fall my two-year-old and I signed up for Mommy & Me gymnastics classes. As we began attending the classes and she started learning some basic
gymnastic skills, I was surprised by how adept she was at the balance beam.
Usually, being a two-year-old, her balance leaves a lot to be desired, but once
she gets up on that balance beam, she just holds on to my pinky with one hand
and scoots right along.
Her only downfall (literally) is when she loses focus
on the end of the beam. Once she looks down at the beam or at one of the other
children practicing another skill on the floor, she immediately begins to
wobble and lose her balance.
day as she was scooting along holding my pinky, I started thinking about how
much living life on a budget is like walking on a balance beam: there is not
much room for error, and distraction can lead to disaster and frustration. But I
have also realized if you practice and start to get comfortable up there,
not only can you stay on, but you can make it a thing of beauty.
on a budget can be difficult–much like walking on that balance beam. We have only a few inches on which to
keep our footing, and if you try to pretend there’s an extra inch or two, you
can completely miss your mark, lose your balance, and fall.
Up there on the
budget balance beam, it is tempting to focus on the restrictions. It is
tempting to stare down at the narrow beam and at the long drop on either side,
to wish for money you don’t have, and gripe about a small paycheck. But once
you start focusing on the limitations, you begin to lose sight of the goal.
most, the ultimate goal is to someday have a little more wiggle room, so that
the balancing act isn’t so hard. When you keep your eyes up and focus only on
that end result–the dismount–you can keep your balance and put one foot in
front of the other.
fatal distraction can happen when you start looking around at everyone else who
isn’t walking the budget balance beam. They may be bounding across the floor doing
their tumbling or soaring through the air on the uneven bars.
If all you do is
watch them, you will long to jump off the beam and run out onto the floor. In the process,
your focus on the end of the beam will be lost and you will fall. If you want
to reach your ultimate goal, then that goal is where your focus needs to be–not on the financial situations of those around you.
all walk the beam differently; there are some people who, like my two-year-old,
gingerly scoot across the budget beam, somewhat unbalanced at times, nearly
falling off once or twice before dismounting. But there are others who see the
tumblers flipping and twirling across the floor and rather than be discouraged,
they are inspired. They see the beam not as a limitation, but as an opportunity
to test their skills and do amazing things.
Granted, they can’t leap and bound
with the same freedom of those on the floor, but in their own way, up on that
balance beam, they can turn their balancing act into a
beautiful and graceful
gymnastics show, just as remarkable as those on the floor, even with only a few
inches on either side to work with. Time after
time, cartwheel after flip, they nail the beam and come up with arms
outstretched, smiling triumphantly.
what are the financial life lessons I learned from the balance beam? Don’t look
down, don’t compare your financial situation with those of the people
around you, and keep your eye on the ultimate goal: financial freedom. Remember, too,
that sometimes it’s not just about staying on–it’s about making the most of
the journey, about exercising your creativity, and finding real joy in your
beautiful thrifty life.
stay-at-home mother of 2 living in Richmond, Virginia. She celebrates the fact that the most beautiful things in life don't cost
money and blogs at The Beautiful Thrifty Life.