Budgeting for Adventures
Income can play a major role in how much money you have available for fun in your life, but unless you’re living below the poverty level the place to focus is on your expenses.
What is really important to you? What might you be able to do without? Not only will you have to learn to say No to the things you don't want, you'll have to say "No" to some things you do want.
Speaking as a mom of two young children (one in daycare!) I know how tough budgeting can be. Monthly childcare expenses alone are more than the mortgage on our house. I focus on what I’m willing to compromise on and that nice lady who ran a childcare in her dark, cat-urine filled basement for dirt cheap was not an option.
Instead, I DIY my daily cold brew coffee, pack leftovers for work and school lunches, shop thrift stores and consignment shops, and am driving a 14-year-old used car.
I even tried making my own deodorant and skin cream. Pro tip: while it may be fun, this didn’t save me much money in the long run.
When first sitting down to look at your expenses you can use your most recent credit card statements or home accounting software if you track it. Any expenses that you NEED to pay every month are your fixed expenses (rent, car payment, utilities) and those that you have the option to pay are variable (the WANTs).
Highlight all your variable costs in green. What category do they tend to fall into? Eat out too often? Have a love affair with shoes? Maybe you’re buying too much of the latest and greatest fancy gear at REI?
They say knowledge is power, and just being aware of where you spend your money is a great start. Begin to set some goals to lower your expenses in just one area and over time you'll gain some confidence that you are in control. Rein in your food budget. Then focus on your clothes/shoes/gear. Find the path that works for you.
You will likely mess up. And that’s ok. You can decide to live your life as a miser or find a comfortable space and live within your means. It takes practice (a lifetime, really) but you will realize the benefits of watching your spending when you reward yourself with the next big adventure.