I am generally a very positive person.
When I wake up in the morning, I am AWAKE, full-volume and just as chatty as any other point in the day. (I’ve come to realize that not everyone appreciates this quality.)
I describe my childhood as “rainbows and unicorns” and I’ve been admonished by every writing teacher and boss I’ve ever had for using exclamation points in excess.
All this to say, I naturally gravitate toward the full glass. Except when it came to my money.
When I first started budgeting or rather thinking about starting to budget, having to say, “No,” was the part that freaked me out the most.
I didn’t want to be told that I couldn’t buy new shoes, or that I couldn’t eat out. I didn’t want to be made to feel bad about how I was spending my money.
And then one day, it clicked. I had been thinking about it all wrong. It’s not about the No—it’s about the Yes.
No Doesn’t Mean No
I could focus on having to say, “No,” and all the ways I couldn’t spend money. Bor-ing. Or I could focus on the fact that every time I said, “No,” and didn’t spend the money, I was increasing my ability to say, “Yes,” in the future.
It isn’t even a question of Yes or No, it’s an exercise in priority—an honest question of priority. Do I want to stop for coffee right now? Yes, I do. But do I want to spend that money on coffee or do I want to do XX more? If I’m saving for a trip or paying off my debt or hoping to send my kids to gymnastics, that might be more important.
Do I feel like I had to deny myself? Not really. It actually makes me feel very powerful. I have goals, and I am making purposeful decisions to achieve them. It doesn’t feel like saying, “No,”—it feels like saying, “Yes” to something for more important and satisfying.
It is a subtle distinction, but one that completely changed budgeting for me.
What Motivates You Most Is A Motivator
My perception of budgeting went from something negative (prison, torture device, exercise in deprivation, shame and guilt) to something positive—a tool that gives me the power to protect and pursue the things that are most important to me.
I’m far more motivated to stick with a budget and make smart financial decisions, when my goals and dreams are what’s pushing me along. It’s not about what I’ll have to give up, it’s about what I will gain.
Your Budget Is Half Full
I still have a finite amount of money to spend every month. There are things I cannot afford, times when I have to say, “No.” But when I sit down to budget, I’m not thinking about all the things I don’t get to do, I’m focused on all the things my money can and will do.
My budget reminds me of my financial stability and a peace of mind I’d never known. My budget gives me control and makes me feel confident, dreaming and planning for the future. My budget—although it is often the reason I choose not to spend money—makes me feel like there is nothing I couldn’t have, as long as I make it a part of the plan.
So, don’t focus on the temporary sacrifices, focus on the big-picture gains. Saying no isn’t about denial, it’s about making the thing you really want to do, the places you dream of going, the purchases you wish you could make, a reality. Your budget is a glass half full proposition.