This week’s blog is going to be about importance of rewarding yourself when you are trying to get your finances on track. It doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom. Sure, getting your personal finances on track is difficult; it involves sacrifice, hard work and restraint. However, if it was all about those three things nobody would be able to sustain this lifestyle. I would just like to tell you how treating yourself and being a little bit lenient with your budgeting can really benefit you in the long run. Before you completely dismiss this idea, just hear me out.
In the past, it took me several attempts to get into a habit of saving more and spending less. On each of my attempts I would always start off great, I would set up a strict budget, for the month ahead and put measures in place to ensure I achieve my ambitious budget limitations by making lunch everyday for work, cycle as much as possible, buy less coffee etc. Small, but important steps. As always, first few days were always easy. Life is good, you are feeling proud of yourself for doing such a great thing for your financial future etc. Couldn’t be easier. However, as days become weeks, it gets harder and harder to stick to that restrictive budget. Somewhere along the line, I would slip up, get a take-away, splash some cash on new piece of clothing or buy an expensive coffee and then my whole attitude would change. Yes, getting a take-away, or buying a coffee does sound like very basic minimal expenses, however, its not about how much money I spent on those things that would force me to lose interest in saving money, it was the fact that I spent money on something I haven’t planned and let my temptation get the best of me. My “attitude” shifts and I no longer care. Money Management is all bout your attitude to it. Anyone can just simply not spend money, but if you train your mind and change your attitude, then you will be able to sustain such lifestyle. So, after I slip up on, I would then be frustrated with myself, angry with myself and begin to re-think my whole plan towards money management. I would then go for days not caring and buy things as I please my budget would then be blown out of the water and I no longer cared about saving money. I was free, I was happy on being able to spend as I please. However, that happiness is short lived as my bank account brings me back to reality and I start to worry about money again and another budget is created and the cycle repeats itself. That was the cycle for months. You may have experience something like this too I bet (Although that is a figure of speech, I don’t bet, remember, come back on Thursday to find out why). Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, for months I couldn’t figure out why I would give up on my budget and my plans on saving money so quickly. Was I mentally weak? Did I care enough about it? Was I doing budgeting right? Was I being too hard on myself? Etc. etc. All these questions were whirling around in my head until one day *click*! I got it. I knew what was missing.
I was going about it the wrong way. Instead of restricting my finances to a point where I was afraid to spend a penny and allowing nothing but financial pain and sacrifice for myself, I was creating an environment that was not sustainable. I was working very hard to earn money and I was not allowing any of that money to go on things that I liked. I had a mentality of “save, save save, don’t you dare have fun, you need that money for a rainy day, save save save.” Hmmm….ya sure, that was partially right. Yes I needed to save. Yes, I needed money for the future to pay for important things, but, what about now, I thought, what about my happiness now. Am I going to save every single penny for my future years and not have a single penny donated to my life right here, right now? I had to change my ways. I needed to change my outlook on money management. There is a reason why it is called “money management” and not “money restriction”
I now knew that the reason why I was giving up on “money management” so easily, is because I was restricting myself too much. We are all human after all and money is there to be spent. We are tempted to buy and do things we love. So I in a way I was restricting my natural desires. So instead of saving every penny and live life of restriction and limits, I decided to enjoy my money a bit more. The “Money management” techniques I was initially implementing were slowly but surely breaking me down mentally and I couldn’t sustain the financially restricted lifestyle. That was the missing piece of the puzzle. I was working hard and my attitude to life has always being “work to live, not live to work”, so I needed to reward myself for all this hard work and sacrifice. So I added another section into my budgeting log; “Entertainment”. I would then put money aside every month (not much maybe €100-€200) that was solely there to be spent on things that I would enjoy. Such as, dinner with my girlfriend, take-away, night out with my friends, Starbucks, McDonalds and so on. This money allowed me to relax and enjoy my life a little bit. It was no longer all about restricting, sacrifice or pain. It was more about spending my money smartly, restricting my spending where it made sense and allow more breathing room where it was necessary. Soon after I made that small change I was able to stick to my budget and carry on with my money management alot better. It was a relief and it was a positive move forward. We all work hard, we all try and do the best for ourselves financially. Sure the future is important, but “now” is also important. I am still saving and restricting my finances to some extent but not as tightly as I used to.
I think everyone who is trying to put save money, to manage money or to get back on track financially should always allow some money to spend on things they enjoy. Go get that Starbucks coffee, that pizza or those shoes, go to the cinema to see that exciting new movie, go book that holiday. Reward yourself, but reward yourself intelligently. Use money you can afford to spend and not miss it without going too overboard. Allow some fun in your life. Saving money for the future is great but, what about now. Think about this when creating your next budget. You need to allow some money for things you enjoy, otherwise you will quickly get frustrated and stressed and give up on money management lifestyle. Nobody wants that. We are all in this together.
Thanks as always for reading and supporting this blog. Please feel free to share any ideas that you wish for me to cover in this blog or if you just want to share an idea, use the comment section below. As always, spread the word and lets continue this journey together.
Talk to you on the next one.