Another reason budgets don’t work is that they don’t incorporate the funding of our goals. Budgets are a restrictive device that create deprivation. They fail because they are not a realistic guide to our true and complete money needs. Budgets don’t make allowances for dreams.
A Personal Spending Plan is predicated on including goals and dreams in your financial planning.
In determining goals, the first thing to do is to brainstorm—write down all the goals you can imagine. Everyone is really good about writing down the “have to” goals: retirement, college, paying off credit card debt. These fly onto the paper immediately. Go beyond these traditional goals—all the normal “shoulds.” Ask, “What would I do that would really enrich my life? What am I genuinely passionate about?”
Abbey has a great interest in the work of Christo, the artist who creates huge works of art, such as wrapping Biscayne Bay in pink plastic, and planting thousands of open umbrellas in California and Japan. He used 170 workers and ninety rock climbers to drape the Reichstag, a well-known landmark in Berlin, with a million square feet of silver fabric, and then he tied it off with ten miles of bright blue cord.
One of Abbey’s goals was to be able to afford to go to a Christo exhibit every two or three years. We included this dream in her financial goals.
I have another client couple whose passion is landscaping. Their yard is a masterpiece, a regular botanical garden—cover of Home and Garden stuff. Every season, they plan and shape and sculpture their grounds in a beautiful and inviting way. They are very passionate about it. This is where their extra money goes, and we have provided a line item for it in their Personal Spending Plan.
I have a client whose Personal Spending Plan includes a line item for bike riding. He stays up with the latest in bike technology and racing, and spends a fair amount of money on specialized bike parts and bike expeditions. Another client has a line item for going to live music concerts every year. Another woman takes chemotherapy patients out for meals, or buys them things they need. She has a line item for this in her Personal Spending Plan. A man who has a passion for bagpiping allocates money to include the cost of bagpipe lessons in his financial planning. He even invested in a small bagpipe he can take on backpacking trips—blowing his bagpipes in the wilderness at dawn!
So you see, financial planning and goal setting can be fun if you approach it properly. I want you to recruit the services of your imagination and dream. Don’t allow the perceived obstacles to short-circuit the process. Don’t let your automatic belief that you can’t do something get in the way.
Write down those goals. Include the obvious ones that pop into your mind right away, the ones you feel you have to fund. But then let the playful part of your mind take control. Get outside your normal thinking and dream a bit. Write down those things that would bring you immense joy.
Many people have never established an ambitious dream and then followed through with a viable financial plan to accomplish it. However, you can do it.