Is Your Budget Making You Bitter?
By Yolander Prinzel
Last week, I wrote a post about the $70 night out I had with my husband. In the cheap night out post I knocked myself for spending a week’s worth of grocery money on one dinner and a movie. Luckily, Len Penzo of Len Penzo dot Com stopped by and slapped a little bit of sense into my overly restricted brain. He said:
You know what, Yolander? Unless I am missing something here, seventy bucks for two people over four hours seems like a pretty decent value to me.
That is about $8 per hour per person – that’s roughly equivalent the price of going to a movie on an hourly basis.
Don’t be so hard on yourself!
Naturally, he is right. Often when we work hard to stick to a budget and be frugal (two things that do not always go together) we take an overly negative stance toward any spending that could be considered wasteful. When I realized I spent a week’s worth of groceries on one night out—I was disappointed in myself. Len, however, saw the expense as reasonable and—dare I say it—a value.
If your budget is making you bitter and overly hard on yourself, think about the following:
1. A budgeted, frugal life that is spent obsessing over money and spending is no better than a non-budgeted, wasteful life spent obsessing over money and spending. Your budget and frugal activities should do more to free you than to bind you. They should free up your time to do things you love, free up your mind to enjoy your life, and free up your wallet from strain.
2. Frugality is too expensive if it makes you regret every penny splurged. Everyone’s financial situation is different, and some folks really can’t afford to splurge on much—but almost everyone can afford a $5 splurge here and there. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
3. Don’t let your budget work you — you should work your budget. You are not a prisoner to your budget. If something isn’t working or isn’t making you happy, take a look and readjust. You might have to spend less money somewhere else but if that keeps you more satisfied then it’s worth it.
4. Have a goal. When you have a generalized, “Spend less and save more” goal, you may find it more difficult to happily stick to your budget and you may find temptation harder to ignore. If you have a well-defined goal for your budgeting and frugality you will have a sense of purpose that makes your efforts less stressful.
5. Reward yourself. No, not every day and not for doing nothing, but when you have achieved an interim goal—reward yourself in a cost-efficient but fulfilling way.
6. Value yourself over your money. Like it or not, your money is really just another possession. Sure it’s a tool to reach your goals and keep your standard of living, but it is a thing. You should value all the people, experiences and relationships more than you do your money… even if it costs you $70 once in a while to do so.
Photo credit: sparetomato
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