Newsflash: Your Future Wants You To Budget

May 23, 2017

So I had this thought the other day when I was thinking about budgeting. Me? Thinking about budgeting? Wild, I know. Anyway, I was thinking about the main reasons I recommend people budget and why they’re going to like it.

Here are some of the joys ahead if you'll give budgeting this way a shot:

– You'll make the dreams in your life come true or have them be finally financially possible.

– You'll remove loads of stress and worry over money.

– You'll be free to make more choices about your life – where you live, work, travel, etc.

– You'll be able to spend guilt-free.

All these reasons remain true—seriously, so true. It is so worthwhile to identify a goal, map out how (and how quickly) you are going to get there and then manage your money to make it happen. Lest you worry I’m quitting my principles, I firmly still believe all the above reasons and still totally recommend you carry on and make a plan for those dreams. March on!

But here’s my new, additional thought about why you might consider doing something different with your money:

What if there is a really cool, surprising, exciting thing in your future that you can only capitalize on IF you’re financially ready? Adopting a baby, buying that house that’s big enough for your family, taking the life-changing, spontaneous trip that your mom’s friend’s coworker’s cousin pitches, starting a (random – optional) business, buying land, helping refugees, traveling around the world on a sailboat for 3 months. Basically, imagine that there is some GREAT thing still unthought of but definitely ahead of you in your life (there is!) and if you KNEW about it, you would know that it’s worth changing making a plan (budget) and living by it today in order to be prepared for it.

Technically, sailing scares me. The idea, however, of living on a boat for a duration of time and especially seeing the world via it is rather exotic.

I know, I know, there might be some skeptics that say “I’ll just finance the cost of that future cool thing.” And yes, that may technically be an option. But I think you’ll agree with me that if you put Cool Opportunity on a credit card or strap yourself to a mortgage you really can’t afford (when the dream house comes along before you were financially ready) you are totally jeopardizing the NEXT happy surprise or possibly many and building on a pretty precarious foundation.

Debt has this incredible way of catching up with you sometime. It really does. Because life and unexpected events happen. Coincidentally, the above tactic of making a spending plan and living by it to be prepared also helps with something else. Ready for it? It’s the hard surprises. Technically, we call these events “trials” or “adversity” but they’re still in the surprise category. Being prepared for them makes them anywhere from “a little” to “way less” hard.

A story with an analogy since I know you’ll be sad without one:

When I was 17, I went to Europe with my cousin and her friend. It was incredible. Even at that generally clueless age, I really appreciated the scenery of England and Switzerland as well as the history of England. Switzerland was absolutely gorgeous, but there wasn’t a ton of history to capture a teenager’s imagination, like the castles and murders and marriages and wars of England. Mostly I remember being hungry in Switzerland.

There we were: three preteen girls staying with a lovely, young, hip, engaged couple who were extremely gracious but who smoked. A lot. So did, it seemed, everyone else including a lot of the teenagers. That and wear black. But whatever. Our hosts smoked heavily and thus had the appetites of birds. And we were too culture-shocked and shy to ask for more food.

One day we figured out how to take the train into Zurich for the express purpose of finding food. Lots of it. And we did. I remember spending something like the equivalent of $11 for a Big Mac meal; it was worth every penny or fraction of a franc or whatever for the so many calories.

Wow! Have I digressed! The entire point of bringing up this trip was to highlight the fact that I needed to get a passport to go on that trip. So I got one, used it several years later for a trip to Brazil, and then accidentally let it expire.

Fast-forward to 2017:

I have been passport-less since it expired in 2007. I’ve been planning on getting a new one because there continues to be a whole wide world out there. Three weeks ago I finally stopped waiting and just this past weekend received my shiny, new passport. I had (and still have as of the time of writing) no concrete plans to travel abroad but I will definitely be going somewhere this year. International travel is again an option. {And yes, Skeptic, technically I could have applied for an expedited passport if something had come up but what if the trip-of-a-lifetime had been TODAY? What then, huh??:}

In the same way, being financially fit is like having a passport to the things/adventures/surprises that life is going to bring to your doorstep.

If you’ve been wise and gotten your money on purpose you can fling the door wide open and say “HECK YES! I’M IN!” Budgeting and living by a financial plan even just for the things you can already see and the dreams already in your heart have this way of helping you achieve both them and be prepared for future surprises. That is what we in the biz, call a win-win. So go forth and win. Now AND then. And if you have foreign travel plans lemme know – I have a passport and am heck-yes-ready.