- Personal Finance
Budgets are NOT for the Birds
If you have ever watched a bird going about its regular routine; you can learn a very important lesson from it. Birds don’t keep budgets. They arise early every morning and go about their diurnal habits, depending on the season. They are either looking for a mate, preparing a nest, or taking care of their young. During all this time, they are constantly on the lookout for predators and food sources. They know exactly what they want and go about the process of achieving it.
Humans, being far superior than the average “bird brain,” create meaningful budgets to track their finances and many times fail to consider life’s programmed set of hindrances. Perhaps, instead of calling it a Budget you should rename it Life’s Barometer. Then you take into consideration not only your financial solvency but your total self-worth.
When composing Life’s Barometer, you should take into consideration these three factors:
1. Your daily requirements
2. Your need to please
3. Your self-indulgences
Your Daily Requirements
Having a place to stay is always at the top of your considerations. After all, don't birds have their nest? You will definitely need to add either Mortgage or Rent to your Life's Barometer. Like birds, you also have other daily requirements.
Upon rising each morning, you will prepare yourself for the new day. If you are either self-employed or working for others you will:
1. Prepare for work which may include breakfast, showering and a mode of transportation
2. Journey to your destination
3. Beginning the actual assignment
Birds of course fly—this is their mode of transportation. They commence each day with the usual song and after cleansing themselves in whatever method is available will begin the job of either looking for food or building a nest.
It’s wise to have a balance breakfast, but you don’t always accomplish this. Sometimes you stop at a fast food restaurant for a take-out meal or just skip it completely. Not eating breakfast can get you off to a bad start. Therefore, Food should be on your list of daily requirements.
You shower not only to refresh yourself for the day but to insure that you are presenting your best self. This requires having soap, towels, a place to shower and of course water. You can now add toiletries, linen and utilities to your list of daily requirements.
If you work, you need a way to get there. If you are self-employed you can just walk down the hall to your job if it’s home-based or take a bus/car/carpool if you must leave home. Again, birds just flap their wings and off they go. You are not a bird. Now add to your list bus fare, automobile upkeep and gas.
Once a bird sees it's objective, it goes right to work on fulfilling whatever is required to obtain that goal. When you arrive at work, you begin the task of making a living. This will take energy and stamina with a good deal of patience. Let’s add some type of exercise/meditation to our list of Daily Requirements. Don’t forget the vitamins!
Your Need to Please
Birds have families and so do you. For the benefit of this article, let’s consider birds as being “self-employed.” They are providing for their offspring, maintaining a nest and working toward the day when the chicks are mature enough to be independent. Meanwhile, they work and exist.
Having a family is a tremendous responsibility. Your children must be nurtured and developed in an acceptable manner so they will understand the importance of autonomy. Having a spouse means that there should be added assistance in this process. There may be other relatives to consider.
As there are different kinds of birds, there are different types of people. A few birds mate for life—California Condor, Black Vulture, Bald Eagle, Laysan Albatross, Scarlet Macaw, Mute Swan, Whooping Crane, and Atlantic Puffin. There are other birds who mate and are gone soon after.
There are people who marry numerous times and there are those who believe once is enough. It can be a chore pleasing both offspring and spouse. It helps to know what is considered favorable and unfavorable when making relationships work. Your Need to Please List is very personalized and will contain elements of ideas and things that you will need in your arsenal for family, bosses, co-workers, teachers, and an assortment of others. Beware of using credit cards as a means of achieving this goal. If you can’t afford to pay cash and it’s not a major appliance or repair—let it wait. Trying to impress with clothes, fancy cars, expensive restaurants, frequent trips, etc. can become a great financial burden as well as a stressful one. Just a word—use caution when trying to please others.
Once the bird has fulfilled the parental obligation—its free to self-indulge. Which for a bird, could consist of just flying around all day eating. Self-indulgence should be the best part. Yes, you have read correctly. After years of doing what is required and pleasing others, you deserve a little “me time.” If you strategize right; you can have small slices of clemency before retirement. Here are just a few tidbits:
1. An occasional night out all by yourself
2. A trip to your local spa
3. A weekend vacation after a hectic assignment
4. Taking an enjoyable course—painting, quilting, pottery making
5. Spending the day with a great book and your favorite beverage
The list can be inexhaustible, especially if you make this a part of your Life’s Barometer. Call it Entertainment, Just for Me, or anything to let you know that it’s exclusive—admit one only, ME!
The various types of insurance you need should be a part of your barometer. Think about how you want to live after you retire: work part-time, travel extensively, grow your own veggies? These items need to be added to the list. If you are just stuck on the word “budget” then please use it. However, if you are imaginative and want to call it by another name—use Life’s Barometer or anything that makes planning simple and enjoyable. What’s important is to not make your daily ritual just that—a ritual. Turn it into a pleasurable undertaking.
Having a realistic sense of what is needed to sustain your desired existence will be paramount in maintaining your Life’s Barometer. It’s not just a strict financial budget—it’s a snapshot of how you wish to accomplish your goals without too much hassle.
© 2017 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS