With the budget firmly in place and the financial plan running pretty much on auto-pilot, I am shifting gears to a series on the first tenet of this blog: imagining the life one wants to live. There is nothing so personal. No one can create this for you and no two people have exactly the same vision. It is the result of a lifetime of self-exploration and discovery. That said, there are steps and tools that have aided myself and many others to visualize a self-directed path through life.
I like to begin this process by creating a Life Manifestation Board. This is similar in process to the money manifestation board. Creating this physical representation of what matters most to you in life, makes life change easier and decision-making much clearer:
- Start with a pen, paper, scissors and any flat surface (poster board or wrapping paper will work fine). *( If you would like to start the process now and don’t have the supplies on hand, simply create these categories on your phone, computer or a piece of paper. You can always recreate the physical board at a later time.)
- Cut approximately 30 cards large enough to write a word or two
- Write 2-5 “Core” values each on a separate card. These are the essential beliefs/needs you have in life. For example, these might be health, spirituality, passion, love, beauty, etc.
- Then list the Manifestations of the Core, the ways the Core are expressed or shown in life. Examples include family, exploring, creating, children, work.
- Then list the Actions that carry out the Core and Manifestations in your life. Examples include, helping others, eating healthfully, exercise, gardening, etc.
- Tape or glue the cards onto the board. Keep the Core at the top, Manifestations in the middle and Actions at the bottom.
- Spend time looking at what you have created. Is there anything missing? Are there things in your life now that occupy a lot of your time and energy but to not fulfill your imagined life? What can you cut out of your life today? What can you add?
- Place the board either in view or somewhere you can easily access when in need of focusing on your personal map for how you want to live your life.
- Refresh your Life Manifestation Board over time. You will learn and grow and this map of your path should change with you.
After keeping a budget for 4 weeks, what have I learned?
Things don’t create happiness. Living honestly does. Learning does. Sharing ones truth does.
As for money, it has regained its place as a tool not a master.
Have we kept to the budget? Yes and no. We kept spending within the jar amounts set for each week. We even had money left over that we were able to redistribute to areas we want to save for (our New Years vacation!). On the no side, a couple big things happened this month. Hubby left his job and as a result received a larger check (leave payout, small bonus). Since he already has work lined up for the month (thank God!), we used it to pay for some big ticket items (new tires and a snow blower, exciting I know). To go back to our plan, future windfalls will be distributed according to our windfall plan.
One huge change in my life resulting directly from implementing a budget with my spouse, we don’t fight about money anymore. Not once in four weeks. This is a big deal for us as we have regularly fought about money in the decade we have been married. What was the change? We each have “allowances”, an amount we receive a week to spend how we chose, no questions asked. No more tiffs over lattes or drinks with friends, no more comparison of who spent what on clothes. We are a team on the big picture of how we use our money and the day to day stuff no longer matters. It is clear when we are meeting our goals. Since we have completely combined our finances since day one, this means financial peace in our household.
Tell me, do you bicker over money? Do you give yourself an allowance? Any tips for how you have found financial peace in your household?
I grew up confused about money. It was bad right? Wait, it was good. We need money. Yet it has become one of the four-letter words.
Toward the end of college I read a book that opened my eyes. “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas J. Stanley. It is a popular book, many people have read it. If you are a math nerd such as myself you may even enjoy all of the statistics. The main idea I walked away with is this, money is simply a tool. If you do the hard work of clarifying what is truly important to you, money is simply a tool to help you get there.
I integrated another tool in clarifying what matters to me in life, Feng Shui terms it a manifestation board. Simply take that pile of old magazines and cataloges and pull out images that speak to you in terms of what you want your life to be composed of. For me it is family, health, love, freedom to live where we want, in beautiful surroundings with rich life experiences. I used the manifestation board to create a list of concrete goals. My husband and I decided the big ones together. Whenever I passed a department store sale or turned down an expensive dinner out with the girls, I could envision my manifestation board and knew what I was saving for meant more to me. Having a picture in mind of what you are moving towards makes it easy to say no to the daily barrage of consumeritis.
Money Manifestation Board
Check out the 4 Step Life Imagined Budget for the next step.