Thinking about keys to a successful budget~ouch! what a dirty word this USED to be in my life, I began considering what it really takes to tame the money monster that seeks to destroy us from the inside out!
One prevailing theme I see as people, myself included struggle to stay within a set orderly spending pattern is the lack of patience with the need for immediate gratification. As mothers and daddys we work tirelessly to teach our children to wait, to take their turns and to know that later is not a dirty word to deny them of their wants and needs but a necessary trait to better living. Fortunately as adults we can recognize that patience and delaying gratification often will bring a greater reward than if immediate actions are taken to jump and obtain, move or in this discussion~SPEND!
When our kids were little, a trip to the store was fraught with requests from them UNTIL I got smart~oh yeah! I found that IF I held firm to denying their repeated nagging requests for stuff that soon they quit, and then at a later time I could reward their quiet polite behavior with a treat~but trust me THIS did not occur at the checkout line. Oh, no way, because if it had, my kiddies would have howled as soon as I didn't purchase something for them from the checkout aisle EVERYTIME~so I waited again, and often they did not receive treats for their good behavior, but were praised and thanked. I know it's easy to give a buggy-riding toddler a toy to hold as a reward for their cooperation while mom goes about her shoppingm and then to purchase the toy for the child at the end~but what are we actually teaching? I believe it's "you be good and I will reward you. . ." which isn't all bad, but think of a day you may not have the money or time to adequately reward then that day. You could have a howling kid on your hands, and this is miserable! Teaching delayed gratification and patience by talking to your child and praising him~bring along his favorite toy from home (just be sure that the store understands it IS your child's toy from home!) and reward with things intangible.
I would like to translate the idea of delayed gratification to us who are bombarded with all sorts of ads and marketing just screaming for our money. I have read so many times and even heard it said that television is a terrible culprit in marketing for children~Oh I remember Saturday morning cartoons with all the toy commercials and my own begging~truly begging for some of that JUNK! I can call it junk now because in many instances the toy was not quite as much fun as the kids had on the commercial were having. Isn't this just like what we have today too? Have you ever ordered something off one of those shopper channels or the web to get it home and be disappointed? Claims made and shown are not always what they seem! Yet marketing and selling is all around us~even the advent of "networking" is a form of marketing. Oh I don't condem it all, it's just that I NEED to be in control of my money and recognizing who my friends and family are serve me so much better than all my "friends" who want my money~even for a good product that I may not be able to afford. Some things I can live without, but others are essentials. Marketing is good to give us information, but we must beware not to be taken in by methods that ultimately rob us of not just our money, but gives us all that comes with not having it!
Delayed gratification and patience must be exercised despite compelling marketing or desires for whatever it is~high end or lower end, it really doesn't matter. All rooted in discontentment and unweildy desire, the lack of patience and delayed gratification will not serve us well or bring greater rewards other than the item or service that called on us for our money. And these will fade with time's passing or rust in age and corruption diming the joy once held for them!
But delaying gratification and exercising patience can bring a real sense of accomplishment. When I have to wait for something, first I know that when I get it, I really really wanted it. Then because I really really wanted it, I really really enjoy it! What a great feeling when the longed for (you name it) arrives in our lives! I made it/did it/got it/! It's a real celebration when longing, accompanied by desire was bridled by delay and patience.
Since so much wants my few shekels out of my pockets, I have to be really choosy over what and how I let them go. I can't just take that stroll down the aisle of shopper dreams and pick up this and that~not anymore! There was a day I had way more 'disposable' income in my life~do you remember those days, BC-before kids?? Well, it could be not just kiddos who have placed economic stressors, but this terrible economy. Today folks are working at jobs paying less, but thankful to be working. Outsourcing, job cuts, downsizing, and all manner of ilk can take a nice income right on down the drain to bring stresses and strains. No more extras, and sometimes not even enough to do the basics. But when this situation happens, exercising patience and delayed gratification can help get us by.
If you want to really truly double dog daringly ATTACK your spending habits and seek a thrifty lifestyle, then consider these priorities in your budget:
First things first~pay the mortgage or rent~you need a roof to sleep under. Then pay utilities: lights, water, gas, and such~notice though I didn't mention cable and internet as utilities. They are actually intertainment. We will get there~
and then I add on things like clothing, entertainment and extras like stuff. . .
Why the top four first? Because you HAVE to have a place to sleep and a way to power it, something to eat and if you need meds, your health is something you have to maintain.
But what about clothing you might be asking? I have YET to see someone who is economically disadvantaged without clothes. Right now, and this could change IF the economy continues to decline and if so, I will address it then, but for now, clothing is something that you can get very very inexpensively at garage sales and thrift shops and even off the sale racks~just remember not to spend $50 to save $10. That's not economizing! You are kidding yourself if you think it is, and unfortunately THIS is a huge reason I am writing on this subject. So many economizers want you to either purchase their product to line their purses (MAKE them rich), and or offer ideas that really cost as much or more than if we were really cutting back with patience and restraint with delayed gratification.
An example of this is in cooking. What good are recipies with expensive ingredients, often in the form of mixes and canned/jared goods when homemade is cheaper and a whole lot healthier? Food producers all have websites offering recipies just for the looking that will incorporate their products as essential ingredients, and there are websites using whole foods too like self rising flour, milk, eggs, yeast, baking soda, vanilla, garlic, onions. . . .on and on. . .to make products that once were not sold prepackaged. Did you know that our American taste buds are conditioned by the foods of our society? Try your best to make a homemade burger (you know~ground beef from the grocer~or home ground from the beef from the farmer) TASTE like those at your local fast food joint. IMPOSSIBLE! INCONCEIVABLE! You can't do it and neither can I. What they do and how they do it is perhaps some of those industries best kept secrets~the taste is their trademark, and I imagine well protected. So it's a matter of taste and valuing where foods are concerned. Health plays a role too, but since I am discussing budget today, it may be more costly in the short run to purchase fresh fruits and veggies, real butter and fresh milk and the like, but in the long run. . .Oh my~what a difference to our health! Health equals better finances too~less medical bills is always a good thing!
Patience, delayed gratification are keys to taming the money monster~while not always "fun" at the time, looking a head will pay off later in a sounder economic future!
Next time I will discuss tips I've used on HOW to delay gratification in spending and patience to get what you need and want.