“I gotta little change in my pocket going jingalingaling…”

OK, so some of you may have no idea what my title is talking about. It’s the first line of a country music song, but for me it’s from the movie “Sweet Home Alabama”. But the heart of it is exactly what I want to talk about today. Do you remember the feeling of your Mom or Dad giving you pocket money that you could spend on anything you wanted? Even if it was just a dollar, you felt wealthy, like the world was full of possibilities. For me as a child, life was all about candy, so just having the freedom to choose any candy I wanted, and to be able to buy it myself with the change my parents had given me was amazing. For some of you that first taste of freedom might only have come when you earned your first paycheck. Do you remember how fun it was to get to spend the money that you had earned? It made it easier to go back to work the next day, didn’t it?

There is nothing quite so motivational as feeling and seeing the reward of your labor. A few years ago, Matt and I had to have very serious change in our “financial policy” in this area. As I have already mentioned, Matt does a lot of side business from his regular salaried job. Well, every time he would get a call for a contract, or gig, I would already be scheming where the money would go. He would literally just get off the phone and I would already be saying, “Oh yea, we can use that money to pay for repairing the dryer!” I would be so excited, and he would be demoralized. There was no motivation to even do the work. Yes, he was happy to have clean clothes (or whatever the money went to), but he struggled to find the motivation to want to keep doing it. After many discussions and a lot of figuring things out we finally hit on a plan that has worked wonders in our family and I think it may do the same in yours.

Out of every check that Matt earns, he takes a percentage that is just his. He takes it in cash in his wallet and spends it or saves it, just whatever he wants to do. I do the same. Every time I get the opportunity to make a little extra money, I keep a percentage just for me. The rest goes toward our family and the areas that he and I have agreed upon because that truly is the focus of both of our hearts. However, it is amazing how just getting to eat the fruit of your labor a little will motivate you to work harder, or take an extra gig.

You have to give yourself permission to spend money. If every cent of everything you earn just gets eaten and used up, it actually can be quite demoralizing to want to do more work. Wives, you have to let your husbands taste the fruit of their labors, and husbands you have to let your wives have some free money. It sounds simple, but for many families who are barely making it, it has been a very long time since they bought anything for themselves without feeling guilty. That feeling of guilt when it comes to money will tie you to a poverty mentality that will continually steal your joy, and even perpetuate a feeling of hopelessness when it comes to your finances.

Now some of you are probably saying “Spending money? I spend whatever I want!” Well, that is a whole different blog topic and I am not talking to you today. Spending in rebellion of your actual finances, impulse buying, and spending on credit are not healthy and I am not advocating that. I am advocating taking money that you have already earned and just getting to breathe a little… even if its just buying a candy bar, or a new book, or being able to buy your wife flowers or your friend a coffee. It’s amazing how that can break that feeling of poverty, and motivate you to want to keep earning and moving forward.

So as we begin to talk about the nuts and bolts of setting up your budget next week, I just want you to keep this little thought in your mind. Maybe it’s only $5 a month, but their just has to be a little license to spend or else you will:
1)Rebel and spend anyway, and usually a lot more, landing you in more debt
2)End up demoralized in your job, feeling hopeless in the cycle of poverty
3)Burn out on budgeting and say that budgeting is too restrictive and controlling, also resulting in more debt.

Life on a budget is not controlling, it is empowering. It will empower you to take back your life from fear and debt. It will empower you to start moving towards your dreams, and it will empower you to finally know where you are and how to move toward the future. However, you have to be able to live on a budget and not be constantly sabotaging it. “A little change in your pocket” may be just the answer to keep you from feeling that sense of deprivation which sabotages so many people into debt. So you might just need a category in your budget called “play money” or a percentage of your extra money that goes into your wallet. Because as backwards as it sounds, sometimes giving yourself permission to spend a little money, can actually be the key to having the motivation to save a lot more.