How I Spend My Money

I was loathe to keep a budget.

It meant tracking the bananas I bought and electric bills I paid. It meant spreadsheets that took up the whole computer screen. It meant doing things with numbers, like crunching them and running them.

And it meant that I would have to see precisely, unquestionably where I spent my money.

Money and I – maybe money and you, too – walk a rocky road together. I can fall for the convention that money’s the clearest marker of my success. I can feel like I don’t have enough. I can be jealous of people who have a lot.

And I can tell you that these ways of thinking about money don’t serve me at all.

So, I did some reading to see if I could find some better ways to think about money. I read some bestselling pros, some quilters-turned-investors, some millionaire-in-a-month wunderkinds. And I figured out some things.

But the most important thing I figured out was my own fear.

Because, at the bone, the reason I didn’t want to keep a budget was fear. Not fear that I was squandering cash willy-nilly, though I do sometimes. And not fear that I was spending more cash than I had, though I do that sometimes, too.

I was afraid that I would find out that the money I spent didn’t match up with the values I kept. Or, as Gloria Steinem would say: “We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.”

And it was time for me to see if I walked the real walk with my values or just talked the hot air talk.

I made a spreadsheet. I crunched the numbers. And I saw that my fear was partially justified, partially not. I spent plenty on annual credit card fees, impressive devices and not-as-plenty on visiting my brothers, supporting friends’ crowdfunding campaigns.

Whelan, I thought, it’s time to put more of your money where more of your mouth is.

So, I am. Or, I should say, I’m trying. Yes, I can get toppled by unforeseen circumstances and old ways of thinking. But I try to rebuild on this basic foundation:

Our values – those personal truths we live for and fight for – are also worth spending for.

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