Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Category: Self-Improvement (page 1 of 4)

Limiting Social Media: Dropping the Phone Addiction

A child tugs on her mom’s pant leg.

“MomomomMOMOM!” she yells, begging for attention.

“Just hang on, I’m on the phone!” the mother pleads, attempting to finish her conversation.

How often have we seen this scene play out in various ways? I remember being that child, desperate for attention. I can sympathize a lot more with my mom now, knowing how needy kids can be; sometimes you need a minute on the phone just to get something done. But now it’s far easier and more common for technology to distract us from the needs of others around us, especially in our families. Today that phone scene might look like a family member only half-listening to a conversation, too involved in a text or a new Facebook status to give their full attention, or a child too glued to their screen to participate in family activities.

I personally have noticed a difference in my life the last few years as I’ve become more and more dependent on technology. I have a shorter attention span; I’m not as good of a listener as I used to be; I’m more easily distracted.

I am definitely addicted to my phone.

I’ve decided on several occasions that enough is enough; I need to stop using social media, go on a “phone fast,” and quit cold turkey. However, that rarely works out as well as I want it to. If technology is an addiction, it’s going to take more than one all-or-nothing attempt to really change my habits. These are a few struggles I’ve noticed as I try to limit my use of technology, and some tips that help me be more aware of the time I spend on my phone:

  1. Everyone has their own personal weaknesses in terms of time-wasters. For me, it’s Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
  2. It’s hard for me to cut them out all at once because they aren’t all bad—I use Facebook to stay connected to my family, and I use Pinterest for recipes. I’ve found it’s easier for me to set specific, limited times each day that I can use them. For example, I can get on Instagram for ten minutes (and only ten!) to take a break from homework, or I can only look at Facebook while I’m donating plasma, etc.
  3. I’m much more likely to stay off of Facebook and Instagram if I’m logged off them. Some people like to delete the app, but I find that even if I’m just logged off, the extra effort of logging in often deters me from doing so because it reminds me that I’m trying to stay away.
  4. Fixing social media settings so notifications don’t pop up on my desktop/phone screen is a BIG help! I could be working diligently on homework, but as soon as that Facebook notification popped up I’d go to check it just real quick and WHAM! I’d be down the rabbit hole. No notifications means no distractions jutting into my other activities.
  5. Tell someone your goals; they’ll keep you accountable. I know it’s kind of cheesy when someone makes that status saying, “Well I’m taking a break from Facebook for [x amount of time], see ya,” but if you at least tell a roommate or family member, they’ll be able to give you a hard time if they see you breaking your commitment, and maybe just make you feel guilty enough to keep it!
  6. Apparently when my brain wants its addiction it gets super resourceful. Even if I stop using my main time-wasters, I go to secondary ones like playing Candy Crush and online window-shopping with Wish. When that happens, I have to limit those ones too!
  7. Finally, perhaps one of the most important tips I have is to find other positive things to fill your time with. When I stopped using social media, I realized just how accustomed I was to filling every moment of boredom with it. I used it to numb myself when I was stressed or needing a break. Finding other things that act as stress relievers has been a huge help in slowing my automatic impulse to reach to my phone whenever I’m looking for a distraction because I have other things to turn to instead. I’ll pick up a book or spend a few minutes talking with a friend or a family member instead of scrolling aimlessly.

Technology can be a great source of connection, but only when we control it instead of letting it control us. How each person uses technology will be different, but I believe that if we set personal boundaries for ourselves and for our use of technology and social media, we will be able to more fully connect with those around us and be more present in our own lives.

BY NATASHA ANDERSEN

Dad’s Favorite Gift

The difficulties of parenting surprise even the best of moms and dads. We begin our parenting life staring into the eyes of our little one, believing that we know the journey that lies ahead. We will teach them all that matters to us, and they will, in turn, grow up into the wonderful adult that we had imagined. Sadly, and surprisingly, time ticks away and the next thing we know, most of what we had hoped for didn’t happen after all.

Disappointment does not escape anyone. The question is, what do we do with this knowledge of reality? I will tell you what I did. When my dad was seventy-five years old and I was forty-one years old, I had had just enough parenting experience to realize something; at this stage of my dad’s life, he did not need to hear anything he did wrong as a parent. He needed to know all the good he did, and he needed to know that I felt only gratitude for him.

With this revelation, I created what I believe is a gift that every parent deserves. I began thinking about how much food was involved in the good memories of life. I began to gather stories of times spent with my dad and the food that helped create those good memories. I wanted to do just a little bit more than simply tell the story of our times together; I decided to add to these stories the lessons I had learned from my dad when we were together. From my gratitude grew a box of memories, associated with food but inspired by the lessons learned from a father.

Because my dad did not live in the same state as I did, my gift would need to be mailed. I drove around gathering up all the food I needed to mail, and then I wrote the stories. I began my gift with a letter of explanation, part of which said, “My gift to you this day is a special way of saying ‘Thanks for the memories.’ In this box is a sampling of foods that I associate with you and the good memory that lingers with them still. Love to you, Amos.”

One of my stories began “All of my memories, at any stage of my life, of going to the movies with you, are wonderful. One important lesson in life stands out thoughhonesty. I remember when I reached the age of twelve and the price of a movie ticket for me went up. Needless to say, I certainly did not look twelve years old, nor did anyone at the movie theatre think so. Every time we’d go to buy my ticket, they would guess me as a “child.” You would always correct them and tell them how old I really was. Your simple and direct honesty set a very strong example of integrity and I desired to be just like you.”

Another story reads “We usually think of a ‘security blanket’ as some kind of tangible object. For me, one of my most treasured ‘security blankets’ was the twelve years that I spent on the ice, looking through the Plexiglass and seeing you in the coffee shop, eating toast and jelly, exactly at the same time every morning. I doubt you knew the value of what you were giving me nor the magnitude of the positive effect it would have on my life. As a mother today, my most important daily goal is to simply be there––always––at the same time––each day––just as my dad was, in the coffee shop.”

If you are fortunate enough to have one or both of your parents still around, I hope you will take the time to share your food memories and maybe a lesson or two that you learned while spending time together. Let them know that they did something right––that their hard work paid off and that you not only appreciate all they did for you, but that you learned from them as well. If your parents are no longer with you, write down the stories anyway for future generations to learn from.

After receiving my gift in the mail and reading all the stories, my dad called to tell me that “this is the best gift I have ever received in my whole life.” At that moment, I realized that my gift to him turned out to be equally as valuable to me; I had made my dad feel like a successful parent, and in turn, I felt like a successful daughter.

A Family Favorite

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about family traditions lately, and one that has had a lasting impact on my life keeps coming to my mind. I am the oldest of four girls and have always heard my mom say the exact same thing to each of us when we left the house—from the first day of kindergarten to the last day of high school, and even now when I come home over break.

Mom: Have a great day, choose the right, and remember . . .?

Kids: I am a child of God, you love me, and I can pray anytime, anywhere, always!

Even when my sisters and I were on different school schedules I could hear one of them reciting it while walking out the door, and then fifteen minutes later I would hear another say it as she left for the day. It got to the point where I could say it in under two seconds if I was really running late somewhere. If it was for a drive up to school, a trip to the mall with friends, or even a date, I could hear my mother calling out, somewhere in the house, her sweet little line any time I EVER walked out the door and into the real world.

Something that I have loved about this is that it didn’t cost any time or money, but she was still able to create a tradition and a lasting memory that I plan to carry over into my own family someday. I can still remember some of those hard days at school where something had gone wrong and I was ready to throw in the towel or classmates were pressuring me to do something I knew I shouldn’t or even something silly like the fact that I didn’t get asked to the dance by my crush; in the moments that mattered the most, I could hear my mother’s voice reminding me to have a great day, to choose the right, that I am a child of God, that she loves me, and that I can pray anytime, anywhere, always.

Thanks mom.

BY CARLY CALLISTER

An Easy Start to Family History

What is it that makes the world go around? What is the main driving force behind the things that people do? For me, the answer is my family. My family is the most important thing in my life, and I love them. One of the great things about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is the knowledge that we can be with our families forever; our family ties are not “until death do you part,” but forever. It is a great comfort for me to know that I can live with both my immediate and my extended family forever.

My grandpa died just a few weeks after I was born; I never met him. My older brothers and cousins have so many stories and great memories of him, and I wish that I had gotten a chance to know him. I know that one day I will meet him and will have the opportunity to get to know him, because we are sealed together as a family.

Our family ties go back further than just our grandparents. By doing my family history, I have learned about many generations of my ancestors. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a website specifically designed for family history: familysearch.org. It’s free and super easy to use! When you first open the webpage, in the top right-hand corner, there is a button that says, “Sign In” and another one that says, “Free Account.” If this is your first time using Family Search, click “Free Account” to make your account. (It asks you to make a username and password and to provide a little bit of information about yourself.) If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can enter your “Membership Number” (you can ask your ward clerk what it is if you don’t know it), and you will be linked into your family tree. After making your account, you can view your family tree by clicking “Family Tree” at the top of the page. From there, you can start to explore your family tree! You can click on the names of your ancestors to view information about them or to add more information. If you know of an ancestor who is missing from your tree, you can add them in, as long as you know a few basic details about them. You can view memories and pictures of your ancestors, and some ancestors will have sources attached to their profile, such as birth certificates or a picture of their gravestones.

Family Search is a great tool to get to know your ancestors better, but it’s even more than that. With Family Search, we can find our ancestors so that we can perform sealing ordinances for them in the temple of God, by the priesthood, which is the power of God. We can seal them to their spouse and their children, linking generations together through the centuries. We will create eternal ties that will allow them to be with us, and all of our family, forever. What a blessing to have Family Search and the opportunity to be with our family forever!

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness: Why it’s Important, and How to Begin Assembling Your Own 72-Hour Kit

While I was in Brazil serving an LDS mission, I spent four and a half months in an area called Manaíra. In this city,  there was a slum built right along the bank of a river. Toward the end of my time there, the area got a lot of rainfall, as is common in Brazil, and the river flooded its banks. Dozens of homes, if not more, were filled up to waist-level with water from the dirty river. Although such extreme flooding was fairly rare, it was common enough that the community was not surprised by it. I, however, was horrified at the conditions; I wondered why people still lived there when they knew there was a risk of disasters like this flood. But sadly, many of those people had lived there all their lives and were without means to move. They simply had to find friends or relatives nearby with whom they could stay for a couple of days until things cleared up, and then move back in. I remember feeling sorry that there wasn’t much I could do to help at the time. It was only a few days ago when I had a conversation about emergency preparedness that I realized how much of a difference a 72-hour kit could have made for the people I knew in Brazil—and not only them, but how much of a difference it can make for me even now.

A 72-hour kit is a portable supply of things you’ll need to survive for three days in an emergency, including items such as food, water, medical supplies, clothes, etc. Members of the LDS church are generally familiar with the idea of emergency preparedness, since for decades church leaders have been counseling members to prepare their families in case of emergency, but it may be a topic a little less well-known outside the Mormon bubble. So why is having a 72-hour kit important or applicable for all people? No matter where you live, you never know when disaster will strike—floods, blizzards, hurricanes, fires, power outages, I guarantee there’s some disaster that could reach you. A 72-hour kit could be useful even if you’re a poor college student like me and there’s a time when you’re out of groceries between paychecks. It happens. It’s a good idea to have a bigger food storage saved in case of a long-lasting emergency as well, but if you’re a young college student like me who’s constantly moving from one small apartment to another, carrying around a couple hundred pounds of food isn’t exactly feasible—for moving, or for my budget. But a 72-hour kit is practical, and doable, for anyone to get a start on food storage, and to be just a little more prepared.

In the quick search I did, I found these to be the basic essentials you should get first to start your kit:

Water: The recommended amount of water to have stored is 1 gallon per person per day—but, keep in mind that a 72-hour kit is meant to be portable. You may need to pack less water than the recommended amount, and have some extra handy just in case.

Food: Granola bars, tuna, beef jerky, trail mix, crackers, instant oatmeal, peanut butter, dried fruit, canned foods, etc.—just make sure there’s enough non-perishable food for a 3-day supply, along with dishes and utensils, and anything you might need for preparation. (Don’t forget the can opener!)

Hygiene Supplies: Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, dish soap, hand sanitizer, etc.

Medical Supplies: Basically a first aid kit, along with any medications you may be taking.

Other Equipment: Flashlight (and batteries), pocket knife, matches/lighter, candles, blankets, etc.

These are just some basics to help start the process. I found a lot of useful information and more detailed lists at the following sites:

http://maintainingmotherhood.com/adult-72-hour-kit/

https://www.sixsistersstuff.com/emergency-survival-72-hour-kits/

https://www.thoughtco.com/72-hour-kit-for-emergency-preparedness-2159406

(Pinterest also has tons of great suggestions, and, as always, Google has some great tips to offer as well!)

It’s important to remember, the purpose of a 72-hour kit is to have it ready for an emergency—so keep it in something portable, like a backpack, and somewhere you can get to it quickly.

You don’t have to buy all the items for your kit at once. I wouldn’t even recommend it, unless you happen to have a bunch of money saved up to spend on your emergency preparedness; like all good things, your 72-hour kit comes little by little. Personally, my goal right now is to buy 1–2 items a week to build my 72-hour kit. Even if you’re tight on money, all it takes is an extra box of crackers or can of food once a week to start, and you’ll be prepared in no time!

Let us know in the comments what your best tips are for compiling a 72-hour kit, and good luck assembling your own!

BY NATASHA ANDERSEN

The Whole “Keeping Track of Money” Thing

My mom has always been fantastic at money management. She’ll sit down in front of the computer with all the receipts for an entire month and keep track of where any money was spent. She makes a grocery list and looks for coupons. She shops sales so that she can get the best deals. She has a budget with an amount set aside for everything that we might spend money on. Ever since my siblings and I were little and first started earning money, my mom has had us set aside some money every month to save to go to college and to serve missions. When my dad changed jobs and started getting a smaller paycheck, my parents went through the budget and decided what to cut. We got rid of most of our channels on TV, my mom started making homemade bread, and we stopped buying a lot of unnecessary items.

My mom is excellent at the whole “keeping track of money” thing. I, on the other hand, am not. There was one time when I was in high school that I had to keep a budget for three months for a project. Of course, I went to my mom for help, and she told me all sorts of things about money management, but I mostly just rolled my eyes and did the bare minimum to complete the project. Back then, I didn’t worry much about money. I didn’t make very much in a month, but I also had very few expenses, so it just wasn’t a big deal! But now I’ve moved on to a different story. Now I have to pay rent, buy my own groceries, pay for myself at restaurants, and pay for my own gas. Life is expensive! So this month, I decided to make a budget. I wrote down everything I could think of where I might spend money, and then I called my mom (of course) to see if I missed anything. But then came the hard part: staying within my budget!

I haven’t had a budget for long, but I’ve learned a few things already:

1) There are always unexpected expenses!
2) Some of those unexpected expenses can be controlled but some can’t be controlled.
3) It’s a lot of work to keep track of all my expenses; it’s easy to lose those receipts or forget that I bought something.
4) It takes a lot of self-control to stay in a budget, especially when I really want to buy ice cream at the grocery store!

Hopefully, I’ll get better at the whole “keeping track of money” thing. Maybe one of these months I’ll even manage to spend less than I earn! But until then, at least I’ve taken the first few steps towards successful money management.

BY LAURA BUSHMAN

Is Mint by Intuit Right for You?

The word finances makes many newly-married couples cringe in fear. While everyone recommends budgeting, saving, watching credit scores, and tracking financial growth, these tasks bring with them extra time and energy demands that are often unrelenting. New and old families alike know they are supposed to do those things, but often do not know how to get started. And that is where the age of technology comes in! Over the past few months I have been using a very popular mobile app called Mint by Intuit to help me wrangle in those pesky tasks and hopefully plot a course of financial security. I will be going through some pros and cons of this service and hopefully allow those looking for a way to budget efficiently decide if this product is the right choice for them.

Pros:
  1. The user base is huge! To be honest, the reason that I am reviewing Mint is that it was one of the first apps that showed up when I searched for budgeting tools on the iOS app store. The good news is when an app has a large active user base, the company that manages that platform is more likely to keep the app up-to-date and to respond to suggestions and emerging technologies. This puts users in a good spot since they know that they are syncing their personal financial information with a widely used and respected service and not some shady back-alley app.
  2. It is free! This has to be on this list. An app gets put in many people’s good graces, including mine, when it can be downloaded for free. And the free train doesn’t stop there; the service does not have any premium or “pro” features that require a subscription service, meaning it is a truly free app—not one of those sneaky mostly-free ones.
  3. Automated! Using technology is supposed to make life easier, right? Well in this case, the answer is yes! Once you sync your bank account to this secure application, Mint does the rest! It creates charts and tracks spending patterns automatically and religiously. Before using this app I did not know to the exact percentage point what I was spending on entertainment, but now I do. With the information that is ready at your fingertips immediately after signing up, it is simple to start making plans and adjusting habits to align better with your financial goals. My wife and I were able to see that we were doing super well on some categories (food, clothes, and movies) but could use some work on others (eating out).
Cons:
  1. Ads. While the service is completely free, we do live in a world where money, unfortunately, does not grow on trees. As such, Intuit has decided to display banner style ads throughout the app and saturate the “Suggested Investment Products” feature of the app with its own systems. So while I revel in the app’s freeness, I do note that purchasing any other services strictly from the in-app recommendations without any third party advice is probably not the most recommended course of action.
  2. Automated. I know this appears on both lists, but for good reason. The automation does wonders on productivity, but I kept feeling like I was missing out on truly learning how to budget and plan the family’s finances. When the system was doing everything for me I realized that while I had great information now, I hadn’t learned anything. For those that want to learn budgeting, and not have it done for them, there may be better options explored in the future.


All in all Mint is a great product. It looks clean, it is easy to set up and use, and it has provided me with wonderful information that my wife and I have begun to use to our advantage. It truly is important for every family to budget and work toward financial security. With that being said, Mint just may be the right app for you to get on that road to financial success.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

BY JOSHUA HANSEN

A: Aspirations as a Married Couple

You spend your whole life planning what you want to do and be for the remainder of life, and then . . . BAM! You get married, and everything changes. It’s a challenging experience to try to take two lives with two plans and merge them into one. In some cases, there has to be a lot of compromise so that the two partners can live their idea of a fulfilling life.

When I was deciding to marry my husband, Tyler, I thought integrating my plan into his life would be pretty easy. My plan in life was to grow up, go to my dream college studying the thing I love, marry the love of my life, have some cute little kids, and otherwise insert myself into his plan. I thought my plan was very conducive to married life. This plan would have worked out great, except that life doesn’t always go as planned, and I didn’t have a back-up plan.

Shortly after I married Tyler, I realized that the thing I was studying was not something I loved. This was problematic because I was almost done—and if I wanted to insert myself smoothly into Tyler’s plan, I had to graduate when he did, or not at all; so changing my career track was not an option at that point.

Another problem we encountered was the fact that Tyler’s plan wasn’t fully developed. Sure, we knew the basic outline: graduate from college, get a master’s degree, get a job. But, all of a sudden, we started figuring out that the track he was on would not lead him to the career he thought it would. We applied for internships, but he didn’t get any because he just wasn’t in the right field (even though he’s brilliant, and any company would be lucky to have him).

These problems led to many nights of stress for Tyler and worrying for me. Sometimes we’d lie in bed about to go to sleep, when I would start worrying out loud and end up in a fit of tears. Why aren’t things working out for us? I’d ask. Why didn’t everything go as planned?

Now, I still don’t have the solutions to our problems, but I have a formula for dealing with aspirations as a married couple that I recommend to anyone having similar issues.

First, you have to talk to each other. You have to get together and write down the things you enjoy doing, the things you could see yourself doing as a career, your ultimate dreams and goals.

When you’re done with that, I recommend that you rank the things on your list in order of importance to you. Talk about the things that you feel are non-negotiable, and things you wouldn’t mind doing without. Work out possibilities for the future, and how those things might affect your relationship and your family.

Then you have to make a plan together. And not just one plan, but several that range from broad to specific, from semester to fifty years, from ideal to worst case scenario. This could take several hours, so make sure you have a block of time set aside for doing this, or else you could end up scratching things out at 3 o’clock in the morning.

The last step is making a plan of action for right now. What will you do today to set you on the right path? Even if it’s just research, it will help you out in the long run. Decide on a timely plan for both of you, and help each other out. Remind your husband when his internship application is due. Encourage your wife to look for opportunities to acquire new skills. Take it day by day—if you always make sure you’re on the right trajectory, you will eventually end up where you want to be.

BY CARI AVERETT

We Tried Bullet Journaling and Here’s How it Went

Disclaimer: I am not an artistic person. I was the kind of person who threw away their graded art projects during my high school art class.

Okay, now that we have established my lack of artistic ability, let’s get started!bujo2

What is bullet journaling? As far as I can tell, it’s a code word for cute lists, and I’m loving it!

At the beginning of every school year, I spend hours trying to find the right the planner. I want it to be cute and functional, but it also needs to be reasonably priced. However, each time I end up choosing functional. I mean who wants to pay $20 for a planner that will just get thrown away at the end of the year? Let’s be honest, functional is frumpy while cute is costly.

This is one of the reasons I love bullet journaling. I can pick a super cute notebook and customize the inside. I can do a different layout for every week if I wanted to!

A bullet journal doesn’t just have to be a planner. Make it whatever you want! If you have a blank page and a pen, go crazy!

How to Start

bujo1The first thing you need to do is pick a journal and some pens. I found my journal at the BYU Store, and I picked the pens up at my local Target.

Picking the journal was hard because I didn’t know what kind of paper I wanted to write on. In the end, I decided on a journal that had lined pages. Choose whichever works for you: lined or blank. As for the pens, I didn’t want anything that would smudge. Plus, I wanted fun colors. I went with the Paper Mate Marker Pen.

The next step is to write, draw, doodle, you name it! I made a cover page and an index. After I started, I noticed that the pens bled through the pages. I guess that nothing is perfect, right? 

Now What?

I suggest starting with a list of ideas of the things you wanted to write about. Honestly, you can write about anything: a list of movies you want to watch, a gratitude page, a quote wall, a bucket list, or grocery lists. If you need some more ideas, look up “bullet journal lists” on Pinterest. Get creative and start writing. Here are a couple of my lists:

 

bujo3

Days until summer countdown

 

bujo4

A day from my planner

Advice for the Skeptics

Embrace the mistakes you make: Seriously. No one is perfect. Think of the mistakes as making the journal become more a part of you.

  • Just jump in: Bullet journaling may seem like a daunting task, but you can do it! Trust me.
  • Get out of your comfort zone and experiment with different fonts and different writing utensils.
My Analysis

So far, bullet journaling has been fun and stress relieving. When I sit down to doodle or plan, I’m focused on the task so I don’t mess it up (the mark of a true perfectionist). But don’t give up! Make your bullet journal your own. And don’t forget to be creative; no one said creativity killed the cat.

By Naomi Hurd

Budgeting: Where the Real “Adulting” Begins

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Photo by Investment Zen

 

Budgeting is a fairly new development in my life. For years my financial planning was based on guestimation and knowing when my next paycheck would come through. I got by, but things completely changed for me two years ago when I took a family finance class. Since I’ve started budgeting, I have found a rewarding feeling of financial responsibility while still being able to do the things that I love. People make “adulthood” sound like the worst fate that you could ever face, but being financially responsible is an extremely rewarding experience that comes with more freedom than many of us have ever had. If you’ve never budgeted, please, please, pleeeeease try. I promise, you won’t regret it! Here are some ways to help you get started.

Make a plan. Take the time each month to estimate your income: how much you make per hour multiplied by how many hours you anticipate working (when I’m not sure, I like to estimate on the lower side because then it’s like a bonus if I earn more than I budgeted). Once you’ve got that, list all of your expenses. Some things are easy (like rent and insurance payments), but others are trickier. How much do you think you spend on groceries? What is an acceptable amount for you to spend eating out each month or going to the movies? Budgeting bums some people out, but keep in mind that this is your budget. Figure out how much you want to spend eating out a month, but also figure out how much you want to save so you can go crazy on your birthday. It’s all about staying organized so YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO not about keeping you tied down. If you find that your budget was totally impractical, then rearrange some things. It’s a living, breathing document, not something that’s set in stone.

Plan for every dollar to go somewhere. While I was growing up, my financial mantra was to spend as little as possible so that I could save as much as I could. My first inclination in budgeting was to figure out how much I needed for my expenses and then to save everything else. This isn’t the worst way to handle your money, but it’s a hard way to live. I would feel guilty about any purchase that wasn’t 100% necessary to my survival. In my family finance class (shout out to Jeff Hill from BYU’s School of Family Life), I got some great advice that has helped me not get frustrated in my budgeting attempts. The first piece of advise is to assign a category for every dollar that I planned on earning. This meant that I would plan to pay my rent, my insurance, and my groceries, but I would also plan to pay into my savings account, into my eating out category, and into my travel fund, just as if they were other bills. Once I had an assignment for all of my money, I felt so much better. I could spend money on whatever I wanted, guilt-free, so long as I planned for it. Being responsible means more than just hoarding everything you can to stay on the safe side; it means realizing how much you have and working within that boundary.

Plan for the unexpected. I think we can all relate to the frustration that comes when we take the time to make a plan, but then things do not go according to the plan. I have definitely felt this while budgeting, but Dr. Hill taught me a solution that is simple and makes everything so much better. He encouraged us all to make a miscellaneous category on our budgets. It is too hard to plan on every expense that will come your way in a month. Unexpected things come up: your roommate’s birthday, your car’s oil change, or your dream coat goes on sale (just buy it now, it’s an investment). Since it’s impossible to plan for everything, just plan on making a miscellaneous category. By creating a miscellaneous category that you never plan to spend, you give yourself a cushion that allows life to happen. You can buy a birthday cake, take care of your car, and get that coat without feeling like a failure.

I love budgeting! It is such a simple thing, but it makes a huge difference in my day to day life. I sincerely hope that you give budgeting a try. It is 100% worth the effort!

 

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