When your budget has you run low on money at the end of the month, the upside is that it feels all the better when the new month begins.
Wow, this last month was tight.
I pretty much spent all of the money I had allocated for myself last month by about the 20th of the month.
A pity that the month doesn’t actually end on the 20th.
I slowly went into “budget lockdown” mode, cutting corners, using up supplies I had, and generally trying to spend as little money as possible, to get me through the month.
I made it through, but in order to make my Bills and Expenses equal my Income (as we all must do each month) I dipped into some savings. After all, savings can count as either a bill or an expense, depending on how you want to consider it.
I realized throughout this not-too-pleasant ordeal—after all, no one wants to not have money to spend—that there was a kind of ritualistic nature to the end-of-the-month budget freeze. That there was a purpose to all the discomfort.
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No one likes discipline, but…
There’s an aphorism, attributed to lots of people, that no one likes discipline, but we like what discipline gets us.
That definitely rings true for me. What accomplishment that came easy to me was one that I truly valued? Nothing that comes to mind.
What always came to mind was the struggle, the resistance, the hardship, the pulling through it all. What I learned along the way. The people I shared the journey with.
No one likes deprivation, but…
This isn’t going to be a popular viewpoint, but there is a kind of pleasure in the experience of deprivation.
Not in the deprivation itself, mind you, but in the aftermath.
If you’ve spent a week hiking in woods, sleeping in a tent, and eating freeze-dried camp food, how would your first meal at a restaurant back in town taste? How would it feel to have your first shower in days?
Maybe you hate the outdoors, so the previous example doesn’t resonate for you. What about coming home after a long trip? How would it feel to sleep in your own bed after being away for awhile?
You enjoy things and appreciate them so much more when you’ve gone without them, even for a short period of time.
(Note to self: If you’re feeling like you’ve lost the enjoyment of a particular activity, try taking some time off from it for a while. Most likely, you’ll enjoy it more when you get back to it.)
The end-of-the-month budget freeze
And so we return to the not-quite-end-of-the-month, when through any number of circumstances, the amount of money you’ve allocated for spending is, not to put too fine a point on it, gone.
Those last few days of the month are definitely tough. You have to say no to things that you might otherwise say yes to.
Now, it might seem pointless or contrived to say no to something on the 31st of the month when the very next day you could say yes to it.
But that’s missing the point. By honoring the rules you’ve set up for yourself, not only are you keeping your finances more in-line, building successful behavior patterns and delaying gratification, but you’re setting yourself up to feel glorious later.
And when does that glorious feeling happen? The 1st of the month.
On that day, a new month begins, and your budget is zeroed out. Everything that wasn’t possible becomes possible. Where you once felt scarcity, now you feel abundance.
It makes any challenges at the end of the month worthwhile.
To me, it’s all part of the ritual. You plan out your spending as best as you can, knowing that some months, you’ll have no trouble staying in your bounds, but other months life will happen and you’ll hit that wall.
So stay strong. The first of the new month is coming. And that day is going to feel amazing.