The “I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money)” support group met twice in September to discuss how to be more resourceful. In a few words, it’s all about creativity, fun and joy.
There are many goals for budgeting: avoid waste; simplify your life; save money (to perhaps use on other things), etc. The feelings generated by budgeting include: freedom; security; safety; protected; empowerment; in control; responsible; having choices/options, etc.
Budgeting provides a structure you can lean on when will power isn’t what you may need it to be. But a good budget also has built-in flexibility (I, for example, never turn down the chance to buy chocolate, wine, or flowers even if they’re not on my list). A budget helps you be more conscious of money in general, and conscious of your money in particular. It helps you to answer the question, “What do I really want?” so that you’re not spending your hard-earned money for no good reason (or on things that steal resources from your life’s priorities).
Regarding priorities, a visioning tool
(board, book or card)
can help you clarify & solidify your goals and dreams
and remind you of them
when your appetite
exceeds your means.
<— Here’s a photo of a page in my vision book.
Sure, you can go on avoiding this kind of consciousness, but you’ll continue to do what I call “wander and squander.” This month’s featured speaker, Raederle Phoenix, shared her commitment to what she calls consciousness alchemy which, in layman’s terms, means to be really aware of what you are desiring, what’s motivating you, what you are feeling that’s causing you to choose the actions you choose; the core emotional trigger.
I recently watched a TED talk by Tony Robbins on why we do what we do (he says, “Emotion is the force of life,” and even gives a shout out for resourcefulness!).
What we’ve found in the support group that the key is support because it reduces money avoidance.
For example, in the case of one of the couples who are “regulars” at our group, one spouse is still working and the other has retired. They are tracking their discretionary and irregular expenditures – the variables such as home repairs after the Snowvember storm and splurges on their anniversary celebration – to determine what their retirement budget will look like.
You have to remember, once you’re no longer on the accumulation part of this financial journey, you’re on the de-cumulation part and it’s a very different energy. Knowing what you definitely and possibly may need is key to planning and reducing your stress. It would be much easier for them to ignore these expenditures and go on their merry way, but choosing to do so comes with a price: potentially a lot more stress later on, which could be pretty rough on a marriage.
Sometimes I see people who think money is this scary monster like the one that was under the bed when you were a kid. I can’t really blame them for not wanting to look under that bed! But, if you remember, once you do, you realized there was no monster.
“Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness…” ~ Desiderata
Getting back to resourcefulness, one of the things you can ask yourself is, “What do I already have that I could use again, differently, and/or to help others?”
- Try to not be wasteful. Use everything.
- Be open to try something new and/or different.
- Make stuff
- Learn basic repair techniques (you can learn almost anything on YouTube)
- Make your own laundry detergent and fabric softener. I do both, they’re great and so inexpensive. See the bottom for the recipes. (I was going to provide links but all of them made you click through a bunch of ads and that kind of thing just pisses me off.)
- At the end of the school year go through school supplies such as notebooks and remove (for recycling, of course) used pages, retaining the rest of the book for the following year. I spent a couple hours last summer going through our daughter’s ridiculous bin of crayons, sharpening the ends, making up baggies with some index cards or scratch paper. I hand them out when a child is throwing a tantrum at the grocery store. The parent is always happy with this.
- Don’t forget about shopping thrift stores!
- Make your own Halloween costumes (they’re always the best anyway). I once used an old fuzzy white bathrobe to make our daughter a kitten costume. Now she wants to dress like a zombie. But I digress…
And don’t buy things that aren’t perfect; wait for the perfect thing to show up. I think one of the reasons why professional organizers are in such high demand is because we buy too much stuff in general and probably stuff that’s almost right but not quite and then we don’t really use/wear it and don’t want to admit our mistake by tossing (or donating) the item. Plus, once we own something there’s something called the endowment effect that takes place in our brains creating an increased value simply because we own it.
Or, as featured speaker Raederle Phoenix suggested, don’t buy anything. You’d be surprised what people will simply give you. (Note: You have to be humble enough to ask.) Raederle acquired a dish washer and several items for her wardrobe completely free.
She also explained how she has never paid for lodging (and she has done a LOT of traveling, in fact she’s written Living Big and Traveling Far on $8000 a Year (Or Less!)) by simply trading work/advice for staying with someone. Some examples of resources you can trade:
- People are a resource and time is everyone’s base resource. Raederle shared that she tracks how she spends all of her time. I’ve done something similar the last few months and am surprised by the results (and tracking alone results in better time management choices).
Not all of Raederle’s trade-for-lodging circumstances were ideal, but many were heavenly! This implies a life of adventure and while not for everyone, at least expands your spectrum of what is possible. That’s resourcefulness!
One of the problems with budgeting is that we’re not patient enough; patient with ourselves, patient with our circumstances, patient with our spouse/children etc. Budgeting can help you be more virtuous because it demands your patience, your constitution, your time and your thoughts. Who doesn’t want to be more virtuous? People will judge you but they’re going to judge you even if you don’t budget so you might as well take care of yourself.
Regarding budgeting as a couple: Each of you must determine what you really want and why you want it and see where your goals overlap or where they conflict. Remember, date night is a very important investment in your marriage. David Upham in his blog Why Get Hitched talks about the importance of spouses continually having adventures together to keep the spark in the relationship. Adventures needn’t be costly, either.
If you and your spouse just need to get on the same financial page, simply call or email me.
Regarding children: Give them the opportunity to learn how to be resourceful and how to budget as a way of protecting them from feeling entitled (the new term for being “spoiled” Ron Lieber writes about this a lot). Kids can be incredibly creative given the opportunity. Ever see a kid with a refrigerator box? Our daughter and her cousins created a fine little cottage complete with a porch and window boxes. If we had bought the $450 plastic cottage (as if) we would have denied them all this fantastic creative opportunity to make something all by themselves!
DIY laundry detergent: 4 ingredients, 4 steps
1. Get a large sauce pan.
2. Grate 1/3 bar soap (I use Dove for sensitive skin) into 4 cups of water, heat on low and stir until dissolved.
3. Pour mixture into a 5 gallon bucket (we used an old kitty litter tub), add 3 gallons of water.
4. Stir in 1/2 cup washing (not baking) soda and 1/2 cup Borax, stir until thickened.
Let sit for 24 hours before using.
DIY fabric softener:
Use an old fabric softener container or soda bottle (with funnel)
Mix until combined:
2 cups of inexpensive hair conditioner (I used Suave waterfall or something, it’s just to counteract the vinegary smell)
2 cups warm water
3 cups white vinegar
Use 1/4 cup or so for a large load.
Allow clothes to dry on the line whenever possible (you can hang a line in your basement during the colder months).
Be resourceful! Be Joyful!