Coping Mechanisms for Budgeting

July 1st, 2013 by Potato

Budgeting is a necessary part of life: resources are finite, and we have to allocate them somehow. Though some may revel in the min-maxing challenge of budgeting, it is at its heart a somewhat painful process of self-denial. So what mechanisms do people use to stay on budget? There are mechanical ones, such as using jam jars and cash, but for most people with access to credit psychological control must be exerted.

There are several coping mechanisms to deal with the psychic strain of not buying what you want. Myself, I think of life in terms of video games, with money being the points I can spend on my character, and there are simply some areas of spending that result in more happy points being accrued than in others, and I keep those trade-offs and opportunity costs in mind. I could buy this DVD, but I’d be happier saving that money for a video game next month. There are other similar rationalizing-based mechanisms out there, for instance you can focus on your long term goals and needs, and determine if a particular purchase fits into those.

Another one I’ve heard is to shift the money focus of budgeting to a dimension you may be more comfortable with, such as space in your house: if you buy whatever it is facing you, where will you fit it in your house (or hard drive)? There’s a limited amount of space, after all.

Wayfare presented me with a new one recently: when she comes across something awesome (a T-shirt on Think Geek, or a cute baby outfit in a store) she says to focus on the joy of the knowledge that it exists in the world, but know that you don’t need to have it in your house. It will still exist and be awesome and you can appreciate it even without spending money to have your own copy.

One Response to “Coping Mechanisms for Budgeting”

  1. Sandi Says:

    My strategy was similar to Wayfare’s but now I’m out-and-out stealing hers. I used to walk past stuff I like and want but don’t need and remind myself that I never think about it when I’m home. It’s embarrassing to admit, because it sounds all new-agey, but sometimes I’d even have to tell myself (very, very quietly) “I’m content with what I have.”