It was 2008, and I had commenced my second year of university. One day before psychology class I was chatting with friends when I raised the topic that I just don’t have any money. One of my friends then asked, what do you mean? I went on to explain that I put money away, and then get a bill which I need to pay and as a result never have any money left. My friend then responded by saying you need to budget your money. While I knew of the concept of budgeting, I never thought of doing one to manage my finances. So instead of going home and doing my psychology reading, I searched the internet for a budget template (which I still use today) and developed my budget.
So you are probably asking what does budgeting have to do with decluttering, minimalism and organising and the answer is a lot. A big chunk of the stuff you own, you have gone out and made a conscious decision to buy it. A budget will help to keep your consumption under control. Furthermore, a budget can also help you to create a life you truly value.
What is a budget?
A budget in simple terms is a plan on how you spend the money you earn. People often identify budgeting as a negative process that puts strict limits on your spending. However, I see them as a powerful tool that gives you the opportunity to focus your energy on the things that matter.
Why are they important?
Without a budget, you end up spending money on stuff without any thought as to what you are buying and more importantly why you are buying it. Often this leaves you with stuff you don’t need. Not only is this a waste of money but also has the potential to put you in debt. Through planning where your money goes, you set limits on how much stuff you buy in a given month/ year. For example, you may set a budget of $2000 a year on clothing. Not only does this set limits on how much you spend on particular items but more importantly you begin to question where you are allocating your money and how much money you assign to things. For example, you may start to ask yourself, do I need to spend $2000 a year on clothing? You may then go to your wardrobe and identify that you can get by with the clothes you already have and only need to allocate $1000 a year to clothes. Budgeting helps to keep you overall consumption down and keeps your home clutter free and organised.
Now you are probably wondering, what is the point of having money if you don’t spend it? This is a valid question, but I propose some new questions; are you solely working to acquire more stuff? And are you living a life that you truly value? A budget should not restrict you from living a life your desire but rather focus your attention on the things you truly value. The challenge today, however, is companies are telling us what we value and what makes us happy. Company advertising and marketing are sending messages that we need more than just the essentials to live and be happy. That happiness comes from having the latest phone, car, the biggest house and the designer clothes. Does having all this stuff really make us happy? People end up devoting more of their time to earning more money just to acquire more stuff. Often leaving people to work jobs they don’t enjoy and long hours to conform to society’s concept of happiness. This pursuit of having more stuff often results in people forgoing their true passions and interests.
While I acknowledge that we live in a world that requires money to live, it should not mean that you live for money, but rather money should live for you. Through budgeting your get a clearer picture of how much money you need to live enabling you to create a life you truly value; rather than acquiring stuff that has little worth. Over the years my budgets have concentrated less on physical stuff and more on experiences, such as holidays, acting classes and other creative pursuits. These are things that I value and would not be able to achieve if I didn’t organise my finances.Likewise, through budgeting and reducing your expenses, you may realise that you don’t need to be in that high paying job that you don’t like or work long hours to make ends meet. You may discover you can work a more enjoyable lower paying job. Alternatively, you may be able to work fewer hours enabling you more time to follow your passions, spend more time with family/friends or contribute to your local community. While I do have a full-time job, budgeting has allowed me to allocate some of my income and time to support my passions in minimalist living and to establish this business (Creating Positive Spaces).
Besides keeping your home clutter free and organised budgeting supports you to see where your money is going. This helps to steer you in the right direction with what you want to achieve with your life. As a new financial year approaches maybe it's time to consider developing a budget to organise your finances. Finally, while we work to acquire money, we give up our time to work. So while we may gain money from work, we will never gain more time through work. So for every purchase, you make not only are you handing over money but also your time spent earning it. So always question is my time worth this purchase?