Let’s face it: living life according to one’s budgetary limitations can be challenging at best and depression-inducing at worst. Nearly everything costs money, and so we’re constantly reminded of how little of it we possess, especially when surrounded by people who have seemingly limitless amounts of the stuff. Having only worked in the non-profit sector, I can certainly identify with the need to pinch pennies wherever possible, but at a certain point, it’s important to distinguish between saving for security and saving for the sake of saving. If you find yourself doing more of the latter, it’s time to reframe your approach to budgeting.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be a restrictive or alienating practice if you don’t want it to be. Yes, I’m saying you can actually live joyously on a budget! It’s taken me some time to manage my earnings so that they accommodate my lifestyle (and I’ve had more than one “splurge” moments where I just couldn’t pass up the perfect winter coat), but I feel pretty content with my current financial situation. I hope that my own budgeting tips will help you alleviate some of your own fiscal anxiety.
1. Don’t be afraid to spend money.
In my mind, creating a sustainable budget demands that we stop associating fear with spending. It might sound counter-intuitive at first, but think about it: if we’re constantly fear-ridden when spending, we’ll deprive ourselves of certain things–often necessary things–that will inevitably return with a vengeance. For instance, suppose you sprain your wrist and decide not to go to the doctor for fear that you’ll spend a small fortune in bills. However, if your wrist does not properly heal and you end up exacerbating the sprain, it will cost you even more money than if the original injury had been treated.
2. When you spend, consider long-term investments.
A favorite litmus test of mine is to ask myself, “Am I going to want to use/wear this 5 years from now?” If the answer is no, then I’m likely to move on; considering something’s temporary novelty gives me peace of mind and perspective. On the other hand, if the answer is yes, this is a worthwhile investment, I experience minimal guilt when making a purchase because I know that this item will stay with me for years to come, taking on its own meaning through time and space.
3. Relish in your resourcefulness.
Living on a budget means that you sometimes have to opt for homemade over tailor-made, or staycations instead of backpacking in Europe. Rather than submit to these realities begrudgingly, why not use this opportunity to become a DIY goddess? Host your own dinner party, organize a staycation with a loved one, or make your own holiday decorations to hang around your living space.
Personally, I love kitchen projects such as making vegan yogurt, brewing homemade kombucha, and pickling my own veggies. There’s something truly rewarding about cooking all your food from scratch. The money you save as a result is just a bonus.
Even if you’re still lamenting the status of your bank account, take heart: research in the UK shows that people who maintain a formal budget are markedly happier than those who pay little attention to their spending. It makes sense, of course, since awareness of one’s spending habits eliminates a lot of the anxiety that comes with reckless purchases. So, whether you use an app or good old-fashioned pen and paper to monitor monthly expenses, you’re actually fostering a more joyful environment for yourself, and that’s something to celebrate.
Related: How to Overcome Anxiety About Money
Also by Molly: 5 Simple Ways to Give Back to the Community
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Photo: Alexander Solodukhin via Unsplash