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Intentional Living, Money

One Simple Thing to Dramatically Reduce Your Anxiety

January 25, 2016

Your future. Your past. That big decision you’ve got coming up. Work. Holidays. Kids going off to school. Travel. Your living situation. There is no shortage of sources of anxiety and worry and stress in our lives.

What if there was one thing you could do that would affect every aspect of your life and make each one easier? Would you do it?

What if it took a little discipline? A little time? A little saying “no” to one thing so you could say “yes” to another? Would you still do it? Or would you rather keep living a more stressful life?

I hope you’re committed to severely reducing stress and are ready to do this.

The one thing you can do to dramatically reduce the anxiety you feel in every area of your life is:
Budgeting.

That’s right. Budgeting your money affects every area of your life for the better and reduces anxiety, worry, and stress. Here’s how:

Budgeting – creating a plan for your money and sticking to it – takes the guesswork and the worry out of your money. And because money touches every part of our lives, when we make money easier and more pleasurable to work with, we make every part of our lives easier and more pleasurable.

  • If there are money issues from your past, budgeting helps you clean them up and move on.
  • Big decisions to be made? Budgeting gives you the freedom to make the best choice – either by enabling you to save money up or simply using money more wisely – so the best choice – even if it’s something with a financial impact like quitting your job to start a new career – can be made.
  • Stressed out because there’s always more cool stuff to do with your family or roommates than there is money to do it with? Budgeting patches the “leaks” in your wallet so there’s more to use AND trains you to prioritize your activities so you can identify and choose what’s most important for you to do.
  • Big projects at work got you stressed? Budgeting works your planning muscle, which you’ll be able to flex in all sorts of situations!

Now that you’re sold on the benefits of budgeting (or at least interested), here are some quick tips for getting started:

  1. Budgeting is easier than you think.
    • You can do this.
  2. It’s a simple income – outflow equation.
    • Take the money you have (income) and plan how (groceries, cell phone bill, etc) you’ll spend it (outflow). Your planned spending cannot exceed your income.
  3. Every month is (slightly) different, so every budget you create should be (slightly) different.
  4. Start With Cash
    • While budgeting software like YNAB and Every Dollar can be very handy, it’s probably best for you to start out using cash and the envelope system (grocery envelope, clothes envelope, etc. one envelope for each budget category) so you can feel your money.
  5. Be Ready to Say No
    • Budgeting helps you set priorities and stick to them, which means it involves saying no to some things (like going out with your roommates, again) so you can do other, more important things (like saving for a car, or paying off debt). Your “yes” to better things will involve “no’s” to lesser things. Be ready. (And don’t feel bad about it!)
  6. Be Patient
    • It’s going to take a little while (3 months or so) to get a good handle on the right amount for your budget categories. Don’t get discouraged in the meantime. And don’t feel bad if you need to adjust your amounts. Just make sure it all evens out. (Adding $10 to one category means taking it from somewhere else).
  7. Ask for Help
    • Getting started with budgeting can be intimidating. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you know who’s been budgeting for a while for help. They’ll be glad to help. You’ve always got our contact form, too.
Marriage, Parenting

4 Lessons From My First Year as a Dad

November 13, 2015
One year ago, our lives changed when Josie was born and joined our family. Josie may have tripled her weight in the last year, but I’ve grown a lot too. Here are a few things I learned this year:

1. Love’s New Dimension

It’s a simple idea, but one that I’ve really come to understand: we love different people differently. The love I have for my Mom is different from that for my wife which again is different from that for my brother.
I don’t love any of those people more than another, I love them each differently.
The love a father has for his daughter is a whole different type of love. It’s deep, rich, and like nothing else. It’s like a new color was added to the crayon box of my life.

2. Sleep is Overrated

Some babies sleep really well at night from early on. Others get there a little later. And then there’s Josie, who only recently started sleeping until 5:30am. Before that she was up (read we were all up) 2-4 times every night.
My sleep hasn’t been this poor (in amount and/or quality) in years, and it takes a greater toll than it used to. But it’s okay.
I’ve been functioning just fine, and even if I’m upset/angry/super tired when that kid starts screaming 20 minutes after I fall asleep (and again a few hours later), it all melts away when I go in there to try and calm her down. I love that booger so dang much.

3. My Life is Not My Own. And I Love It.

We used be more spontaneous. Going to the movies on a whim. Taking weekend day trips without much advanced planning. Running errands when they needed to be done. Taking free time to pursue new hobbies.
All that’s gone.
Babysitters, nap times, and spending time with Josie have taken over all that. And forget about flying somewhere with just a carry-on.
I don’t have as much free time. And things that used to be quick and easy take time and planning now. I haven’t touched my hobby electronics in months. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My days are made up less of chasing my own wants and needs and more of doing my best to provide for Josie’s wants and needs. I am living less for myself and more for my family. And that’s making me a better man.

4. A Better Understanding of God the FATHER

Because I now understand the love a father has for their child (see above), I have been able to gain a better understanding on how God sees me.
One of my greatest joys is watching Josie interact with her world: exploring a room, playing with her toys, ransacking a bookshelf or the diaper bag. I love interacting with her: picking her up, listening to her babble at me, playing peek-a-boo.
I translate the joy I find in my daughter to what God must feel for me, his son. He loves watching me interact with my world: exploring new places, enjoying his creation. He loves interacting with me: when I come to him in prayer.
His heart overflows with love for me as mine does for Josie. Except even more, because I’m a broken man, and when it comes down to it, I stink at loving. He’s God. His love is perfect. He loves me so much more than I can ever love Josie, and that blows me away.
I’ve learned many things, but those are the big ones I want to share with you today.
And to the mom’s out there, check out Amanda’s post on what she’s learned as a mom.