Budgeting without Sacrifices?

I find that if you want to see what the root human emotion is to an action, just test it on a child.  I wanted to test the word sacrifice and the common simple definition is ‘Giving up something valued’.   Let’s see, Jada seems to value this dolly she is holding.  Now if I come slowly and take this dolly away………….Oh……. Oh …….. not good.  Conclusion – we do not like making sacrifices.

Putting your family on a budget is often viewed as having to make sacrifices, and I guess if your budget has you giving up items you really value, then yes by definition it would be a sacrifice.  Our family has always lived on a fairly tight budget but we have never felt we really sacrificed much by doing so.  Quite the opposite actually as our ability to budget has given us opportunity to have what we really value the most including family experiences.

Some of my greatest achievements have been budget related.  An example of this is that I graduated from University debt free.   I had to put off moving out on my own and I had to work throughout my schooling which ultimately delayed my graduation, but it was important for me not to graduate into debt like so many do.  I continued to work for another year before marrying Lisa and departing on a 14 month honeymoon.  We did so much on this trip and experienced so much yet we also arrived home debt free and in a good position to start being ‘normal and responsible’ citizens.

One of the major reasons for our budgeting success is that we understand what we value the most and we allocate our money based on these values.  In our society there are so many options to spend your money on and sometimes I think it would be nice to have more money so I can have more stuff.  For example, I enjoy watching professional hockey (I am Canadian after all) and I will admit that the games are a lot better on a big screen high definition TV.  It is on my list and one day it may end up at the top of my list and therefore I will allocate money towards this purchase but right now there are many other things that I value more.  

Even though we have a good handle on what we value and usually make good purchasing choices, we still analyse our purchasing habits from time to time.  Due to the magnitude of the lifestyle change we are going through, and that we have essentially cut off our income source, we have analyzed this very closely.  This analysis can really open up opportunities; sometimes on what seems to be the smallest of purchases.

As an example I will pick on one of my least favourite things, coffee (Lisa hates it when I refer to coffee as watered down burnt beans).  A nice outing for Lisa away from the kids is a stroll down to the local coffee shop to have a nice fancy coffee.  If she is having a hectic day and needs some down time apparently a ‘delicious’ coffee prepared for her is a good escape and calms the nerves.  Sounds reasonable to me and if it does have the desired effect of rejuvenation then I can seeing valuing that cup of coffee enough to cover the $4.50.  If Lisa were to do this once a week, every week, than it would cost little over a $230 a year.  I can see this being a justified expense and the relative infrequency will maintain the desired effect.   Adding another weekly fancy coffee will increase the cost by another $230 annually and if Lisa were to decide that she needs the same coffee daily than the hit to the budget would now be over $1600 a year.  I would also argue that the desired effect of that rejuvenating cup of coffee would now be diminished.  Luckily for us Lisa prefers to allocate some of those funds to other things, like clothes for the kids.

We will regularly be looking at budgeting at FamilyNavigation.com and money saving ideas will be discussed in a regular cost comparison feature (look for the first one soon).   We are all about creating incredible life experiences and having a well rounded family lifestyle. Some of the goals we have for our family sound great but they also sound pretty hard to obtain.  I feel however that we will be able to obtain many of these goals as we value them highly and have little problem with not spending money on luxuries we do not value very much.  Many people can tell you what kind of lifestyle they would like to live but are unsure how to obtain it or feel it is not obtainable at all.  In order to obtain the lifestyle that is important to you, realistic budgeting is an essential part of making the transition.    If you want it bad enough then you will not be making sacrifices as the end result will have more value than anything you gave up.   At this moment I value getting out of the doghouse so I am off to the local coffee shop.

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