My friend’s 2021 goal is to keep a budget. She was explaining how she always had one but didn’t truly abide to it. This year, she wants to rely on it to tell her when she can and cannot spend. She shared how much she disliked the budget. She had heard its praises and thought that it would be fun for her, but was very quickly disappointed. People don’t usually share the tough stuff!
Her biggest qualm was that she wasn’t able to spend on whatever whenever. Mind you, she is not a big spender at all, however, she did not enjoy having to push something for later. There are obviously ways that she can make that transition easier for her, like giving herself a comfortable fun budget or create an account to put in any extra cash for any “want” expenses. It still didn’t change the core of the issue, which was the limitation on spending.
We then proceeded to point out how when having everything we need and not being extravagant consumers, we still felt limited in being able to spend freely. When would that day come, when we did not have to think when buying this we won’t be able to afford that? That’s when it hit us. Our perspective of “being rich” was very skewed towards a handful lavishly endowed portrayed by society and media.
We had bought into the idea that being rich equals being filthy rich, where numbers seem to have no impact on you. Under that point of view, we were never going to be satisfied with our means. The fantastical ideal is surreal for most people and in all honesty, truly unnecessary. I’ve referred to celebrities before speaking how fame and money does not satisfy. You can have multiples of high-end cars, houses, clothes, toys, and access to luxurious activities, yet issues in life will not go away. This is the other face of that lie: money will make you happy. To a certain extent it can, because there is happiness in a full stomach. Money can solve some problems like providing shelter and access to an education, but it cannot feed you a purpose, give you a hug, or set your soul free.
Our admiration for money comes from the belief that we can buy ourselves out of pain and suffering. When we get money that helps us bless our family, provide for a home and for food, we go back looking for more and do not stop to consider that we already have more than enough. We do not see that what we are looking for is at our fingertips. Money is a means to comfort, not to happiness.
I have found joy in being thankful to God for all He has given and done for me, and I find happiness in the simple things around me. Not every day is a piece of cake, and the cheap idea that throwing money at it can make things better still taunts me. Step by step, I am moving away from that unhealthy relationship and am more appreciative of my today and the things that do not have a price tag. Seconding my friend, I don’t always enjoy having to abstain to a budget, but I am grateful that there is a north for the money we get to earn. A budget takes a temperature of your heart: it shows where your priorities are. In naming each cent ahead of time, we have slowly revealed our own impatience, materialism, discontentment, as well as bad planning and high ambition. We have also learned to differentiate between wants and needs, been able to afford certain purchases through dedicated savings, and happily (most of the time) live within our means and saving goals.
With renewed perspective and gratefulness for what we already have, we continue working on being better with our budget and keeping money in the place where it belongs: to help with physical comfort for ourselves, our own, and our community.