm not perfect, and your budget isn't always going to be perfect. So don't beat yourself up! Get over the mindset that if you go over budget once that it'll be the end of the world...it won't be! You don't have to be perfect, you just have to try your best!
2. Budget in fun money
Let's jump into the first side of the balancing act: Spending
It's okay to spend money when you're on a budget, trying to save, and trying to pay off debt...we just have to remember to put it in the budget!
- For you + your spouse!
I've heard crazy stories about couples getting on a budget and it causing them to get divorced because they wouldn't allow their spouse any fun money. This works both ways...husbands + wives...spenders + savers, both spouses need to be allowed to have some money because your spouse is human just like you are, and if they don't have any money they're going to go crazy and hate budgeting the same way that you would. Both spouses, spenders + savers, want to be allowed to have a little bit of fun without getting in trouble, so remember to budget it in for both of you!
- Lower your fun money to fit your budget
Maybe you're new to budgeting and you're just realizing...Oh! I'm allowed to have fun money!?! What!?! That's a brand new concept!
The only things is, you're probably going to need to lower that allowed fun money from what you're used to spending, and lower the expectations of what you're going to be able to do with it. Like I mentioned earlier, work on that contentment issue. Learn to love a movie night at home with a frozen pizza instead of a takeout pizza. Still fun, just cheaper! Lower that fun money to fit your new budget, your realistic life, your new goals. That doesn't mean it has to be zero...just lower than it's been in the past. Of course, it can be zero, if that's what both spouses agree to (and we definitely had those weeks), but it doesn't have to be zero!
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- Look ahead + plan ahead
Look ahead to when future fun events are coming up and simply plan for them.
For example, if you know you're going away next weekend for something fun or important that's totally fine, as long as you're not putting it on a credit card, as long as you allow for it in your budget, and as long as you're not hurting yourself to be able to go. I want you to look ahead + plan ahead for that fun weekend. Ask yourself: Where are we going to stay at? Can we get a good deal on a hotel? Can we shop around? What are we going to eat when we get there? How many meals are we going to need? How much is our gas going to cost? Are we going to need to fly somewhere instead of driving?
Simply think ahead and put those things into your budget and don't let them hurt your long term goals. It's okay to do fun things as long as we plan for these fun things!
- Realize you really will go crazy if you deprive yourself
This one is no joke! People have really gone crazy and really gotten divorced over cutting out all fun money! ...That's not what we want at all! Budgeting is to make you have a great life, not to make you fight with your spouse, not to make you hate your life, not to make you feel deprived, or go crazy. You really will go crazy if you never do anything fun. Maybe that something fun needs to be something at home, something free, or something cheap, but it is really important!
- Understand having things to look forward to is what keeps you motivated
Having a weekend away or a date night to look forward to does wonders for your motivation! I want you to budget in fun money because I want you to enjoy your life. I want you to take steps to stay motivated because you're on a long journey, and I don't want you to get burnt out. The whole point of this journey to financial freedom is to have an awesome abundant life!
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3. Prioritize saving money
The other side of the balancing act: Saving
Depending on where you are on your journey this might be "prioritizing paying off debt" instead of saving money. You'll want to have a starter emergency fund saved, then you'll want to pay off all of your debt, then you'll want to beef up your savings to more of a 3-6 months amount. ...so keep that in mind as you read this next section!
- Moving forward is goal #1
Getting to your ultimate financial goal is always priority #1. Although having fun is super important, it's still #2 because moving forward in our lives has to always be first. Remember we have big goals you guys! We have huge bright futures to look forward to! We've got to keep that as #1!
Start to ask yourself: Do I really need this new thing? Could I have fun on $10 less? Could I have fun on zero dollars?
Saving money or paying off debt has to be your first priority, so get creative + challenge yourself as you're going through this!
- Learn to let saving become “fun”
If you just started budgeting you're probably going to think I'm crazy here, but I want you to learn how to let saving money become something fun that you look forward to. Now that my husband and I are several years into this we actually look forward to pay day because we know that we're going to be able to stick more money away in savings, and it's kind of become a game of how much can we save each pay period. It's now something we look forward to, it's one of the first things we do on payday, and we get really excited to see that savings account grow. Once you master that mindset, saving money or paying off debt will become something you actually look forward to.
- Saving money is taking baby steps for big fun money!
All of this cutting back on your spending and learning how to save is all so we can later have big fun in the future.
For example, our family cut back + saved up so we could buy a boat to enjoy with the kids....that was our dream! So we sacrificed little things here and there in order to save up that money and now we're able to have big fun with the boat. In our old life that money would have went to however many dinners out that would have equaled or tons of new clothes. But now we know that all of those little things add up! Now we do without silly little things because we'd much rather have big fun like vacations, vehicles bought in cash, retirement at a young age, running a business, and ultimately be able to just chase any and all of our dreams!
Remember that cutting back little fun is only so you can save up to have super big fun!
Once you get this balancing act figured out you'll be living an amazing abundant life + you'll be totally rocking this budgeting thing!