image courtesy of aiminglow.com
We are living in a time when everything is about, "what I want, how I want it, when I want it."
See if this rings a bell:
Be YOU, do YOU, worry about YOU... everyone and everything else comes after YOU have every whim satisfied: nice clothes, nice home, nice hair/makeup/body, nice car, nice phone, awesome trips, cool gadgets... or whatever it is that floats your boat.
We are absolutely bombarded by these kinds of messages every single day: the radio, the internet, tv, billboards, ads, magazines... and it created quite the self-serving mindset.
I'm not advocating that it's wrong to want nice things.
The problem lies in our attitude towards how we get those things.
Can't afford it? Use a credit card.
Already have an older model? Get the latest and greatest anyway. You deserve it... just because you want it.
It'll take away from important family time? Go do it anyway.
It'll break your budget? Wait... what budget?
It'll put your kids/spouse/parents in a difficult situation? Tough luck for them. Don't they understand that you need to take care of numero uno?
Before the dissenters begin their dissenting, I understand the importance of taking care of youself in order to more fully take care of others. Complete self-denial is not what I'm talking about.
But I've learned that if I want something, I can't always get it in the "ideal way"(a.k.a. immediately.)
Novel concept, I know.
It's the mis-guided, yet widely accepted, mindset of the day: "I want it now. Why wait? The money will work itself out... or the government, or Mom and Dad, or someone else will take care of it."
You can see how well that's working out for people... the average U.S. household credit card debt fro 2013 is $15,263. That's just credit card debt! The average student loan debt stands at $31,646, and the average mortgage debt is $147,591.
So, maybe it's time to take a deeper look at how we spend our hard-earned money:
Do you really need a $150/month phone plan?
Do you have to have that new car?... or does the one you have work just fine?
Do you really need a newer/larger home?...think about actually CLEANING those five bathrooms...
And do you have to have that home right now?
Those are some of the bigger things... but often times it's the little things that add up and stick it to us:
Do you really need 4 pairs of boots?
Will you wear that outfit more than a couple times?
Does that $300 watch really look that much cooler?
Do your kids have to have 6 pairs of jeans when you KNOW they'll wear their 2 favorites over and over, unless you make them put on one of the other pairs.
Is that oh-so-cute $200 bag really necessary?
$8 popcorn at the movies, $100 cable bill, $40 steak dinner...
All those things I just listed?
NOT. BAD. THINGS!
But would it be so bad to save up for them, find a way to do without them, or look for a less expensive alternative?
A few years ago, after I had baby #2, I became very interested in triathlons. (I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that my mid-section looked like a sack of lumpy oatmeal for a week after my daughter was born.)
I didn't have a bike. I didn't have a helmet. I didn't own goggles, or a typical triathlete outfit, or ANY equipment necessary to train for one of those things... plus, I didn't technically know how to swim... and I didn't have cash for entry fees.
Well, I decided a triathlon was a worthy goal, and I worked out a plan to train in a way that wouldn't leave my family hanging.
The problem was the money. I couldn't afford to do a triathlon.
I had zero "extra" lying around, and I didn't want to dip into our other already-budgeted-out funds.
So, I came up with a plan.
Over the course of a few months, I found killer deals online, and resold the items I bought on eBay or Craigslist during nap times or when my husband was working late.
iTunes would have $50 gift cards on sale for $40. I'd buy them, and resell them for $48 or so. Black Friday deals came up, and I took full advantage of those... buying cheap, and selling for a small profit.
For 3 months, I saved up.
Then, I started buying stuff... because I could afford it.
I bought goggles, a swim cap, an ironman watch, a triathlete outfit, new road bike tires and spare inner tubes (to use on my husband's mountain bike), a fancy-pants helmet, other workout clothes, and the money for entry fees.
I spent $325.
That may seem like pennies to some of you, but for me, it was a significant amount:
Groceries for my family for a month...
Gas for our vehicles for 2 months...
Our entire Christmas fund...
It felt AWESOME to have worked for it myself. My family budget wasn't messed up, no one and nothing was negatively affected as a result, and I was able to more fully appreciate my whole triathlon experience, because I had worked to make it happen.
I'd love to hear what has worked for you and your family as you've made efforts to live within a budget, so please share!!
I'll just leave it at that for today, and part with this enlightening video, brought to you by SNL. It pretty much sums up this post... plus it's hilarious.