Money Management

A goal-oriented lifestyle by design

By  Taylor Boucher

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I used to create my budget by itemizing all of my expenses, totaling them, and then seeing what’s left. I thought that saving money just meant taking that remainder and putting it aside.

Every year, I’d update my budget. And, if I got a raise that year, it’d cover the rising prices of food or rent. I’d make sure I was saving, but my savings rate became stagnant.

Money ping pong

I managed to have an emergency fund, but I found myself replacing it often. An unexpected car repair or a medical expense. It became a game of ping pong, where I’d ping some money into savings, and it’d pong right back to me.

Until, either my patience wore thin enough, or my goals got inspiring enough. In either case, I decided to change the paradigm.

I would design the lifestyle I wanted, and then create my budget to suit.

In full disclosure, my original goal of being financially independent within five years didn’t pan out. I couldn’t get the math to work. So admittedly, there are limitations. But, I was able to work it out within ten years, and that’s exciting.

Designing a new lifestyle

I started by really understanding my growth goals and not just financial ones. There were other things I valued as much as money like travel, healthy eating, and education.

Then I went to work on designing my new lifestyle.

Imagine an epic game of tug of war. There was only so much rope, or money in this case, to go around. If I pulled on the rope for a Parisian holiday, then my sneaker collection had to give way.

Giving things up was hard. Though, I’m not even sure how I wound up with a sneaker collection budget in the first place. But, I was making conscious decisions about what I wanted, not letting them sneak into my life uninvited.

I learned that if you don’t make decisions, then life will make decisions for you.

Eventually, I had it. A budget that was purposeful and represented the lifestyle I wanted and could afford. I would be financially independent in ten years, eat healthily throughout, and travel twice a year, once for vacation and once for education.

As for trade-offs, my sneaker budget went away, my housing expenses lowered, and my old car would need to stick around. Obviously, there is a bit more to it, but the point is, being purposeful.

I got to make every choice, decide on every trade-off, with my goals in mind. No longer saving what is left after spending, I now have a goal-oriented lifestyle, by design.

What would your budget look like if you designed it with your goals in mind?

Disclaimer: To make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.