We all worry about money. Due to the shelter-in-place orders from the COVID-19 Pandemic, more people worry about money today because 40 million Americans claimed unemployment benefits. Yet, developing contentment through budgeting can reduce that stress. I’ve implemented the tips I’m about to provide with great success. Let’s go!
Developing Contentment Through Budgeting With Pen & Paper
Get a pen and a piece of paper. Next, if you’re in a relationship or married grab your partner and sit down. From there, write down your gross income for the month. If you have multiple streams of income, separate each onto its own line. Finally, write down the net income for that month. Hopefully these figures don’t shock you as I hope you know what your gross and net income is per month.
On that same piece of paper I want you (or you and your partner) to write down all of your fixed and variable expenses. This will include rent/mortgage, car payment, loans, groceries, eating out, etc. Why do I want you to write this out on the same piece of paper as your income? So you can see your spending and contrast it against your income.
While there are plenty of budget tracking programs like Mint and You Need A Budget, I believe people don’t really realize their spending habits until they search for the figures and write them down. Shock settles in and an argument may form. However, this is a good thing. Because now you know the extent of your spending and you can develop a plan to curtail it.
Discover Why You Spend Your Money The Way You Do
I’m not here to tell you how to spend your money because it is yours. You worked hard for it. However, I want you to sit down and think about why you spend your money the way you do. Are you bored? Is spending a form of entertainment? Do you have a self-esteem problem? Or is it out of laziness?
When we are not at peace people will make choices to attain contentment. Thus, you may be spending money incorrectly because it makes you feel better temporarily. Yet, that calmness is very expensive and will drain your budget.
Developing Contentment Through Budgeting By Thinking About Your Purchases
To go along with the last point, a good way of developing contentment through budgeting is actually thinking about your purchases.
Yes, we all need a place to stay, but you do you need to live in a fancy house or apartment? The same goes with your car: Couldn’t you drive a Toyota instead of BMW? Do you have to eat out 5 days a week, or could you knock it down to 2 days a week and cook at home the other times?
When you stop and think about your purchases you can overcome that feeling of wanting to feel good right then. While, yes, that feeling is awesome, but it’s not logical. The flesh is weak and can get you into debt. With that debt comes stress.
Think about this another way: Calculate how much you would have to work per pay period to afford the item you want. Let’s use rent as an example. The monthly rent in this scenario is $1000 and you earn $20 per hour. To afford that rent you will have to work 50 hours! If you work an eight hour shift, you have you to work 6.25 days. Add in a car payment, student loan repayment, food, and entertainment, and you’re working constantly. There goes you peace and quiet.
Do I Budget?
I do not following a written budget. I wrote about how I go about spending my money, and why it works for me. While this option isn’t for those will poor self-control, it can work if people put the time and willpower into living without a written budget. Overall, I know what I can and can’t afford. Even if I can afford something, I ask myself the following questions:
- Why do I want it?
- Do I have this already at home, or something similar?
- How long will I enjoy this, or use this?
I concede it does suck to tell myself I can’t have a gadget or a particular food. Yet, I rather go without it and improve my finances than buy it and feel terrible about my decision. I value my contentment way too much.
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