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Balancing a Budget – The Psychiatry and Religion Way

January 21, 2021

Have you ever tried to balance your budget? Some people find it fun! Other people find it dreadful. Yet other people might say, “What’s a budget?”

But, what does Psychiatry and Religion have to do with balancing a budget? In my view, everything!

When most people balance a budget, they get their income and they make a list of their expenses and they make sure the first number is larger than the other. If it is, great! If it’s not, then something needs to be cut. However, I want to go deeper.

Understanding what your budget reflects about you is the key to making the change you want to make, to becoming cash flow positive.

When most people list “money comes in” and “money goes out” they’re often missing the point. The real secret is that every line in your budget represents a part of you. Every line in your budget represents a habit you’ve adopted. You can be seen as the sum of your habits.

If you work, you will make an income reflected in your budget. Do you enjoy your work? Is it something that fulfills you? Do you feel it is providing you with what you need? If yes, great! If not, are there ways to get what you truly want out of life?

If you pay rent or have a mortgage, why did you make that choice for that specific place? What percentage is it compared to your overall budget?

If you have a phone bill, did you get the most expensive plan, the cheapest plan, something in between?

If you get coffee every morning, is it the expensive, brand name kind or something more basic?

How often do you go shopping for clothes? Is it really fair to say that these are “one-time” purchases when you make similar ones every week?

Every line in your budget represents who you are, a habit you’ve adopted, or the way you live your life. When you reflect on your budget as a reflection of yourself, you can begin to ask, “Is this who I want to be?” Do you want to be a daily Starbucks drinker? Do you want to be a luxury car driver? Do you want to be the owner of a home? There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. But there is an intentional and unintentional way of spending money. The latter gets people in financial trouble.

If your budget doesn’t reflect who you want to be, then it’s best to spend some time answering that question before conquering your budget. If you don’t, you're just crunching numbers for numbers' sake.

Dr. Eric

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