There are things I have decided that I absolutely need. I need a pair of jean capris for summer weekends. I need a bigger memory card for my camera. I need a new pair of driving sunglasses.
Some would argue, I’m sure, that these are not necessarily needs as much as wants, but that, friends, is an argument for another day. The point is, that, these are things I will have in my possession sometime soon, unlike that whole J.Crew trenchcoat and those black pumps made by someone who starts with a J and ends with an O and has an immy cho in the middle. Those things will not be mine. Because they don’t fit in my budget.
Yes. Budget. I have one. A big one.
My life changed right around two years ago when the husband and I sat down to talk about
money our needs and our wants. There were things that we really wanted to have, like the new house in which we now live. But that was impossible if we continued to spend money the way that we were. And, it wasn’t like we lived some sort of lavish lifestyle, it was just that we were sort of irresponsible when it came to spending. If I wanted to go to Starbucks four times a week, I did. If I wanted to get my hair cut and colored, I did. If I wanted to buy a new trenchcoat, I did. And if I wanted to stop at Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some tampons, I did, and walked out with a receipt for $190 for all the gum and books and shampoo and headbands and lipgloss that I absolutely had to have.
So, we sat down in front of a spreadsheet and divided it into three parts. Needs. Wants. Savings. The first column contained our absolute expenses each month – car payments, mortgage payments, hydro bills, tuition etc. The second column contained things we wanted. XX amount of dollars to be spent on food, xx amount of dollars to be spent on the kids, xx amount of dollars to be spend on things for me, etc. Each of these has a maximum amount, and once it has been spent each month, it has been spent.
And for the first time ever, The Martells were adding numbers to the third column, savings. Instead of borrowing money each month from the bank, we were finding ourselves not only debt-free, but actually saving money.
It’s possible that in doing so, we also saved our marriage. It’s possible.
For the first time in my life, I have an appreciation for every dollar that we earn. For the first time in my life, I walk into Shoppers Drug Mart and buy exactly what I went there to buy. I am making wise choices, and at the same time, I really don’t feel like I am living without. I do get to buy the things I need. When June comes around, I will have my xx amount of money to buy the capris and the memory card and the sunglasses, and I will still have money left to spare.
So, even though I’m not buying any Jimmy Choos, and I will wear my Old Navy trenchcoat through the rest of the rainy season, it’s 1000% percent worth it. Because when our roof goes or the air conditioning in the van goes or when we decide to buy some artwork for our living room, we won’t cry or panic or worry…we will just pay. And we will feel good about it. Which feels almost as good as an amazing pair of shoes.