Episode Transcript:

Welcome back to the Meadowsweet Money podcast. If you are tuning in for the first time, welcome!

My name is Mimi Cirbusova, a Certified Financial Education Instructor and shame-free money mentor. I’m here to walk alongside on your personal finance journey. And I think any journey is made a little bit easier with a friend.

Thanks for being here.

This year has been so…whew. It’s been a lot. It’s been a lot for all of us. Personally, I believe we are going through really historic times of enduring change. And it’s probably change that we need on a global, systemic level. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t all tired and probably a little scared too.

So it’s even more important that we spend money in ways that bring us joy, contentment, ease, and comfort. And I don’t mean that as like, hey, we should all be going out, living it up, and just spending every dime to chase all the dopamine that we can get. Joyful spending is not the antithesis of saving and investing. You can spend joyfully AND put money away for your future; even if the future seems really uncertain.

The purpose of today’s episode is to get a little clearer about budgeting for our joy; understanding what that really means, and how we can do more of it without derailing all our other goals. Before I dive too much into that, I want to mention here that the word “budgeting” might be giving you a visceral reaction. And that’s totally normal because budgeting has been portrayed as this restrictive, almost punishment.

But when I say “budgeting”, I simply mean a strategy for where your money is flowing and going. If you don’t personally like the word budgeting, I invite you to call it something else. A money map, a financial ecosystem, a spending game plan. You could call your budget Henrietta for all I care. What matters is that you put some thought into directing where your money is heading so that you can meet your needs and wants both now and in the future.

Ok, so how exactly do we budget for our joy? Well, there’s a few things that I think are important here. First, you have to know your real numbers. Back in episode 2, I talked briefly about the third foundational level of the money mountain, which is knowing your real numbers. What is your income, your fixed expenses, your debt, your savings and investments…all that stuff. Until you know your real numbers, you absolutely cannot budget for your joy.

And friend, I gotta say right here that you do not have to like your real numbers for them to be helpful to you. I spent a lot of time being criminally underpaid working for all the time I was working at nonprofit organizations, and honestly I’m still a little salty about it. But even in being underpaid, knowing my real numbers meant I could make savvier financial decisions. Even with very little to work with, I was able to find small ways to bring joyful spending into the mix.

So let’s talk about some things that help you to spend more joyfully.

First, in order to do more joyful spending, you gotta know what makes you happy. I will be the first to admit that I spent a lot of time and money on things that I thought *should* make me happy but absolutely did not. Things like clothes that were cute but not really my style, or didn’t really fit my body, or happy hours that ended up being less than happy. And I’m still sorting through cheap craft supplies that I got because hey, they’re on sale, and I’ll probably use this someday, right?

It’s important to recognize that you may not be able to budget for your joy all the time if your real numbers are limited, and that’s okay. I love getting my hair cut and colored professionally, but I have other spending priorities too. So I stretch it out a little bit. I can still have my purple hair color done professionally, but instead of going every 6 weeks, I go every 8 or 9 weeks. And I work pretty hard to maintain the color in between.

Another key here to budgeting joyfully is being brave enough to say no to the things that aren’t actually making you happy. And I don’t mean cutting out necessities here. Nobody loves paying rent. No; what I’m really talking about is being a little ruthless about spending money in ways that are regrettable or forgettable for you.

It’s turning down the third round of drinks when everyone else is celebrating, but you’d rather that $15 go towards dinner on your next vacation. It’s speaking up and saying you’re not splitting the bill equally when you only got a salad and water, while everyone else got entrees and appetizers. It’s checking your pantry before grocery shopping to make sure you don’t grab another bottle of soy sauce when there’s two unopened bottles on hand already.

And I’m not going to tell you that’s easy, particularly if you have a hard time saying no to people you care about.

I think the key to joyful budgeting, truly, is embracing the idea of, pardon the French, hell yes. Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (which, by the way, the teen version is so much better than the grown up version), Mr. Covey famously said, “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non apologetically, to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.”

Maybe you dream of quitting your job and taking a year off to explore the National Parks. Maybe you want to get scuba certified, or run in the Tokyo marathon, or finish your degree, or buy that small farm in the country to raise goats. Or maybe you just want to know what it feels like to wake up every morning without the burden of debt.

Joyful budgeting isn’t about denying yourself every small pleasure. I will never tell you to stop buying the bougie lattes if that’s what really brings you joy. For a good while, I was getting my nails professionally done probably every 2-3 weeks. And it made me feel so good about myself. I was a pretty bad nail biter as a kid.

But my priorities changed. The manicures didn’t give me the same satisfaction they once had. Suddenly that $700 a year meant more to me going toward my debt, and later toward my savings goals. Go and buy the lattes my friend if that’s your hell yes. But if it’s not, that’s okay too.

Your priorities, your values, these things change over time. Change is part of being human. The value I have around my health is far more prominent now than it was in my 20s, and my spending reflects that. I’m making sure I have money to cover getting my dental checkups, doctors visits, and eating higher quality foods.

Here’s the final thing I’m going to say, at least for today, about budgeting for your joy. Once you truly understand what matters to you in this season of your life. When you’re crystal clear on your values and your priorities, your budget no longer becomes a list of expenses, but instead a permission slip for your dreams and your values.

Anyway, I know there’s definitely more that can be said on this topic, and I’ll be sure to do another episode on this. But I want to move on to our next segment, “In Case You Missed It.”

Can you believe it’s already SEPTEMBER?! 2023 is just flying by it seems. We just wrapped on the supported virtual No Spend Challenge.

Now, again, if you did not get to join us this time around, no worries. I will be offering another No Spend Challenge in 2024, but I am trying to flesh out exactly what month that will be. So hang tight.

If you are signed up for the monthly e-newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when I announce those dates. And if you’re not signed up, why not?! There is a link in the show notes for you.

When you’re signed up for the email newsletter, you also get access to our monthly Tea Room, which is a cool virtual meetup where you can bring a cup of tea or coffee and we talk about money without shame or guilt. It’s a really cool space to just be yourself with some like-hearted people. With everything happening in the world, we all certainly need to be in community.

Now I want to switch gears real quick for our next segment, Easier and Better.

In this segment of the podcast, I like to share a little something that is making my life easier and better. This isn’t sponsored. This is just something that I am enjoying and might be helpful to you too.

I have talked about this on my Instagram stories before, but I am still so in love with the Mealime app. If you’re trying to meal plan, I would strongly recommend checking it out. A couple reasons I love it:

  1. I love that you can set your preferences and dietary needs and the app will only show you recipes that fit your criteria.
  2. Once you pick out your meals, it gives you a very easy and organized shopping list, which you can add your own items to as well. I usually do my grocery shopping with the Mealime app open and check things off as I put them in my cart.
  3. Each recipe has step by step instructions, and they even have cooking timers in the app for specific steps!
  4. I love that I can save my favorite recipes and go back to them again and again. Mealime even tells you how much food waste you have prevented from going into the trash because of their low-waste meal planning. I tend to select meals that use up ingredients I already have on hand, which also prevents food waste and saves me a ton of money at the grocery store.

I have been using Mealime off and on for about four years now, and it’s been such a lifesaver for us. I highly recommend giving it a try. There is a Pro version, but I have been able to do a ton using only the free version.

Full transparency, if you use the link in my show notes, Mealime will give me access to a bonus recipe, but that’s it. No other kickbacks…no other benefits. I just get an extra recipe. I just genuinely love their app. And they’re woman-owned! Which makes me love them even more. So check it out if you are looking for a really easy way to meal plan this fall.

Cool? Alright, let’s slow it down and settle in for our next segment.

Alright my friend, now is the portion of the podcast where I invite you to take a breath with me and let’s get mindful about our money.

For today’s mindful money moment, I want to talk about balance.

We’re all striving toward better balance in life.

We all want more balance between work and play and rest. We try to find an equilibrium of stuff in our homes, having enough of what we need and like in our physical spaces. We try to have the right proportions of time to share between your family, friends, and ourselves.

Friend, I am here to tell you that balance is not a state you can permanently achieve. As human beings, we are never truly still (until death anyway). Therefore, balance isn’t about finding that perfect point of exact stability and never changing or moving. To do so means we’re no longer alive. And so change is part of life!

Consider when you are trying to stand on one foot. If you are not driving or have the capability of doing so at this moment, you might want to actually try this out and stand on one foot. Otherwise, I invite you to visualize it.

Even once you have found “balance” and are successfully standing on one foot, bring your attention to the foot on the ground. You will notice that it is not static. It is not still. Your foot is continually making constant, tiny adjustments so you don’t fall over. And no matter how practiced you are, even the most well-balanced yoga instructor can get knocked over if, say, a football player came pummeling toward them.

Striking a balance in your finances (having enough for savings, fixed expenses, investments, and joyful spending), is much the same as finding balance while standing on one foot.

In some seasons of life, financial balance will come easy and you will only need to make small adjustments. Things like closely monitoring spending, or increasing your retirement contributions when you get a raise.

Other times, you may need to make very large adjustments to keep in balance (like cutting way back on take out to save more for a large vacation).

Then sometimes a large life circumstance could knock you completely over, and you may need to take time to dust yourself off a bit and work to find new footing. Like moving back in with your parents after a divorce to save up for an apartment.

The message here isn’t to stop striving for balance. Instead, focus your actions on where you most need to make adjustments and do the right amount of change to maintain your footing.

Finding equilibrium when you’ve been knocked over by a large storm is going to take longer than if you are simply responding to a light breeze…and that’s okay. Regardless of what adjustments you need to make to stay in financial balance, it’s a sign that you’re human and that you’re alive. And that, my friend, is worth celebrating.

Thanks for listening. You’re doing great, and I’m so proud of you.


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