Dealing with money and budgeting can be extremely stressful, irritating, depressing, and can be a task we don’t enjoy. However, it isn’t making a budget that is depressing – it is the action around money that we wish was different. It’s the holding onto a vision in our minds that isn’t happening in reality. As humans, we resent anything that doesn’t fulfill our personal vision of what we want.
It’s also usually not because we have a difficult or impossible task to accomplish with out money that stresses us out – it’s our reaction to the needs that our budget entails. A budget is just a list of spending that needs to be done. A list is harmless. But when we hold onto the idea that we are something we’re not, and that we have to deal with that, we become stressed because we can’t handle it all. We can only be who we are – especially financially.
So what’s the solution? It’s acceptance.
This is the zen of budgeting.
Learning to Accept
When you learn to let go of these ideas of how things should be, then the problems of budgeting go away. They simply don’t exist.
There will still be other problems, of course – you still need to do the work and make a budget that balances and works for your family. But the feels of frustration, stress, anger – those all all caused by our minds. We also hold onto things that happened earlier in our lives – maybe we had a better paying job, lived in a bigger house, or drove a nicer car – and of course this only compounds the pain.
But learning to accept your current situation allows the problems to disappear.
It’s that simple, but acceptance isn’t always easy.
It’s a learning process. You first need to see what is causing you pain and stress, and then you need to delve into what is causing you to feel that way. But figuring out what is stressing you allows you to be mindful of it, and being mindful can allow you to return to the moment and accept the present.
The Zen of Budgeting
Acceptance takes practice. I suggest you practice being mindful of your situation. Start simply, 5 minutes of assessing your family, your work, and your material possessions. Decide your priorities. Look at your budget. See where you don’t balance, and bring the mindfulness to tasks that will help you align it. By letting go of the past, you can focus on the present.
It is possible for everyone to spend less than they earn, save, and still live a happy and fulfilled life.
What challenges do you face in balancing your budget?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.