We get paid for my husband's hard work.
We give what we feel is right to give.
We pay the mortgage.
We pay utilities and car insurance and budget for gasoline.
We budget a small sum for groceries and a little for dining out (to keep the cook of the house from feeling too deprived).
What little is left gets divided between all other needs and wants, from shoes for the kids to birthday gifts, to a part for a vehicle, to things we need to maintain our home properly.
And nothing is left. I guess that is the goal of zero-based budgeting, spending every dime on paper before you ever really spend it. But we're missing out on some important things. Things like family vacations with our kids, getaways as a couple, date nights, flowers that will fade away but add beauty for a time, day trips to mountains or local points of interest, church community events that would require us to afford childcare, and things of this nature. What we're lacking in one word: fun. Yes, I know there are a million ways to have fun without spending money, but so many experiences do come with a tangible price tag, be it ever so small. And sometimes when you take something free to do and then have to add all the work it takes to prepare one or more meals to take with you or a very long day to avoid paying for a night of lodging it suddenly loses some of the fun for me.
A budget is a tool to bring boundaries and freedom within those boundaries to use the resources you have. But what do you do when it just feels like that budget is covering the necessities only and nothing simply for the sake of enjoyment? If you know me, I'm not saying I want to throw lots of money away on temporary pleasures, just a little on some life-enriching, memory-making experiences.
And then, oh the guilt of even having this pity party in the first place! Don't you know you already live better than 90% of the world! Um, yeah, I remember that. Indeed, we are very blessed. But I still live in these United States and see what others around me are able to spend money on, and more importantly, experience. And I grow tired of saying "no" to our kids for even good and wholesome things they request whether something at the grocery store or a $2 carousel ride.
So maybe it is time to go back to the drawing board to find a better balance between financial responsibility and actually living life to the full.
Lord, give me a contented heart.