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Budgeting for Freedom
Member Name: Trishajs
Advantages: It doesn't buy happiness - but it can buy freedom
Disadvantages: Saving takes ages- spending is in the wink of an eye
For years I lived in a small flat spending within my means, whilst work colleagues had larger houses and regular changes of wardrobe and generally a much higher standard of living. Along came the the credit crunch and for some jobs were lost and for others overtime was scarce, the ability to borrow more money to fund their lifestyles was gone. With the value of their properties falling, suddenly they have had to face reality and are envious that I have no mortgage, no credit card debts and have savings to support myself through these times.
They now worry about the future as the equity in their homes has not only decreased, but also the prospect of equity increasing in the future to fund their retirement looks very unlikely. Sadder still is observing their obvious difficulty when trying to cope with their drop in living standards, they are simply not used to watching what they spend. I am getting a little tired of being told how lucky I am, which makes me think that they still haven't got the message.
But my hope is that it isn't to late for many readers to make a change to their financial life and realize that even if budgeting takes you an hour a week, an hour that you would rather be spending in the wine bar or having a lie in, it is time well spent. As for those designer shoes or the latest hi tech gadget, think about it , why do you want to pay the card companies interest rather than keeping the money for yourself? Every paycheck I receive is allocated in my budget spreadsheet- month's money, household bills, holidays, clothes, savings etc; etc. All credit, debit card and cash expenditure deducted from the relevant column. They used to think I was crazy, their attitude was if they had money, they would spend it and that included their credit card spending limits and any mortgage amount that the bank would allow them.
I admit that there have been times that I felt that I was missing out by being so budget minded, but now I feel completely exonerated and being financially stress free is the reward that makes the effort worthwhile.
One tip I have always found useful is to work out how much you take home per hour of work and then when you feel like buying a non essential item- work it out in hours - do you really want to have had to go to work for an hour to buy a dvd that you will only watch once? Or an hour and a half to get a more than you can eat takeaway? One colleague worked out that the money she spent each week by buying lunch rather than bringing in packed lunches, together with the money for coffees, breakfast muffins and magazines cost her a whole day's pay every week.
I never economize on food, but I will do on other items bought in the supermarket like kitchen paper and toilet roll, I have watched the faces of others in the queue as I wait to pay for my basic brands, and notice that many feel superior as they can afford the branded items, but I couldn't care less, feeling that the absence of an overdraft has the last laugh.
When you are out shopping don't say to yourself-"I can't afford it", that can make you feel hard done by, but saying "I can afford it, but I choose not to" is a much more satisfactory feeling.
My instinct always told me that time and quality of life were the riches I wanted and I have not been proved wrong yet.
With my mortgage paid, my retirement fund at an acceptable level and with no debts, I have been able to leave a very demanding and stressful job and to move to lower paid employment that offers me flexibility. I may not own any designer handbags, but the change in my life is priceless.
If you would rather be doing something else other than working in your current job, remember your spending is the entrance fee to the treadmill ride and your savings are the key that stops the ride and enables you to get off.
Your new happiness awaits- the journey may take many years depending on where you are now- but you will arrive if you take the steps in the right direction.
Summary: If you were told you were dying- would your first priority be to fit a new carpet?