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Your Budget: A Lean, Mean Goal-Setting Machine

Aggressively getting out of so much student loan debt forever changed how I view life and money. No joke.

Perhaps it’s a topic for another post but I saw American/Western culture in a different light - without victim-blaming, I couldn't help but wonder - how did we create a culture in which it’s so normal to go into so much debt? Why do we put such a premium on appearances and convenience? Why are we constantly living in self-created worlds of illusions (and delusions)?

I also began to see myself in a completely different light as well. I saw how I could handle adversity and, well, suffer. I came in closer contact with my values and doing that caused me to stand a little straighter in my own life and take less crap (which, especially as a woman, is vital).

It also showed me that a budget can be a lean, mean, goal-setting machine.

And here are three reasons how:

  1. A budget causes you to figure out what you really want: both right now and in the future. Do you want five morning lattes a week for a year, or do you want a holiday cruise to the Caribbean? Do you want to keep paying minimums on student loans, or do you want a big ol’ retirement account? (Now you could always counter, “I want it all,” which, yeah, sure, don’t we all?” but here you really get to decide with real money right now). It’s totally your choice. And when you do choose…

  2. A budget is the perfect playground for S.M.A.R.T. goals. Once you set a direction, you can use the mechanism of S.M.A.R.T. goals to get there because they give you a readymade plan. So, if you want a fully-funded emergency fund, awesome. Get into the mechanism of S.M.A.R.T., and you unpack how to get there. (Most important element is “T” or “timebound” because a cdeadline will get you there).

  3. A budget keeps you focused. Deciding what you want and mapping a plan to get there keeps the focus on you without other people (i.e. family, friends, and other marketers ; )) interrupting your plan. I’m not saying you should always put yourself above others, but I find that a budget can be more of an emotional empowerment tool than a financial one.

It may seem weird how much I enjoy writing about goals, but here’s the thing: goals (and budgets) give you establish a level of control in an often-uncontrollable world. There aren’t better and cheaper tools out there to create such incredible life change.

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