I am by no means a budgeting or finance expert. I have not accomplished all my financial goals and the amount of student debt I carry around is terrifying. However, the last few years I’ve focused on balancing the need for smart, responsible financal decisions with living the life I want to be living in the moment.
If I want to have a life that includes deep, meaningful spiritual teachings, rich community experiences, and pay down my student debt, I have to make some smart choices when it comes to financial choices. Ideally, I put all extra money in my budget towards reducing debt. Right now I put about 20% of my monthly income towards debt. This amount makes it easier to budget a small amount out for fun things every month and my other savings goals. For instance, I spent over a year saving for a new bike which I needed desperately. My older bike had tons of expensive repairs and is my main form of transportation. Patience isn’t my strong suit but only saving a small amount each month makes it easier to save and feel like I’m living the life I want to be.
I also take advantage of “extra” money. Sometimes, this comes in the form of plasma donations. I can make up to $50 a week if I give plasma twice a week. However, this is sort of hard on your body long term and takes quite a bit of time. I have also gotten a tax return every year since filing taxes. I’m young, don’t own property, and don’t make a sizable yearly income. I recognize that I am lucky in that regard. This tax return gets used in two ways. First, I take as hefty of a sum out of it as I can to put a large payment towards reducing debt. It feels so awesome to do that at the beginning of the year. It builds momentum for making payments the rest of the year. The leftover funds then get used for enrichment investments.
Enrichment investments are the projects and things that will help me accomplish my deeper goals in my life. This year I’ll probably use some of my “extra” money for the Ovate course from OBOD. I want to continue in my Druidry studies. Having a formatted and supported course is a great way to accomplish this. It’s a great investment in myself. I’ll also put aside some of this for my garden. I work in two community gardens, both of which have plot fees. Working out in the garden week after week makes me happier and healthier. I’ve met some of my favorite people in the city this way and developed skills in leadership and online design that I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to pursue anywhere else. These things make my life a richer, fuller experience.
Thinking about using some of my money as enrichment investments has helped me get over my guilt about not doing the most fiscally responsible thing with my money all the time. Money has always been tight in my life. Money often makes me anxious. I want to be successful and know that making smart and responsible choices with my money is one of the best ways to assist me in accomplishing all my life goals. But GUILT keeps me back. It does nothing productive in my life. “Investing” is a responsible thing to do. I sidestep the guilt and get right to the juicy stuff of living my life fully when I invest in myself.
Financial advice abounds online. I don’t have all the answers. However, I have learned that one of the most important lessons in all things in life is Balance. My budget is no different. I am happiest when I am slogging towards a debt free future, saving for the future and living the experiences I want most right now. I can’t make all my financial decisions based on the future. I’d love to hear how others are finding ways to pay for all the fun and practical things in life.