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Budgeting your way to your ideal life

In our culture, we are a society of consumers. More is better. Newer is better. And repeat.

Newsflash: This is a rollercoaster to nowhere.

If your spending money as fast as you are making, if your days and weeks are one big whirlwind of activity, if your are stressed or not satisfied with your life….. more money isn’t going to change anything.

More money is just going to magnify problems that are already there. This is why lotto winners often lose it all and why celebrities sometimes aren’t happy. In the words of Jay Z “mo money, mo problems.“

But there is some good news here: You can decide to forge your own path.

It starts with remembering that more is not always better. You know this already, deep down. The sentiment is there you just need to find it, wipe the dust off, take it for a spin and remember how it feels.

Once you remember that more is not always better you need to take a hard look at your life. Most of us have too much stuff, too many commitments and too little time and money to handle it all.

But it can be different. If you can do the hard work and get intentional about what matters to you and how you want your life to look like you can use your budget as a tool to get you there. Decide what you want, allocate your money and watch your life change.

But for that to work, you need to decide: How much is enough?

I want more for you than a balanced budget. I want you to love Mondays, have free space in your days AND build a savings account. I want you to have it all! And you can!

You just have to get super intentional about how you want to spend your time, energy and money. The three are so intertwined, you can’t improve one without considering the other.

So let’s look at three main areas of your life, and how to design your ideal life.

Income: How much is enough?

How much money do you really need to be making? How much money do you WANT to be making? If you are burnt out, run down or hate your job, it’s time to take a closer look at how you are earning your money.

If you are an ambitious person, this can feel hard. If you are successful, it might feel even harder. But successful doesn’t equal happy.

When my husband and I moved out of the city, he was fortunate to be able to work from home. But we knew that he was giving up advancement opportunity when he made the move. And we were ok with that. Because by making that decision we were choosing our ‘enough’ income level and were prepared to make the lifestyle adjustment we needed to make it happen. We were ready to live differently, and we were willing to forgo potential promotions for it.

If you are looking for permission to take your foot off of the ambition petal, do it. You don’t have to get caught up in chasing the next job, career or bonus. You can back off. The catch is that it HAS to be a strategic decision. So before you run out and quit your job, consider the other changes you will have to make to your lifestyle.

Action Step: How do you feel about your career/income level? Is it worth all that comes with it (time, energy, stress) or do you need to explore new earning options?

Lifestyle: How much is enough?

More books. More clothes. More cars. More vacations. More, more, more.

Decide to get off the more wagon, now.

Where you live is a lifestyle choice. Having cable is a lifestyle choice. Having two cars is a lifestyle choice. Private school is a lifestyle choice. These expenses, and more, become such a normal part of our lives that we forget they are a choice. A choice we could decide to change.

Less money might equal more time and more energy. More time and energy helps you do things like find ways to keep your lifestyle costs low.

When I decided to watch my son full time, I knew I was giving up potential income. To help fill the gap, we do our own yard work, take fewer vacations, meal plan and watch our variable spending. At this point in my life, the tradeoff is worth it. But that might change again in the future.

If you hate having to watch your costs, that is a signal to you that you need to keep your income higher to cover those costs. There are no right or wrong answers here, just what is right for YOUR life. And remembering that you have the choice to change it.

Action Step: What do you want your lifestyle to look like? Does it cost more or less than your current lifestyle?

Schedule: How much is enough?

I’m an introvert at heart, so when I get over scheduled I burn out fast. I have learned over time how to keep my schedule manageable so I show up in the best way possible for my business and family.

But everywhere I look people are burnt out, running on fumes to their next activity, trying to do it all. I want to pull them aside and force them to go home and take a bubble bath.

Because you don’t have to do it all. You can cancel, you can delegate you can say no. No is a complete sentence, actually. Use it.

When you have a bit more time in your life it creates space for your brain to rest, think and strategically plan out how you want to use your time and money. See? There is that time, energy, money connection again.

Action Step: What activity could you cut out to help make some space in your weekly schedule?

How your time energy and money flow together will evolve over time. It will change as you move to a different season of life, or as your needs and wants change and develop. No decision is permanent, it’s all flexible.

It’s just about slowing down, deciding what enough is, and sticking to that. Free up some space in your life, that is where the magic happens.

Money is a tool to get you to wherever you want to go, YOU are the driver. You CAN design your ideal life, you CAN make it happen.