• R.F. Hurteau

Budgeting—Not Just A Financial Concept

Have you ever taken a financial management class or read a post about budgeting? I have. By and large I find them incredibly unhelpful.


Why?


Because their solutions were a broad brush approach to something incredibly individualized. They always start out by telling you to cut the extras. No more Starbucks runs, space out your haircuts or do it yourself, skip the mani/pedis. Trade in your high-payment vehicle for a cheap junker that will get you from point A to point B without a loan hanging over your head. Cancel Netflix. Live within your means.


Boy, thanks so much! I'll just cut out my…wait a sec. I don't get mani/pedis. I already cut my own hair. I don't go out for coffee except maybe for birthday or anniversary. My car is a paid off older model that's practically falling apart and actually costs me more than I was paying monthly for my newer vehicle before. And, *gasp*, I don't subscribe to any streaming services that I can cancel. Where does that leave me?


What happens when all the advice doesn't apply to you? What happens if you're already living within your means as best you can…but there still isn't enough to make ends meet?


Hold up, I thought this was a writing blog. I bet that's what you're thinking. Where's she going with this?


Well here's the deal. Those seminars and self-help books and everything they espouse can be, and often are, applied to the most precious asset of them all: time.


Writing advice holds that if you love something, you make time for it. End of discussion. Naturally, we bristle in response. We get up early for work, we come home exhausted and ready for bed, or maybe a little binge session to take our mind off the daily grind. We have responsibilities. Life, family, pets, work, household chores, obligations. Where can we trim the fat if there isn't any fat to be trimmed?


You're the only one who can decide where writing falls in your priority list. The only one who can choose what to do with the precious moments available. Fifteen minutes might not seem like a lot, but it really is. Can you dictate ideas to your phone on your commute? Write while you enjoy your morning coffee before getting ready for work? Jot down ideas on the bus or train? Write instead of scrolling Twitter on your lunch break? Maybe let your favorite shows build up for a few weeks and use the time now to get a chapter roughed out? Can you stay up half an hour later or get up half an hour earlier? Maybe none of these chunks of time seem like a lot, but they add up. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph is one step closer to your goal.


But I'm tired! Or I don't do any of those things! Or I work three jobs just to keep food on the table. There just. Isn't. Time.


If that's the case, then you're like me with the financial seminars. They only work for those who have something to cut. If there's nothing to give, then they're not helpful. If you can't write, you can't write. It may be something you have to accept, but you don't have to feel guilty about it. Perhaps there's no time now, but maybe soon. Don't let anyone shame you because you're giving all of yourself already and they're demanding more.


But if you can make a change, no matter how tiny…then consider it.


Even if it doesn't seem like enough. Like it can never add up to anything significant.


It can.


You can.


It will be hard. But most things worth doing usually are.