I don’t know about you, but I always think of being on a tight budget like being on a restrictive diet. The longer you restrict, the bigger the binge. Eventually, your restrictive dam will break, potentially undoing all of your hard work. And then, when the binge is over, you’re left feeling horrible because of it. But, if we put to practice these 3 money mindset tips to help you spend guiltfree, we may just see a silver lining we never thought possible when it comes to savings and sending our money!
Several years ago I attended a photography conference called I Heart Faces. At this conference, a well-known photographer, Tamara Lackey, was the keynote speaker. And, while you would think her talk would be about photography, it was not. She talked about money.
Stick with me here, the moral of her story is important.
In a nutshell (and I’m paraphrasing based on my memory from her talk 7 years ago), she told the audience that during a very difficult financial period in her life, she and her husband had to severely restrict their budget (we can all relate to this). And, like all budgets, sacrifices had to be made. And one of her sacrifices was…
her Starbucks morning coffee with her husband.
So, being a good budget follower, she and her husband gave up their morning Starbucks coffee in an attempt to save some money. But, it didn’t take long to realize that something was off.
Turns out it wasn’t only the morning coffee she and her husband gave up. Soon, they discovered that by giving up their morning Starbucks coffee, they gave up some of the only alone time they shared together.
It’s not about the money.
Turns out, this morning Starbucks coffee wasn’t just about the coffee. It was about the two of them taking time away from their business, and from their busy family life, to have time to be with each other, uninterrupted.
In the end, Tamara and her husband went back to their Starbucks coffee and found a way to save money elsewhere. They changed the way they thought about their money (their money mindset) and how spending their money could be a good thing! Sure, maybe they didn’t save as much as giving up the daily Starbucks, but they decided that their time together in the morning was worth more than saving those few extra dollars, without guilt.
Sigh. The End.
Ok, not quite, but let’s take some time to break this down.
The budget guilt.
I don’t know about you, but every time I would sit down and create our family budget I could see the gold light of the budget goddess that I was shining bright behind me.
I did it. I created a budget masterpiece that would solve all of our family’s problems. It was but one, very simple, yet very complicated, excel spreadsheet. These numbers, that I created on the screen, will dictate how we would live our lives. If we follow its numbers, only love, laughter and shining light will follow.
And. we wonder why we have budget guilt.
When we believe we had solved a problem, the family budget, it feels pretty crappy when things don’t go as planned.
Sometimes the guilt of spending beyond my budget category was worse than eating a piece of cheesecake when I was already over my WW points allotment for the week, a points value that NO amount of cardio would negate.
Cheesecake guilt is the worst kind of guilt.
Yes, it’s important to have a budget, but if you understood the moral of Tamara’s story, then you understand that it’s also OK to spend on the things that really matter to you and your family without guilt.
For example, summer vacation is very important to our family. We don’t have the time or money to invest in multiple “memory making” trips with our kids, so we rely on the annual family summer vacation to fit that bill.
Now, until recently, we would split the cost of a vacation beach rental with friends, but due to scheduling conflicts, etc, we have found that we can no longer do that. So, instead of calling off the vacation because the cost of renting a house on our own was too expensive, we decided to downsize the house rental and foot the entire bill for our annual beach house ourselves.
Would I love to split the cost? YES! But, I consider this cost an investment in our family. The return on that investment is the memories we make as a family.
Reduce the binge.
I really do think making a budget and starting a diet are one and the same. You pinpoint the problem (overspending or overeating), you do some research that you hope will address the problem (budget or diet). You sit down, you prep and plan and hope for a positive outcome (saving money or losing weight).
The only issue with these plans is that we restrict ourselves to the point of explosion. We hold back, and we hold back until we just can’t hold back anymore. And, when that dam finally breaks, we just spend and spend and spend and spend (or eat and eat and eat and eat).
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had panic attacks and had to dip into our savings because we went on a spending binge and didn’t have enough to cover bills. So much for restricting our spending!
So, how do we address the problem?
By making, and appreciating, those small investments that we do make, without guilt.
Take some time to think about what you really want to spend your money on. For us, it’s that little beach house. Grab a few of those “wants” and see if you can make them work in your budget.
Like any successful diet plan, if you include some of your favorite indulgences in your plan, you’re likely to be more successful. But, like any unsuccessful diet plan, the more you restrict the more likely you are to fail.
A lack of flexibility is a lack of sustainability.
Here’s the deal, I’m not telling you to throw your budget out the window. I’m telling you that it’s OK to spend some money on items that allow you to invest in yourself and your family. But, only you know your financial limits.
The cost of that little “beach house” fits in within the higher end of our summer vacation budget. And, we make adjustments elsewhere so we can make this work.
I think we need to, if we can, loosen our purse strings just a hair so we can allow ourselves some freedom to help reduce the guilt and the binge. It’s possible, oh so possible, that we will have better success with our money if we do.
Check out my 2 best budget hacks and start spending and saving simply! I share how I prepare our daily budget, what steps I take to stay on top of that budget, and how I plan for our family “investment” purchases.
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