21 Days to a Better Budget, Day 3: What If Money Wasn’t an Object?

What If Money Wasn't an Object?

Good morning! It’s Day 3 of the 21 Days to a Better Budget Challenge. I hope you’re still with me because yesterday, I laid on you the most tedious task of this whole process: Tracking your expenses.

Obviously tracking is not one of those one-and-done chores. It’s a daily maintenance kind of thing. Like flossing your teeth, or drinking your eight glasses of water.

If you have not been tracking your spending at all until now, yesterday was probably pretty eye opening. Or sobering. But we all do better when know better, so from now: Tracking for everyone!

For those of you who emailed to let me know that you are already tracking – Way.To.Go. You are ahead of the game in so many ways. Keep up the great work.

I know that yesterday’s homework assignment may have been kind of intense – especially if you are struggling with a spouse who is not yet on board with this crazy budgeting idea. So today I want to go a bit easier on you.

Today I want to ask you to contemplate a really fun question (at least I think it’s fun… then again, I think tracking my expenses can be fun, so maybe I’m not a good judge of fun).

Here’s what I want to ask you: If money was not an object, what would your life look like?

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So often I hear from readers and coaching clients the “I wishes”. You know, like: “I wish I could afford to save for retirement, but…”

“I wish we could pay off our debt, but…”

“I wish we could go on vacation, get a new sofa, send our kids to camp, but…”

Let’s pretend for a moment that there are no “buts”. In this pretend world, money isn’t an object. I’m not talking Bill-Gates-not-an-object, but normal-people-not-an-object. You’ve got enough money to meet all your basic needs and a little bit left over. Now it’s time to have fun. To dream.

In this not-an-object scenario, what three things would be different about your financial life?

Would you eliminate all your debt? Would you max out your kids’ college savings accounts? Would you drive a new (or less old) car? Would you travel more? Pay cash for your daughter’s wedding? Make more generous charitable contributions? Hire help around the house?

Maybe your vision is more modest. Maybe it’s a new pair of shoes.

Whatever it is, take a few minutes to really think: What three things would be different right now – if money wasn’t an object.

This is an excellent question to discuss with your spouse. Especially if he or she is reluctant about this whole budgeting thing. Take a step away from the stress of money and dream together about what your future could look like.

Now here’s the cool thing: If that dream is your destination, then the vehicle that is going to get you there is your budget.

No, having a budget and living according to that budget won’t suddenly double your income. But it will make every dollar you earn work that much harder for you. In fact, you may feel like you got a raise, even if not a penny more of income is coming home.

Are you in the sharing mood today? I’d love to hear about your three things. 

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  1. Eitan Greenholtz says

    Pay off our debts is definitely the first. Quit my job/work part time instead of full time and focus on school. And buy a new(er) car.

  2. Finish paying off our debt, switch to working part time, so the kids can be home with me part time, replace some furniture and other household items that it is really time to replace.

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