The Downside of Budgeting

I have to admit it: budgeting sucks. Sometimes it’s really really hard to do.

I’ve spent the last four years traveling for six months, then coming home, working hard, and saving every penny I can for six months. Just so I can go travel again. I’m fortunate to have a job paying well enough, that with some clever money management, excessive use of coupons, and a hard limit on things I don’t allow myself to do, I am able to escape another cold winter in Canada and enjoy my travels abroad.

But sometimes this budgeting thing gets a bit tiring. I can’t remember the last time I went on a legitimate shopping spree, buying more than just the necessities when it comes to clothing (because let’s admit it: I’m a girl and I really love to shop). I replace shirts that have holes and sandals that break, and I’ll purchase the odd piece of fitness clothing in encouragement of achieving running goals. If I do buy other items of clothing, they are always purchased when on sale and I will scour flyers and websites waiting for their turn to be discounted. I waited all summer to buy a high-visibility running sweater just to get a ten dollar discount. I can’t explain how much my friend’s closets make me jealous; oh the clothing I will buy when my traveling days come to an end!

Shopping isn’t the only thing I limit my spending on. I also skip out on trips with girlfriends to big cities for shopping and shenanigans and camping trips with friends. I choose quiet weekend nights in, and I frequently turn down catch-ups over drinks or dinner. It may sound cheap to say no to catching up over a five dollar coffee or a ten dollar beer, but if you do that only three times a week for a month, that’s almost $100. That $100 can last me up to a week in some fantastic country abroad, soaking in culture, street food, and adventure activities. I don’t call it cheap, I call it frugal. I am focused on a goal much bigger than a Tim Horton’s or Starbucks. In replacement of skipping out on these activities, I offer my time up to friends through bike rides in parks, walks along the river, homemade picnics, Netflix marathons, or, I simply invite my friends over for supper at my place. It’s much easier and cheaper for me to feed us than to feed myself at an establishment.

I track every penny I spend, cut every coupon I can find, and patiently and diligently wait for sales on each of my purchases. Some days it gets both tedious and tiring. Some days I wish I could frivolously drop a few dollars here or there without taking a second thought to it, or ease-up on fanatically reviewing my banking statements, working my math skills to see how close I’m getting to my saving goals. But as hard as it is, I can’t really complain because it’s a choice I make. Just like some people choose new vehicles or TV’s, I choose to travel every winter. And it’s worth every penny saved.

So, as annoying as budgeting might be, I’ll take that surfboard rental fee on a beach in El Salvador over a frappuccino at some Starbucks at home any day.

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