Guest post by Lauren Bonk
The fact that you’re reading this means you’re part of an army. An enormous, world-wide army of people who want to be wise stewards of their money.
Each of us wields our own weapons: Some carry scissors to cut coupons, others have hawk-like eyes that can spot a deal a mile away. I, personally, arm myself with a budget.
There are symptoms that go hand-in-hand with a long battle. It’s amazing, but when we fight long and hard enough, it’s not uncommon to forget exactly what it is we’re fighting for. Fortunately, the antidote to our affliction can be found in a pretty simple word — hope.
Hope is essential, but requires maintenance and tending. That can be hard to pull off when you’re drowning in financial difficulties or setbacks. Our family has only been budgeting for six months, but it’s been long enough to learn some tricks to help keep our hope afloat.
1. Keep your goals visible.
Literally. Sure, you can say, “Hey, honey, remember, only a few more years of this and we’ll be in Greece!” Sometimes, though, words just don’t cut it. We have a “Greece Fund” piggy bank. Every time we drop in our change, we’re reminded of the vacation we can’t wait to take.
Ask yourself, “Why?” Why are you working so hard? Find your answer and make it tangible.
Are you working toward financial freedom? Try stenciling the word FREEDOM on something decorative and hanging it above your sink — or whatever it takes to give you a little dose of hope.
2. Allow rewards.
Anyone who’s worked in a thankless job knows how effective a reward can be. Rewards not only make you smile, but also give you a little taste of the ultimate goal.
What is the perfect reward for you? We allow for a “date night” column in our budget spreadsheet. I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to indulge ourselves without worrying about our bank accounts.
Maybe ice cream, a new pair of shoes, or a long-awaited CD is what you need. No matter what you choose, rewarding yourself every once in awhile will be good for your morale (and your soul!).
3. Appreciate Progress.
This may be the most important one. It can be daunting to look at the big picture and sometimes we need to narrow our focus.
If you’ve only been budgeting for two weeks, don’t look at how far you have to go to reach your goals, look at how much progress you’ve made already. In this instance, the simple act of knowing exactly how much money you have in your account can be a huge accomplishment; I know it was for us.
We’re only human, friends, and we can’t accomplish all our goals in one day. Take a look at the progress you’ve made, and allow yourself to feel good about it.
Do you have any other great ideas for nurturing hope? Remember, we’re all fighting on the same team, and we’ve got to stick together.
Lauren Bonk is a certified baby wrangler, word enthusiast, and scatter-brain extraordinaire. She owns fifteen copies of Wuthering Heights and happily resides with her family in Nebraska. Read about her budgeting endeavors, food obsession, and mostly-chipper musings at LaurenBonk.com.