New Money’s Survival Budget

A survival budget is not meant to set harsh restrictions on your life or create a painful penny pinching system.

The golden rule of transforming any area of your life is to tell the truth about the details in the area in which you are seeking to make a change. The more authenticity you dig out the higher the dividends, in which case without the proverbial pain, there will be no gain.

Often the thing that brings you the most pain is the very thing that will lead you to the most gain and your breakthrough. ~ Jeanette Coron

Who actually wants to transform bad habits? From doing what you have done your whole life to examining it and changing it?

When I was a child my parents, older brother and I lived in the ground floor flat of a converted Victorian terraced house. There was a sprawling back garden and I mean huge of which we had sole use. It was one of my most memorable playgrounds, where we spent long summers with neighbourhood friends exploring and inventing all sorts of games and imagined adventures. Scouting around by the giant oak tree way in the back we might have come across a fallen branch. Lifting it up would expose the damp, musty underside crawling with startled wood louse, spiders and other unidentifiable mini beasts. Well that’s what getting the skinny on your finances can seem like. You might be compelled to quietly lay the log back down and keep it moving, but it’s also okay to scream because it can be awfully frightening at first sight. However, if you are committed to achieving your goal of financial freedom or to retire early and financially secure, then go ahead lift up the log and let’s get to work.

Don’t be afraid of money. Instead face it with courage. In the end, it’s not equities, bonds, commodities, or real estate which will help you achieve financial freedom. It’s your knowledge about money which will make you rich and help you always stay wealthy and financially free.

There are various iterations and definitions of a survival budget. It could mean basics such as shelter, heat, light and water, food and adequate clothing. However, it all comes down to the same end (or beginning) and in this context it is an early step in preparing to generate your own income as a business owner or freelancer. Figuring out how much money is required each month for you to live a reasonably comfortable lifestyle while you build business is part of setting the foundation. Putting aside aspirations for a chateaubriand and caviar lifestyle or the vegan equivalent of a big Wholefoods™ shopping trip is the other requirement in the short term. Disposable income is a consideration for the long term, but should certainly be addressed when vision boarding for you business and the lifestyle to which you aspire.

A survival budget is not meant to set harsh restrictions on your life or create a painful penny pinching system. Rather, it should empower your growing awareness of what is authentic and important to you, how you spend money, what you spend it on and to improve your spending habits. It begins with taking a good, hard look at your finances by way of your bank and credit card statements, your cash spending, your savings and investments. This is what I refer to as, getting what is so. In any area of your life this is the starting point for freedom from its negative and restrictive hold on your ambitions. At first it may seem excruciating, so much so that you avoid it for weeks or even months. Or it may be that you already manage your money well. Either way once you have lifted up the log and faced the mini beasts, you will be relieved to be on top of the facts instead of in the scary dark.

In the process, you will begin to see where you overspend and how you might be able to reduce outgoings. Coffee houses with their delicious speciality frothy coffees, TV packages and their impossible array of channels, mobile phone insurance that may be covered by a home insurance policy are just some of the areas where spending can be reduced. Paying for a gym membership that you constantly procrastinate about using is common. We have all done it. Hanging on while convincing ourselves that paying for it will be the thing to make you go and work out. The only thing is it hasn’t seemed to in six whole months. Six times a handful of your money that could be better utilised or invested! There are many ways to make your survival budget work for your lifestyle and as a building block in your business aspirations. Let me know in the comments below, your tips for positive ways of saving money.

The best investment you can make is in yourself. ~ Warren Buffet

After getting what is so, make a list of your key expenses such as your mortgage or rent payments, car payments, insurances to grocery shopping, clothes and leisure. This list can be broken down into starters, mains and desserts the latter being items that to you are a luxury such as holidays, pampering activities like massages or spa days, giving yourself a makeover or redecorating at home. These aspects are not essential, but an activity you’d like to do if money and time were less pressed. The starters in your budget are all the essentials from rent or mortgage as previously stated, the non or less negotiables (because nothing is non-negotiable. It is possible to ask for a reduction in your rent or change a utilities company for a cheaper deal elsewhere). Your mains are items and activities you would prefer to include and would contribute to your lifestyle in ways that move you forward, such as a training course or conference, the gym membership (that you actually use), meditation or other retreat, gifts for loved ones, events or trips. It is  also possible to find cheaper or free ways to get the benefits of the items in your main course list.

Alternatively, your list can be categorised into investments, fixed spending and variable spending. Areas such as food, clothing and footwear, toiletries, pet care, petrol and parking will fluctuate and can also be controlled depending on where you choose to spend or budget. There are many money gurus with suggestions on how to set up your survival budget. Ann Wilson suggests creating an income statement as part of a series of exercises and tools to financial freedom and in Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week Tools, the Monthly Expenses spreadsheet invites you to cut the fat from your expenses, create a clean slate for ‘adding in all the elements that define your ideal lifestyle.’ Whatever method you take, your survival budget will give you an indication in the initial stages of how much revenue your business needs to be bringing in to make it a viable option for leaving your job and taking this new journey. When you have these projections in your business plan, you can begin to build service agreements, packages or product quantities into your plan.

Once you have your budget and your growing awareness of how your money is currently working for you, make it a regular practice to review the budget and stay abreast of your finances. Schedule a weekly money hour and spend the time learning about your relationship to money as well as checking on your income and expenditure. There are many great books to choose from that will support you through this new chapter in your journey.

It hurts like hell when the world won’t invest in you. But it’s excruciating, almost more than you can bear, when you don’t believe and invest in yourself. ~ Julia Cameron



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