Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saving the Moola: busy seasons require grace + leniency for your budget

photo credit
It isn't often that Jason and I decide to completely chuck the budget. In fact, before May, it had never, ever happened before.

We found ourselves in a situation we hadn't really found ourselves in before. We both were crazy busy at work at the same time that we were seriously overhauling our personal lives. What we were doing in our personal lives was eating up a huge chunk of our time outside of work.

We found ourselves being forced to make decisions we weren't prepared to make. When do we say "no" to our day jobs? When do we say "no" to our personal lives and the good, albeit time consuming activities we're doing to strengthen them?

Money definitely doesn't buy happiness, but it sure can make life easier. We both weren't willing to say no to our day jobs or to ourselves at that time. The only thing that could make our lives even livable, then, would be to not worry about the budget.

This meant we spent quite a bit of money eating food prepared outside of our home. This meant that we stopped hand washing our clothes for awhile and paid to use a communal washer and dryer in our apartment building. This meant that we didn't plan our trips outside of the house to fit everything into one trip. If we forgot to do something or something came up, we just drove the car anyway instead of going without.

Not having a budget is never a good thing, even in busy seasons of life. But you have to give yourself grace and leniency to save your sanity and ultimately, to save your budget.

When I shared with Jason that when I did something, it felt good but I always felt sick afterward, he told me I had trained my brain to not be happy when I did this thing and I was making myself sick.

When we chucked the budget, it didn't feel good. In fact, I felt pretty sick to my stomach. I so believed that not being on a budget was a horrible thing... such a horrible thing that I was making myself sick.

I kept trying to find a way that we could have it all - a clean house, overtime for our day jobs, writing for this blog, volunteering, attending church services, nine hours of sleep per night, playing badminton. I didn't want to believe we couldn't have it all.

But in the end, we really couldn't and stick to our budget. And instead of continuing to make myself sick over it, I accepted it. I accepted that our lives were too busy and if spending money meant we could keep up with everything, I was willing to do that.

One night, near the end of May, we went on a date night to one of our favorite restaurants. We hadn't been there in months {we haven't been to many restaurants in months!}. We took money that was earmarked for paying down our debt. We drove to the restaurant. We ordered our meals and even sodas {!}.

We had the loveliest time. Even though we both work from home primarily, it doesn't mean we're spending quality time together. This was a chance for us to spend real quality time together.

We laughed, we talked, we prayed, we shared stories. The time together completely refreshed us. When we came back home, we were ready to jump back into our busy season of life because we had allowed ourselves the luxury of a couple of interrupted hours together, sharing a meal that was prepared by someone else's hands {and allowing someone else to clean up the dishes}.

Now that May is over and the budget has fallen where it has, I don't regret a single minute of it. When the next busy season comes around {like ahem, right now}, we may not make the same decisions, and in fact, we haven't. But for May, it was absolutely the right decision to accept that money could fix most of our problems.

Perhaps what made May all the better was that we ended up completely paying off one of two student loans we have. Even with chucking the budget and spending money that was earmarked for paying off my student loans even faster, we still made incredible progress on our goals. In fact, with all the extra hours we worked at our day jobs, we even came out ahead!

Don't beat yourself up when you order a pizza instead of cooking from scratch. If hiring a housekeeper saves you time and your sanity, do it.

And the biggest lesson in all of this: Accept that there is a plan in store for you that may not exactly line up with the plan you've designed for yourself. Perhaps the plan in store for you is even better than the one you have. Whatever you've dreamed up, the Dreamer dreams bigger + better. Allow Him to have ultimate control over your life. Honor and serve Him, and I promise He has things in store for you you couldn't have dreamed of if you tried.


Carlye Jean Rankin said...

So awesome you were able to pay off 2 loans! We didn't follow a budget this month and it was kinda of nice but now I am ready to get back into the norm. Also, we are going to have a spending fast for the month of July. Stay tuned for our progress!

Jess and Jason said...

That sounds like a great idea, Carlye! I've never done a spending fast, but I have always wanted to. I will definitely check your blog to read about your progress.