If you missed the first email about budgeting I talked all about our overall system for breaking down what we make into allocated areas to let us know we’re living and spending according to our values and needs – you can read that HERE.
But today let’s talk about some WHY questions that have really changed our lives living with a detailed budget and helping us LOVE it!
- WHY do you have the budget you have?
- WHY do you need to stick to it? What’s at stake?
- WHY do you have the sub budgets you chose?
For us personally, our biggest ‘why’ and goal currently is that we would LOVE to make it through Jared’s PhD debt free. Maybe a crazy goal but we want to do everything we can! He doesn’t have funding so we have some pretty big fees and we’ve chosen for him not to work for family life health (some things are more important than money!) so we want to be really diligent in budgeting to give our best to achieving that.
In writing this segment I told Jared I didn’t want to give ’emotional’ (ha!) advice. But as we sat on our sofa we both agreed: everyone is different in numbers and needs but genuinely knowing some certain ‘why’ answers has had really solid practical value for us. Giving ourselves the reminder, permission and space to ask ‘WHY?’ in a few areas and talk it out and then challenge it and carry the certainly of ‘why’ forward is actually the most grounding budgeting rule we go back to.
Throwing Jared under the bus for an example!
Jared HATES lowering out ‘eat out’ budget. It’s his least favourite one to feel like he’s losing money from. I had to start by asking him:
WHY does it matter to you?
Answer: Because it’s how he relaxes and has fun. It helps him let his hair down and celebrate family life at the weekend and really unwind.
That was so helpful for me to know. But then too it can help us unpack how we can work our needs and budget together and win at both. We worked out how we could get all the fun for less money. For him to feel the fun does it need to be a full meal we eat out? Does it need to be the whole family? Is it about being out or about fun food?
We established a few options that spent half the money but still met his needs from that budget that we’d discovered by asking WHY. Our solutions? 1. We can go out just for family coffees mid morning. We still get out and have fun, the price is WAY lower. 2. It’s also mostly about ‘fun’ food for him so getting takeout and bringing it home is another good option which saves us buying for the kids as well because we do it after bed time.
But on the other side. Knowing WHY we have a budget helped him let go of a bit more money there, it gave him vision for something that would have been less fun. A year ago we’d accessed all our budgets and still chose to lower that eat out budget almost to zero. That would have been hard for him except that he knew WHY…
Our ‘Why?’ for that lower budget: It was to allow our other budgets to be where we needed them. It allowed us to set money aside for doctor’s bills and other things that might come so that if they did come it wouldn’t throw us. It allowed us to save monthly for birthday gifts so we were prepped. It allowed us to keep giving the way we wanted to and have the amount we needed to in our ‘at home food’ budget so we can eat the way we value at home. That way when the negative feelings about eating out came around he didn’t feel like a victim but knew we’d been powerful in our choices and that getting what we wanted in the eating out budget would have cost other areas in a way we didn’t want. So one budget looked at alone felt hard but seen in light of life and vision and knowing why, felt really great.
I’ve used a Jared example but there are plenty the other way round too, this is the system for how we keep it working well!
So my advice to you is don’t just HAVE a budget. Know WHY you have a budget. Knowing both the overall reason for budgeting well but also why you break it down the way you do changes EVERYTHING!
Look over your budget and ask some WHY questions. If you’re looking after more than just yourself budget wise and it works to do this, then ask some why questions within your household to help everyone understand and to find the best answers!
Next week I’ll be back with practical ways we’ve learned to save or budget in lots of different areas of life so you can get a picture for the ways we’ve adjusted things and see how we work it out! You’ll get an email when the next blog is posted or if you don’t get my emails just pop your email address in on the site main page and you’ll get a reminder when the next post it live!