We all want to live life to the fullest. Honestly, how weird would it be if you met someone and they said, “Yeah, I would love to live life to like the 60th percentile and that’s it.” Nobody does that, and for good reason. We all seem to know intrinsically that our resources are limited and that we need to use those resources well to create meaning, difference, happiness, and all of the other things that bring value and quality to a life well lived.
It is no big stretch for us to see how time and money are both tied to happiness. They are both limited resources that directly impact our autonomy and freedom of choice for how to live our lives. Someone with a billion dollars is still limited when they find out that they are terminally ill and have only months to live. Conversely, someone is also limited when they are young and in perfect health, but they are being crushed by debt with no clear way out. That is why we are going to talk about the two big, bad “B” words.
The two big, bad “B” words we are going to talk about are Budgets and Boundaries. Something we hope to help illuminate for you is that both of these things actually have the ability to empower you to live a full, happy life. In the most technical terms, a budget is truly just a specialized boundary that is typically associated with money or time. Boundaries, in the simplest sense, separate two or more things from each other in a helpful way.
When I was seven years old, my family moved into a newly built home. The developers were building the neighborhood street by street, from the front of the neighborhood to the back, and we happened to be on the first street. As seven and five-year-old little boys, my brother and I spent every possible moment we could outside. Naturally curious, we would wander towards the construction sites of the new homes on the next street behind our house. Like clockwork, one of our parents would step out onto the back porch and yell at us for leaving our yard and going towards the under-construction homes.
When we hustled back to the safety of our little yard, we would get another lesson about how construction zones are dangerous and how we could have stepped on a nail or some broken glass. Unsurprisingly, these lessons did not sink in very far and we would repeat this dance every day or so until finally, my parents put up a 6-foot tall fence in our backyard. I quickly found myself enjoying time outside more than I ever had before and I realized that it was because I was not getting yelled at every day for putting myself in danger. The boundary my parents put up, in this case a fence, was keeping me safe and giving me the freedom to play to my heart’s content and enjoy being outside more than I had before. This is what boundaries do at their best.
When it comes to our time and to our money, it is crucially important to set ourselves up for success in setting healthy boundaries, aka budgets, for these two areas of life.
Regarding time, we need to delegate where our time is being spent. It is unrealistic to think that you could budget every moment of every day, but it is realistic to budget for the things that are important to you. In this sense, your budget could take the form of a list of priorities/strategies for using your time well. For the average person, your time budget might look something like this:
Just these four simple steps would help this person lessen distraction, develop relationships, care for their inner world, and create peace in their space.
When it comes to money, we need to take a similar approach to ensure that we are using our money in the ways that we truly want to, not in the ways we default to without deeper consideration. How you budget will vary widely based on life circumstances, but there are a few benefits that come from all effective budgets:
A good budget takes away anxiety and uncertainty, giving you the peace, stability, and freedom to pursue the things that truly make you happy. Now go out there and crush it, we know you can!