The word “budget” conjures a myriad of thoughts of feelings. For me, the idea of financial limitation is often a source of great frustration and feelings of inadequacy. I admit that financial matters are often an easy venue for comparison that leads to an insatiable desire for more. To be honest, there are many days where I wish money were no object. I long to be free of limits and sacrifice. However, when I think about living on a budget, I recognize the character it produces. The boundaries frustrate me and yet I see the fruit of living a disciplined life that requires balance and priorities. While limits are difficult, I’m thankful for these characteristics that have grown in me over time…
I dream of being able to walk into my local J.Crew and shop the clothes right off the mannequin. While I wouldn’t turn this opportunity down, I have learned the beauty of holding back. Learning to pick and choose prudently and not make a purchase without careful consideration has taught me the value of making wise decisions and being a good steward of my resources.
Creating a budget and sticking to it requires a commitment to the priorities you have articulated. Put simply, a budget requires you to “put your money where your mouth is”. In formulating a budget, we are required to consider our values and commit to spend our funds according to the priorities we have set.
We live in a culture where the dream is often for more…more money, more opportunities, more power…However, less provides a certain sweetness we seldom see. Living by the limits of a budget orients our vision toward being grateful for what we have rather than longing for the things we do not.
I once thought that living by limits myself would make me inclined to be stingier with my money. However, the gratitude I experience in appreciating what I do have versus what I don’t have, makes me more aware of others’ need. I become more conscious of the limits others’ live by and feel great joy in sharing my resources and making giving a part of my budget.
While adhering to a budget can certainly be a means of control and hyper-vigilance, it also allows a structure to do what we can and to let the rest go. No matter how responsible we are with our money, life is messy and unexpected. We cannot possibly control every aspect of our financial lives. Instead, we are wise to do the best we can in a setting a realistic budget and let the rest go. Here, we find peace.
No matter what your financial situation, money can be a sensitive matter, evoking a wide array of emotions. A budget can benefit us in many ways, but I have come to appreciate the character it builds in addition to the practical perks it provides. In the spirit of the old adage, “no pain, no gain,” we may be surprised at the joy we find in living within limits.
Image via Be Frilly