I’ve spoken a lot recently about how the deprivation mindset and budgeting are so often linked. The idea that results only come from a sacrifice of some description or some form of hardship. So you work yourself to the bone trying to make it and end up wondering, so why am I broke? Over the years, I have thought a lot about this and come up with my own opinion about why that is. Why do so many of us feel that we have to give up so much to get what we want?
I want you to imagine you’re in your favorite bookstore. Now take yourself over to the self-help section or wherever the finance books are kept. There are tons of them, right? Self-help is a massively lucrative industry. I don’t say this statement with any venom. It is just a fact. It is no secret that businesses and companies capitalize on fear, urgency, and shame. This can be seen as clear as day in the dieting world. “Too” this and “not enough” that. Fear sells. Could this be the source of our scarcity and deprivation mindset? I think it can certainly play its part.
The fact that you are a human being who has complex thoughts, feelings, and needs isn’t something that is given too much thought when trying to convince consumers to buy books and other products. They at least don’t scratch under the surface. It may feel like a foreign concept that you could actually have an amazingly successful budget and be having tremendous fun each month, at the same time. Once you open yourself up to the idea that you deserve both, you can learn to unlearn all of that BS you once believed.
I really do believe that neglecting fun is a huge factor in why so many budgets fail. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter to, hopefully, help you break the cycle you’ve been on for months, years, or even decades. It’s time to stop asking – why am I broke?
Why am I broke reason #1: You don’t reward yourself
Self-Care is NOT a Luxury. Read that again or three times if you need it. Treating yourself with kindness and compassion isn’t selfish. It isn’t indulgent. It isn’t vain. It is necessary. Denying yourself pleasure and avoiding your feelings or desires is a recipe for disaster. Let’s apply this to your budget. If you are solely focused on restricting, over time your mind is going to be like “hell no” and will be compelled to rebel.
How will it rebel? Probably overspend. Remember that we spend to either avoid pain or achieve pleasure. Restricting just isn’t sustainable in the long run. Remember constantly asking why am I broke leads to the very feeling that leads to this overspending in the first place.
I am going to make the comparison with dieting again. It is something that I know we can all relate to in some way or another. Refusing to reward yourself and severely restricting yourself when it comes to dieting isn’t going to work long-term. Sure, you’ll probably see some results pretty quickly but you are setting yourself up for failure in the long run. Dieticians and any “good” fitness guru will tell you that consistent moderation is the key to sustainability.
The same principle applies to your budget. Refusing yourself that reward, you’re more likely to fail any of your goals. Neglecting to acknowledge your achievements with rewards is going to remove all motivation, which is the driving force of any budget.
Let’s talk about this vicious cycle you’re on….Each month you focus on saving and restricting which leads you to fail. So, what do you do? You punish yourself through words and actions and try EVEN harder with the same plan. I’m not here for self-flagellation. Yep, it’s a fun word to say, but nothing about it is. It can be ingrained in us to take this approach. It didn’t work? Try harder… and harder… and harder. Rather than looking at the approach itself.
It isn’t going to work.
Why am I broke reason #2: You think you can’t have fun and achievement are mutually exclusive
Let’s start from scratch. Start from today. If you keep asking yourself “Why am I broke?” You have a mindset issue. Change that mindset. You can have fun and achieve at the same time. You can have everything you’ve ever wanted and have a successful budget. Not only that, you can reward yourself, unapologetically, and hit your savings goals every month.
I’ve seen it time and time again. Too many of us are living these lives where we don’t stop and think about our own desires, needs, and what will make us happy. As Randy Pausch says “Never underestimate the importance of having fun”. Life is to be enjoyed. Having a budget can facilitate the life that we want to create for ourselves. However, it shouldn’t cost us that happiness.
Creating a consistent and sustainable lifestyle is all about balance. You can absolutely have your cake and eat it too. This phrase has never made more sense to me until I applied it to budgeting and balance. You can continue to ask yourself why am I broke or you can start to try a new approach.
Using behavioral-based budgeting strategies, like those taught here at My Bulletproof Budget changes the way you think about money and how you use it. It means you can have fun and still meet your goals. You will no longer wonder why am I broke because you won’t be. You will know where your money is and what it is doing for you – helping you life a life you love.
If you’re looking for a little helping hand when it comes to your finances, I have lots of blogs and resources available. I want to make financial freedom obtainable for all, no matter what your means or budget.
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